Meet the 2023-2024 National Scholars

We are pleased to announce and welcome these outstanding students as our 2023-2024 cohort of National Scholars.


 

Liren Abeyratne

Life Sciences
Victoria College

“I can spend my time giving back to the community and delving into my studies to make a mark on medical research.”

Liren Abeyratne became interested in Alzheimer’s disease after spending time with dementia patients as a volunteer. He furthered his interest in neuroscience during an internship at the Lunenfeld- Tanenbaum Research Institute, where he worked with cerebral organoids, a tool used in neurology research.

Liren’s other love is music, nurtured in high school and through performances with community bands. He believes music has powerful benefits and founded a charitable organization to help develop music programs in schools.

He says the BMO National Scholarship has been a major boost toward his goals. “Unencumbered by financial constraints, I can spend my time giving back to the community and delving into my studies to make a mark on medical research.”

 


 

Baran Aghdasi

Life Sciences
Victoria College

“Whenever I doubt myself, I think of the BMO National Scholarship, and it reminds me that someone recognized my potential and trusted me to reach it.”

Baran Aghdasi aspires to be a genetics and pharmaceutical chemistry researcher who develops treatments for medical disorders. She is also passionate about promoting global health equity and has co-founded an initiative to aid communities in Iran. In high school, she co-led the debate club, edited the school newspaper and founded a yoga club.

Baran was drawn to U of T for its research opportunities, international exchanges and dedication to teaching sustainability. She says BMO’s support gave her a tremendous confidence boost. “Whenever I doubt myself, I think of the BMO National Scholarship, and it reminds me that someone recognized my potential and trusted me to reach it.”

 


 

Jiya Jakher

Life Sciences
Innis College

“Instead of striving to become the best in the world, I want to become the best for the world.”

Jiya Jakher aspires to be a surgeon-scientist developing regenerative medical cures for chronic diseases. While still in high school, she interned at the University of Calgary, where she participated in research into 3D bioprinting and on-body sensors. She also participated in national debate competitions and served on youth advisory boards for an education minister, a children’s hospital and a board of education in Alberta.

“My journey in high school taught me that instead of striving to become the best in the world, I want to become the best for the world,” she says, adding that the BMO National Scholarship enables her to pursue her scientific interests while contributing to the community. At U of T, this includes serving on the Human Biology Student Union and for the Heart and Stroke Foundation student chapter.

 


 

Christopher Lamont

Computer Science, Mathematics & Statistics
University of Toronto Mississauga

“The mentorship and academic partnerships provided through the BMO National Scholarship are unparalleled.”

Christopher Lamont is interested in computer science, innovation and entrepreneurship. He has participated in national science competitions and represented Canada at an exposition in the United Arab Emirates, where he presented a 3D-printed IV fluid administration system for use in lower-income countries. His other passion is hockey as a member of the University of Toronto Mississauga’s men’s hockey team.

“U of T has one of the best computer science programs in the world,” says Christopher, adding that the BMO National Scholarship freed him to commit to his education and live oncampus. “Also, the mentorship and academic partnerships provided through the scholarship are unparalleled and will most certainly help me to achieve my goal of becoming a leading Canadian innovator and entrepreneur.”

 


 

Louise McCrow

Computer Science
Victoria College

“I watched my sister work tirelessly to support herself through university, and I had the same difficult path to follow. BMO … has given me a tremendous chance.”

Louise McCrow chose the University of Toronto as the best place to advance her passions in technology, the arts and advocating for historically marginalized groups. She is committed to community service and leadership as well as the merger of creativity and technology, with goals to improve education, healthcare and inclusivity in the technology industry. Outside her studies, she enjoys intramural sports, creative writing and travel.

The BMO National Scholarship has made a powerful difference for Louise, who faced financial barriers. “I watched my sister work tirelessly to support herself through university, and I had the same difficult path to follow,” she says. “BMO’s dedication to creating opportunity and supporting education has given me a tremendous chance to pursue my goals and help others.”

 


 

Sophie Mutch

Social Sciences
Victoria College

“I want to combine my passion for public health and law to contribute to policy reform and build a more sustainable health-care system.”

Sophie Mutch became interested in the health-care system and health system issues after working for Ontario’s Middlesex-London Health Unit in high school. She wants to major in public policy and chose the University of Toronto for its rigour and quality of education.

Sophie is grateful for the financial and other support provided through the BMO National Scholarship, which includes access to a faculty mentor. “My mentor has been incredibly helpful, providing guidance, insight and an extra layer of support that has enriched my academic experience,” she says.

Before U of T, Sophie’s experience included advising on the 2021–22 federal budget as a youth consultant, serving as a student senator for her school board, reporting on local events for a youth media outlet and hosting the inaugural Ontario Youth Film Festival. She also enjoys musical theatre, running, reading and music.

 


 

Zupaash Naveed

Computer Science
University of Toronto Scarborough

“It is difficult to express how impactful BMO’s donation has been for me. Without them, I don’t think I would have been able to attend U of T.”

Zupaash Naveed was inspired by her father, who amplified minority voices in academia around the world. At 14, she chaired her first female empowerment conference, encouraging women from underrepresented communities to become STEM industry leaders.

Zupaash chose the University of Toronto because its values align with hers. However, she needed some help realizing her aspirations. “It is difficult to express how impactful BMO’s donation has been for me. Without them, I don’t think I would have been able to attend U of T.”

She is studying computer science and aims to specialize in software engineering with the goal of starting her own company. Through her advocacy, she is active in several STEM student clubs and excited to continue empowering women in her field.

 


 

Natalie Oulikhanian

Public Policy & Computer Science
Victoria College

“BMO’s support is a lesson in lifetime generosity—a powerful reminder of the impact kindness can have on a person’s life.”

Natalie Oulikhanian plans to major in public policy and economics, focusing on data analytics, alongside a minor in computer science. By combining scientific and political insights, she seeks to generate innovative solutions to pressing challenges, including her goal as an aspiring lawyer to help social and legal systems adapt to emerging technologies.

Natalie found the University of Toronto’s range of research and interdisciplinary opportunities to be a perfect fit, and she is grateful to BMO for enabling her to make the most of her education. “BMO’s support is a lesson in lifetime generosity— a powerful reminder of the impact kindness can have on a person’s life. Their scholarship has opened a range of potential I never knew was possible.”

 


 

Elliot Savin

Social Sciences
Woodsworth College

“This support has made my dream of becoming a lawyer much more possible.”

Building on her passion for advocacy and creative writing, Elliot Savin is interested in studying political science and philosophy at U of T with plans to major in Peace, Conflict and Justice. She aspires to a law degree focusing on international law and has participated in Moot competitions and on the Faculty of Arts & Science Council. Outside the classroom, Elliot is a highperformance cross-country skier who competed for many years in her hometown of Calgary.

“I hope to use my education to advance social movements in international law,” she says. “Through BMO’s generosity, I have been able to move to Toronto and chase a dream in higher education. This support has made my dream of becoming a lawyer much more possible.”

 


 

Sera Tulk

Humanities
Victoria College

“By virtue of BMO’s kindness, I can pursue post-secondary education, which is such an immense privilege.”

“I want to re-introduce to my peers stories lost in the past and strengthen the bond between young people and their communities,” says Sera Tulk, who is pursuing a joint major in history and Book and Media Studies at U of T. Her prior experience includes being part of a delegation led by Veteran Affairs Canada to mark the 80th anniversary of the 1942 Dieppe raid. Her involvement stemmed from her role in the Girl Guides of Canada’s national youth council.

“I think the University of Toronto is the only place in Canada that lets me pursue all of my passions at once,” says Sera, who is also considering minors in Mediaeval Studies or French. “By virtue of BMO’s kindness, I can pursue post-secondary education, which is such an immense privilege.”

 


 

Mac Xing

Life Sciences
Trinity College

“U of T provides more than just an exceptional education. It gives students a supportive and welcoming environment to form connections.”

“My parents always emphasized two things,” says Mac Xing. “Firstly, they wanted me to chase my dreams. Secondly, they wanted me to form meaningful relationships with all those around me.” Following his parents’ wise advice made the University of Toronto an easy choice for Mac. “U of T provides more than just an exceptional education. It gives students a supportive and welcoming environment to form connections.”

He is exploring various academic interests in life sciences and intends to combine his love for biology and relationship-building to ignite positive change. “I cannot help but feel endless appreciation for BMO’s support in making these opportunities a reality,” says Mac. “I am beyond excited to be working toward my dreams.”

 


We invite you to meet the National Scholars from other years: