Meet the 2019 Pearson Scholars

The Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship was created to bring exceptional students from around the world to study at the University of Toronto. We are pleased to announce and welcome these outstanding students as members of the 2019 cohort of award recipients.

If you have any questions you would like to ask about the Pearson Program or of the Pearson Scholars, please send all your questions and enquiries to 

AtharvAAtharv Agrawal

Hiranandani Foundation School International Powai

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

“I am Atharv Agrawal, from Mumbai, India! I study at Hiranandani Foundation School, Powai. My core system in life is to proactively and positively contribute to society to the best of my capabilities, and it has guided me in all my endeavors.

“My academic interests lie in economics, mathematics, public policy, and international relations; however, more than anything, I like to learn new things! This led me to engage in an academic enquiry on the socioeconomic impacts of caste-based affirmative action in India under the guidance of a social anthropologist. I have been involved in a lot of leadership roles—I was the Secretary-General of my school’s Model United Nations conference for three years, served on the executive board of Harvard MUN Beijing, and was a Youth Delegate at the United Nations Youth Assembly. Community service has been an integral part of my life. Some noteworthy projects I have been involved in are a food-collection drive for underprivileged cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, and a value-based education program for children of construction-site workers. I am a national-level swimmer—swimming competitively for the past nine years—and swimming has played a crucial role in shaping me into the person I am today. I have also dabbled in sports journalism, writing for local and national newspapers.

“Given my myriad interests, the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship provides me with more than I could have ever dreamed of—an institution as diverse as the University of Toronto, a city as vibrant as Toronto, and the freedom to explore the world and chart my path. I cannot wait to start my journey at U of T!”

Muhammad Shahmeer AtharMuhammad Shahmeer Athar

Faculty of Arts & Science, St. Michael’s College, Computer Science

Froebel’s International School Lahore

“Hi! I’m Shahmeer from Pakistan. I plan on studying computer science and economics, along with exploring other academic areas from philosophy to cinema studies to bring my interdisciplinary passions to life. I’m an avid photographer and you can almost always spot me with my camera in hand. My interests in photography and CS have led me to study computational photography and computer vision in a bid to research and develop photo enhancement algorithms, applications for autonomous systems and learning environments for visually disabled individuals. I am also always available for a chat on topics from horror movies (I’m a huge fan of the genre!) to watchmaking and everything in between. I am honoured to be a Pearson Scholar and am looking forward to developing a strong bond with such a diverse and talented group.”

Nikiela BaptisteNikiela Baptiste

Shiva Boys’ Hindu College
Trinidad and Tobago

University of Toronto Mississauga, Forensic Science

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.

“My name is Nikiela Baptiste. I am currently completing my CAPE studies at Shiva Boys’ Hindu College. I was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. Words can’t describe how excited and honoured I am to be awarded a Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. I strive to excel in all my endeavours and cannot wait to embark on this new chapter in September.

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us’ (Marianne Williamson)
“Daily, my goal is to embrace this light and unselfishly allow others to do the same.”

Rohan ChadhaRohan Chadha

The Shri Ram School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Management and Quantitative Finance

“Hi! My name is Rohan Chadha, I have recently completed my senior year of high school from the Shri Ram School in India. Along with my academic endeavors, I have actively been involved in basketball, music and travelling.

“Having been born and brought up in India, I have had first-hand experience in what a city like Delhi has to offer. It is largely due to this that I started getting involved in community service. I found that a large section of the economically weaker section of the society had very limited access to healthcare. This is when I decided to start my own initiative to provide these villagers with healthcare services and education. It is my goal to continue my efforts in improving the community in any way I can.

“I have always been interested in numbers and the financial aspect of things. Moreover, it has been my dream since the age of 11 to become an investment banker and I hope to make that a reality at U of T. Most of all, I am very excited to start my U of T journey and to meet and interact with new people from all walks of life!”

Vidur Narayan ChannaVidur Narayan Channa

Pathways World School, Aravali

Faculty of Arts & Science, New College, Social Sciences

‘If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet’ (Rachel Wolchin)

“My name is Vidur Channa, and I have had the opportunity to live in multiple cultures with experiences spread across India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Through this journey, I have developed an internationally oriented way of thinking alongside a passion to drive change across various levels of society using economics.

“I am also an avid debater and a passionate MUN member, having won several accolades and held leadership positions across several international conferences. I believe that diplomacy is the key to solving many of humanity’s greatest issues, such as the migrant crisis in Southeast Asia, which I’ve seen firsthand through interactions with refugees in both Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Joining the University of Toronto as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I look forward to making a difference in the community!”

Aryan DharAryan Dhar

Podar International School

Faculty of Arts & Science, Trinity College, Computer Science

“Hello! My name is Aryan Dhar, an IB student of Podar International School from Mumbai, India. Prior to Mumbai, I was born and brought up in the United Arab Emirates. Over the course of the last four years, I strove to achieve the best, academically and in terms of extracurriculars. Most notably, I have organized a TEDxYouth Conference, emerged 7th globally in the World Scholars Cup, and engaged in Natural Language Processing Research at Mumbai University, amongst other achievements. Academically, I was recognized as the candidate with the highest score globally in my Further Pure Mathematics and French IGCSEs, and also attained the highest score nationally, in my Economics and Physics IGCSEs. With regards to sports and the arts, I greatly enjoy horseback riding and have been recognized for my poetry, nationally and internationally. Being honored with the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, I anticipate continuing to develop my intellectual curiosity and utilizing the skillset I acquire to make a positive difference in the world.”

Nadia Khaled ElkafrawyNadia Khaled Elkafrawy

El Alsson British and American International School

University of Toronto Mississauga, Communication, Culture, Information & Technology

“Hello! My name is Nadia Elkafrawy, and I am from Cairo, Egypt. I am currently completing my final year as an A-Level student. Aside from being extremely passionate about business studies, my interests go beyond the realm of academia; they include global citizenship, community service and sports. Having represented Egypt abroad at several international youth leadership programs like CISV International and Camp Rising Sun, I have grown to appreciate the true value of both diversity and common humanity. Back home, I like to give back to my community by volunteering at the Egyptian Food & Clothing Banks as well as caring for stray dogs in my neighborhood. Playing soccer has also been an integral part of my life; I have competed for my school, and played in the Egyptian National Soccer League for Women and the U20 League. I am extremely grateful to have been chosen as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and granted this opportunity to study in one of the world’s most prestigious and multicultural universities. I cannot wait to start my journey at the University of Toronto.”

Lidia Usama Fawzy EstreedLidia Usama Fawzy Estreed

British Columbia Canadian International School in Cairo

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“I’m Lydia Estreed, and I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. Whilst growing up in this MENA region, I would see videos on the news of violent outbreaks and protests: civilians being gassed, and angry mobs of people yelling incomprehensible chants. As a 10-year-old, I did not understand how anything could warrant such violence or anger. As I became older and I could comprehend the context of this situation, my views shifted from wondering why people could be so outraged, to wondering how the inequalities among our people could have been left for so long without interference. Witnessing the pursuit for change during the Arab Spring pushed me to seek a deeper understanding of the economic and political realities of our world. Constructing meaning for the theories and applications of these studies will help me navigate and comprehend what seemed to be a broken society and a lost democracy. It is my hope that the foundations of knowledge and learning offered at U of T will then allow me to work towards empowering those disadvantaged in society, namely anyone at a loss because of their race, gender, or socio-economic class.”

Kate FanKate Fan

Takapuna Grammar School
New Zealand

Faculty of Arts & Science, New College, Rotman Commerce

“My name is Kate Fan and I was born and raised in beautiful New Zealand. I aim to explore my passion for social justice and the environment through assimilating mathematics, statistics, and computer science in my major. As UNICEF’s school ambassador and the environmental group leader of my high school, I aim to help level the playing field between the world’s most impoverished nations and the most affluent by investing quantitative skills in technological innovation. My other interests include travelling, playing the flute, table tennis, and tutoring work. I am truly honoured to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship and am very excited to call Toronto my new home. I look forward to studying alongside a diverse group of talented students at the University of Toronto.”

Santiago Gomez Montenegro FernandezSantiago Gomez Montenegro Fernandez

International School of Panama
Mexican student studying in Panama

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; Materials Engineering

“The notion that seemingly insignificant actions can have substantial effects has always fascinated me. This phenomenon is what catalyzed my passion for materials engineering in the first place. The slightest variations at the atomic and molecular levels can completely alter the properties of a material, ranging from electrical to chemical aspects. From such a niche curiosity stems my ultimate dream to process and design efficient and sustainable materials. Considering that engineering is exposed to frequent paradigm shifts, as are the needs and wants of society, I plan to engage in research, entrepreneurship, and other extracurricular activities at the University of Toronto to build essential skills to adapt to these unpredictable changes and achieve my dreams while facing the known and the unknown.

“The idea that minute actions have significant effects is not confined to the field of materials science. Even the smallest contributions towards the common good can influence the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors for the better. Working with the Engineering Team of my school, installing photovoltaic systems in the homes of underprivileged families, taught me that simple engineering projects can improve entire communities. I came across this realization again when I worked alongside a small team to produce a successful Model United Nations conference in Panama, allowing international students to discuss issues of global importance. I intend to continue striving for social progress during my undergraduate years and beyond, even if it means taking small steps. Education is what a student makes of it. Propelled by the prestigious Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship and the brilliant community and resources of the University of Toronto, I am confident that my academic journey here will be boundless.”

Charlotte GossCharlotte Goss

Floral Park Memorial High School
New York, U.S.A.

Faculty of Music, Music Performance

“I am Charlotte Goss, from Floral Park, New York. I’ve always loved singing, and am very excited to study voice at the University of Toronto. I ultimately want to become an opera singer, and I know attending such a dynamic and distinguished university will help me achieve that goal. Besides my interest in music, I am an avid reader and aspiring writer. I’m proud to have volunteered extensively with my religious community, such as my work in the Pine Ridge American Indian Reservation. I am deeply passionate about sexual health and rights, which has led me to become a leader in my local community. As president of my school’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), I have successfully advocated for LGBTQ-focused health classes and staff development aimed at increasing tolerance among students and faculty alike. I am currently negotiating for gender-neutral school bathrooms, which will make the school a more comfortable environment for our genderqueer and transgender students. I like to think I have made my school a better place. I am honored to receive the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship, and plan on continuing my activism at U of T and beyond.”

Phuong Hanh HoangPhuong Hanh Hoang

Auckland International College
Vietnamese student studying in New Zealand

Faculty of Arts & Science, Innis College, Humanities

“Hi! I’m an 18-year-old Vietnamese student from Ho Chi Minh City. I spent most of my life there before coming to New Zealand in 2016 to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Auckland International College. I am both honored and humbled to have been selected as a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. At U of T, I plan to study Ethics, Society and Law, with the ultimate aim of contributing towards improving welfare systems in developing countries – starting with Vietnam.

“Outside of school, I am an ardent fan of Brooklyn 9-9, a sort-of bookworm, and an amateur pianist. I have also recently discovered a love for musicals and knitting. I’m also interested in languages; it is a personal goal of mine to have mastered 10 languages by the time I’m old (loosely defined to give myself more time if necessary!).”

Mai InagakiMai Inagaki

Elgin Park Secondary School
Japanese student studying in Canada

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Psychological and Health Sciences

“My name is Mai Inagaki and I am beyond honoured and humbled to be considered as a recipient of this year’s Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program. Even though I was born and raised in Japan, I have a Chinese father, making me half Japanese and half Chinese. Moving to Canada in 2011 with my mother and brother introduced me to the multicultural city of Vancouver, where I learned to welcome diverse cultures and be open to new experiences. As a high school student, I taught Japanese to children in my community and have been organizing an international trip for my students to study in Japan during the summer. Working with children brings me so much joy, and I hope to become a pediatric nurse or a pediatrician in the future. During my free time, you will most likely catch me busy with a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. Even though a part of me feels nostalgic to have to leave beautiful British Columbia, I am very excited to begin my next adventure in Toronto!”

Iman LalaniIman Lalani

Southbank International School
United Kingdom

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“I have grown up in Kenya, Pakistan and the U.K.; I am currently the recipient of the Milton Toubkin Scholarship award, which enabled me to study the International Baccalaureate in London. My interest in sustainability stemmed from having spent my formative years living overseas, where I interacted with spirited local communities and led various volunteering, afforestation and educational projects. The combination of achieving meaningful results whilst remaining aware that a plethora of obstacles still exist has been pivotal in motivating me to pursue a career in sustainable development. My leadership positions of student body president, Africa’s regional RoundSquare conference ‘Baraza’ leader and participant at the Ismaili program Global Encounters taught me the importance of cultural cohesion and mutual learning. I have tried to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals within my own life by adopting an ecocentric mindset, interning at NGOs and participating in Debate Club, Model United Nations, Students for the Environment and Global Issues Network. With the rise of anthropogenic activity, catalytic urbanization and social metabolism, I believe the goal ‘Climate Action’ should be prioritized as we rapidly encroach on our target to keep the global temperature rise to a minimum of 1.5 degrees. I am incredibly grateful to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship and I know that this opportunity will allow me to continue to excel academically and work towards contextualized solutions that result in holistic development. I believe that studying at the University of Toronto will empower me to work towards a future that emphasizes green growth in the Anthropocene as a necessity, rather than an option.”

Silvia Carolina Lopez PortilloSilvia Carolina Lopez Portillo

Escuela Internacional Sampedrana

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; TrackOne Engineering

“My name is Silvia Carolina Lopez, and I am currently finishing my senior year at Escuela Internacional Sampedrana in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I am honored and thrilled to be receiving this incredible scholarship opportunity at the University of Toronto. My academic interests tend to center around mathematics and the physical sciences. However, I’ve also spent years refining my passion for the visual arts through drawing, painting, and two-dimensional animation. I envision my future as an engineer because it’s a practical way of fusing logic and creativity. I am excited to begin the TrackOne Engineering program at U of T to be a step closer to my goal of returning to Honduras to stimulate growth and progress through innovation.”

Prerna MagonPrerna Magon

Police DAV Public School, Jalandhar

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Psychological and Health Sciences

“I am incredibly honored to have received the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. I am a high school student from India with a keen interest in psychological research. I recently developed a card and board game aimed at reducing implicit biases and will be representing India at the Intel International Science and Engineering fair. Psychological theory has always interested me and the analysis of human behavior fuels me but my ingenuity expressed through this board game is a brain-child inspired by life incidents that impacted me. I also enjoy debate and philosophy. I have also participated in several Model UN conferences as a moderator, organizer and a delegate, landing several awards. Aside from intellectual interests, I enjoy playing several sports. I have played Table Tennis and Wushu at the National Level and am proficient in several other sports, such as basketball. I am looking forward to being a part of the University of Toronto’s diverse community.”

Samantha Moura Novais de QuadrosSamantha Moura Novais de Quadros

Brookswood Secondary School
Brazilian student studying in Canada

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Humanities

“Hi! My name is Samantha Moura Novais de Quadros and I am from Salvador, Bahia—the first ever capital of Brazil. For the past two years, I’ve been living in Langley, a small city in the province of British Columbia. In Brazil, I was Class President for five years, being part of the team that revised the school’s statute, adapting the document for a new generation of students. In Canada, I’m a member of the Leadership Team, which allowed me to be involved and organize both school and community-wide events. I’m also very passionate about acting and writing. I’m part of the theatre club at my school and the director of my own play, which was selected as a YouthWright winner at the annual British Columbia Drama Festival. My enthusiasm and curiosity to gain more knowledge led to my participation in the Law, Politics and Economics summer program at Yale Young Global Scholars. That, combined with my multicultural experiences as an international student, fueled my interest to study international relations and has ignited my ambition to become a diplomat in the future. I am looking forward to being a part of the Humanities at the University of Toronto, as it will help me understand more thoroughly how history, law, social circumstances and political systems are rapidly molding society, and how poverty and inflation are a consequence of the international system’s failures. I’m ready to begin a new journey, becoming even closer to reaching my dream, while also witnessing history with my own eyes and partaking in the transformation and construction of a better and more ethical society. I feel honored to be a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and I will make a great effort to contribute as much as possible to this great academic institution.”

Arailym MussilimArailym Mussilim

Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Chemistry and Biology Shymkent

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Management

“Hello! I am Arailym Mussilim from Shymkent, Kazakhstan—a Kazakh girl with ambitious goals, who is a curious and persistent reader and do-er, willing to be a leader in the future. Having participated in various events and clubs, I am on the way to unlocking the path to my full potential. Along with achieving high academic performance, I am deeply motivated to learn more about cultures and languages. With the multicultural student body at U of T, I will have a golden opportunity to find dynamic, enthusiastic and like-minded individuals, as well as a chance to experience a diversity of thoughts, beliefs and perspectives. In the formation of the best version of myself, I am honored that the next stage will happen at U of T and I will become a tiny part of this fantastic environment. I believe limits do not exist at all; they are created in our minds by ourselves. Therefore, let the dreams come true.”

Vanessa Nyambura NdiranguVanessa Nyambura Ndirangu

International School of Kenya

Faculty of Arts & Science, St. Michael’s College, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

“My name is Vanessa Ndirangu and I am 18 years old. I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, which is where I live to date. As it is with many Nairobians, some of the values that I abide by closely are compassion, hard work, and positivity. When people first meet me, they sometimes get the impression that I am very serious, but that could not be further from the truth. Depending on my surroundings, I can really be an extrovert. I love adventure, meeting new people and I enjoy public speaking as well. I also have a passion for mathematics and have recently acquired a liking for dance, which I hope to explore further.

“Living in the busy city of Nairobi has really made me appreciate the hard work it takes to economically lift a country from low to middle income. It has also opened my eyes to the unfair wealth distribution that happens when policies are not well-implemented. For this reason, I hope to study economics at the University of Toronto, in order to gain a clear understanding of how such policies work and decide on how I want to make a difference in my country. I hope to pursue the specialist program in Economics and Mathematics offered at the St. George campus so that I can continue exploring my passion for mathematics further.”

Sai Vipin NikamSai Vipin Nikam

Fergusson College, Pune

Faculty of Arts & Science, New College, Humanities

“My name is Sai Nikam and I am from India, the land of pluralistic and multi-cultural diversity with a rich tapestry of religions, languages, festivals and traditions.

“I believe that being human is an experience in itself, and I love to delve into the depths of its essence and try to decipher it as much as I can. I am passionate about Indian Classical Music which I have been learning for nearly 6 years, and which I hold to be a connection with the self. I want to major in Cognitive Science, which is the interdisciplinary study of mind and brain, integrating psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy. I feel incredibly honoured and humbled to receive the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship, and I shall strive to personify the principles of utmost diligence and dedication towards my work, and hence make the most out of this phenomenal opportunity! I believe that the University of Toronto can provide me with the best possible resources to enrich myself not only as a student but also as an individual.”

Amanda Marie RokickyAmanda Marie Rokicky

Our Lady of the Elms
Ohio, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

“My name is Amanda Rokicky, and I am from Northeast Ohio in the United States. Ever since I was a little girl, I used to look up at the stars and dream of all the endless possibilities and opportunities in this world. Each one of us is a unique constellation in the galaxy of humanity, and each one of us has a profound impact on those around us. I hope to make a powerful impact on those around me, and being a Lester B. Pearson Scholar has given me the chance to do just that. Through the years, I have been actively involved in my community through volunteering at STEM camps for underprivileged children and serving at local hunger centers. Athletics has always been an important part of my life, and I have played softball for nine years, basketball for eight, and soccer for six. In high school, I held several leadership positions, including class president, class treasurer, class secretary, and softball team captain. I love STEM and have furthered my mathematics education by taking classes at a local college for several years. I am truly honored to receive this award and look forward to meeting my University of Toronto family.”

Alyssa Anne RosenzweigAlyssa Anne Rosenzweig

Dougherty Valley High School
California, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Innis College, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

“I’m fascinated by mathematics as a tool to understand and improve the world in the digital era, driving me to study, tutor, and tinker with math. I also enjoy creating visual art, combining math with a creative spark on a digital canvas.

“Outside school, I lead Panfrost, an open-source computer graphics driver, writing software and collaborating with a geographically diverse community. I have shared my work on Panfrost at international technical conferences. And hay, wherever I go, I’m horsing around with quirky puns! I’m honoured to be named as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and to have the opportunity to study and contribute at the University of Toronto.”

Vera-Ann Yaa Ahemba SackeyVera-Ann Yaa Ahemba Sackey

Morgan International Community School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Management

“Hello! My name is Vera-Ann Sackey. My home is in Akosombo, Ghana, and I am a final-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma student in Morgan International Community School, Ghana. Having entered Boarding School at age 12, I learnt to be independent at an early age. I developed the ability to challenge myself by continuously stepping out of my comfort zone. As a result, I am involved in a wide range of extra-curricular activities ranging from sports, theatre, animation, community service, journalism, catering, and music and I have balanced these perfectly with my academic work. I have participated in many international conferences, so I appreciate the value of being global-minded. Thus, I am honoured to have been granted the opportunity to study in one of the most diverse cities in the world, in Canada’s leading university. Aside benefitting from U of T’s world-class education, I look forward to contributing immensely to this already prestigious community.”

Thaisa Tylinski Sant'AnaThaisa Tylinski Sant’Ana

International School of Curitiba

University of Toronto Mississauga, Life Sciences

“For the past 18 years, I have lived in Curitiba: a lively city known for its many parks, its iconic eye-shaped museum, and its four-seasons-in-a-day weather. Ever since I was four years old and began studying at the International School of Curitiba, I found myself a second home. In the school’s tight-knit community, I was able to build lasting friendships, delve into my passions, and make the most of unforgettable experiences that range from engaging in annual academic competitions to participating in international sports championships. Learning about the pivotal importance of genetically modified crops for the Brazilian economy sparked my interest in biotechnology, along with a desire to foster positive change through science. Attending the University of Toronto will prepare me academically for work in research while allowing me to experience different cultures in its truly international environment. I am deeply honored to embark in this new adventure as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and I can’t wait to be a part of the U of T community!”

Maya Rukmini ShankarMaya Shankar

Bridgewater Raritan Regional High School
New Jersey, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Computer Science

“My name is Maya Shankar and I’m from Bridgewater, New Jersey. I enjoy meeting new friends, singing or listening to music, or just a nice cup of tea. My academic interests vary widely, and I’ve never found a subject I didn’t want to learn.

“At school, I pursue my passions as the Executive Producer of my school TV program, as a section leader in my honors choir, or by tutoring as a member of the French Honor Society or National Honor Society. Outside school, I enjoy teaching music through my Sunday school and volunteering at community events. I am also an accomplished Carnatic vocalist and am pursuing certification from an Indian university.

“I aspire to research and develop socially responsible artificial intelligence, and apply it to improve accessibility to technology. U of T presents unique opportunities to learn, explore, and share my own knowledge at one of the best research universities in the world, surrounded by the beautiful and diverse city of Toronto. I am excited and honored to join the University of Toronto family as a 2019 Lester B. Pearson International Scholar.”

Diktshya SharmaDiktshya Sharma

Regent’s International School Bangkok
Bhutanese student studying in Thailand

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“Hello! I am Diktshya, a student currently studying in Thailand and originally from Bhutan, a small country nestled in the mighty Himalayas. I am so excited to add yet another colour to the vibrant diversity of the University of Toronto. I have always been keen on understanding international systems and their impacts, and it is such an honor to be able to pursue this as my field of education at U of T. I am deeply inspired by many humanitarian workers, fascinated by their commitment to help others and hope to also make a difference. I believe that I am just as everyone is and hope to contribute to social change in order to provide equal opportunities for all. I love platforms where I can express, as well as learn from, contemporary art and music. Through my university years, I wish to cultivate a wider mindset and develop more as a global citizen.”

José Pablo Siliézar CarrilloJosé Pablo Siliézar Carrillo

Antigua International School

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; Industrial Engineering

“Hi! My name is José Pablo Siliézar, and I am a 17-year-old high school student from Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala. I was raised in Retalhuleu, a small coastal town in the south of Guatemala, and grew up to set the highest academic standards for myself. Driven by curiosity, I have always been naturally attracted to learning. Eventually, my family and I took the hard decision to move to Antigua Guatemala, to help me accomplish my academic goals. In Guatemala’s most diverse and beautiful city, I was not only able to pursue and fulfill my intellectual curiosity, but I also discovered unknown passions for sports, music and community service. I have been part of my school’s soccer team, a board member of student-led organizations like the Interact Club and the Student Council, and learned to play the piano.

“As of now, it is impossible for me to describe how honored and thankful I am for being selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholarship recipient. I am looking forward to exploring Toronto and being able to call it my second home. I am incredibly excited to meet people from every corner of the world, get to know their culture, and work alongside students who are as driven and passionate as I am to find solutions to global problems. I plan to take advantage of every opportunity that U of T has to offer, try to become the very best version of myself every day, and pursue my passions at one of the world’s best academic institutions.”

Lucy Evelyn StarkLucy Evelyn Stark

Cab Calloway School of the Arts
Delaware, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, University College, Humanities

“Hi! My name is Lucy Stark and I’m graduating from Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware. I’m currently completing a digital media major with a specialization in filmmaking and digital design. By combining my artistic interests and passion for history, I’ve been able to produce two historical documentaries for a National History Day competition. My first documentary, about the American eugenics movement, won my team a place at the national competition. My current documentary project focuses on Patient HM, who was subjected to a bilateral lobotomy that destroyed his ability to create new memories. Among other activities, I also lead my school’s Abolitionists Club, a group that spreads awareness about human trafficking in order to educate our school community and take steps towards aiding victims. I’m incredibly honored to have been named a Pearson Scholar and am beyond excited to join the University of Toronto’s Class of 2023. I hope to further pursue my interests in history and economics through this incredible opportunity, as well as participate in undergraduate research and student government opportunities.”

Suddene O-Wayne StoneSuddene O-Wayne Stone

Saint Jago High School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Psychological and Health Sciences

“Hi there! I am Suddene Stone, the Head Boy for St. Jago High School 2018-2019. I may be described as a very friendly, open-minded and enthusiastic individual. During my time in secondary school, I have been involved in various co-curricular activities/service organizations such as Key Club International, The Emerging Global Leaders Jamaica, and the Peer Counselling Unit, and I was the student manager of my school’s girls’ football team. My life philosophy stems from the famous quote by Apple founder Steve Jobs: ‘The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.’ With this mindset, my time at the University of Toronto will be geared towards equipping myself with the relevant knowledge and expertise in order to make a contribution towards global change. It is a sincere honour and privilege to be a part of the Pearson Scholars community and I look forward to the challenging and rewarding experience it will bring.”

Ecem SungurEcem Sungur

The Koç School

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design; Architectural Studies

“I am Ecem Sungur: a future architect, innovator, musician and most importantly a student who aspires to make a change with diligence, ambition, and grit.

“I was born and raised in Istanbul, a multicultural and historic city in Türkiye with 16 million people. The crowded nature of Istanbul with its variety of buildings made me realize my passion for developing new ideas related to architecture.

“My interest in architecture relies on how much architecture has an effect on our lives. Even though shelter has always been searched for by humanity, I believe architecture to be a mode of transferring ideas, emotions and culture while remaining functional. Today, due to the increasing effects of global warming and energy needs, architecture is transforming its focus from mere buildings to living forms.

“To teach students the terms of design and architecture, and how these terms can be implemented in real life concerning external circumstances, I wrote a guide book on the design steps I applied and how design could be developed. I discovered the boundaries of a science that uses art, research, innovation and creativity through a variety of projects that take design and architecture into account.

“I am very honored to win the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship. I hope that I can contribute to the scientific, creative and academic ecosystem of U of T and share my inspiration and motivation with the community.”

Naw Cindy SweetNaw Cindy Sweet

Cambridge Tutors College
Myanmar student studying in the United Kingdom

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Life Sciences

“After losing my grandmother to a cancer that should have been diagnosed sooner and treated, I was shocked to realize that there are many other people in Myanmar, my home country, who are in a similar situation to mine, overlooking the need for regular medical check-ups and treatments, in many cases due to financial reasons. I wanted to find a solution; I aspire to develop affordable personalized treatment, especially for patients with cognitive problems.

“Since then, I have been determined to achieve my goal and I never gave up trying. In 2016, I was awarded a full scholarship to study A-levels in the UK, thanks to generous sponsors. Besides academic study, I like to spend my time dancing and singing. I also try to raise health awareness in communities and villages, and by volunteering in care homes and hospitals, where I share my personal story at the same time as educating others.

“I am deeply honored to be the Lester B. Pearson International Scholar for Co-op Life Sciences (Biological Sciences and Neuroscience) as the knowledge of mechanisms of the brain and behaviors gained at the University of Toronto will bring me one step closer to achieving my goals. I believe that every person should never give up on their future and work their hardest to better themselves because there is always an award, big or small, at each step of their lives.

“I would like to thank everyone for this amazing opportunity and I cannot wait to enter a new and exciting phase of my life in the University of Toronto community.”

Yee TsuiYee Tsui

Victoria Shanghai Academy
Hong Kong

Faculty of Arts & Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

“Hello, my name is Yee, and I am from Hong Kong. From my experience of attaching to a local hospital the last two summers, and from what I have learned in various courses and programmes, I realize that medicine has limits in curing the incurable and preventing diseases at the societal level. This reinforces my aspiration to become a physician-scientist and my interest in medical research and public health, areas that I intend to pursue during my time here. I am very excited to begin the next chapter of my life at U of T, a world-class research university. I am sure that the opportunities U of T offers will equip me with the international-mindedness, skill set, and knowledge necessary for me to work towards improving others’ lives.

“Although I am more science-oriented, I am also an artist at heart. Painting allows me to express my feelings, and my interest in the human condition drives my compassion for others. I love spending my free time doing something active, like hiking, cycling, jogging and playing hockey. Having played ball hockey for five years, I can’t wait to try ice hockey and go to my first NHL game!”

Fondzenyuy TonyLouis VerberiFondzenyuy TonyLouis Verberi

St. Augustine’s College, Nso

University of Toronto Scarborough, Physical and Environmental Sciences

“I am a 16-year old boy who grew up in the Western highlands of Cameroon, situated in Central Africa. The diversity of this region in all its forms sparked my curiosity and tenacity towards achieving my academic goals. I am one of the few African kids who got contaminated by the contagious joy and love for astrophysics during my high school studies. Out of the classroom, I love singing, watching the red African sky and volunteering. In September 2018, I participated in the STEM Aerospace challenge organised by the New York Academy of Sciences. Also, I attended the OpenDreams Summer Academy in July 2017, which provided me with mentorship and facilities that I needed to successfully apply for undergraduate scholarship programs during the most difficult times in my community. In a nutshell, my vision is to change the view of astrophysics on the African continent. I believe an empowered community would only be realised when the young generation is educated in an innovative curriculum that permits the exploration of new fields such as aerosciences. I look forward to joining the holistic community of the University of Toronto, which is home to some of the brightest minds on the globe.”

Urvi VerkhedkarUrvi Verkhedkar

Garden International School, Kuala Lumpur
Indian student studying in Malaysia

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; Engineering Science

“Hello, I’m Urvi Verkhedkar and I’m currently completing my A Levels at Garden International School in Malaysia, after having moved here from India 9 years ago. I’m very passionate about sustainable development and equality, and I want to use my engineering knowledge/experience to help our cities (especially in India) progress with environmental and social interests in mind. In my free time, I enjoy hiking/running in the beautiful Malaysian rainforests, trying out new recipes from different cuisines and reading. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to become a Pearson Scholar, and I truly hope to give back to my community one day.”

Hamza Bin WaheedHamza Bin Waheed

Roots School System DHA-1 Flagship Campus

University of Toronto Mississauga, Commerce

“I’m from Islamabad, Pakistan, and my excitement of studying at the University of Toronto is over the top.

“Breaking the stereotypical social views that the only real professions are doctors and engineers, I’m pursing a commerce degree. My passion for attaining an education that provides both perspective and depth across diverse disciplines led me to studying multiple extra subjects in high school that were contrasting and discrete. Meeting new people and discovering new places has always been charming for me and the diversity that surrounds U of T has a special appeal for me. After postgraduate education and a few years of employment experience, I intend to return to Pakistan and start teaching so that I can extend my exclusive experience at U of T to others around me.

“I’m grateful to my family, teachers and friends who have supported me throughout my journey.”

Daniel WurgaftDaniel Wurgaft

Aleph High School of the Arts

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

‘Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world’ (Louis Pasteur)

“This quote resonates with me deeply as I believe that science can become a bridge between cultures and countries, for the language of knowledge can be spoken by all. My name is Daniel Wurgaft and I am from Tel Aviv, Israel. I was born in a country torn by conflict and I have watched with pain how war wracks people’s lives. Moreover, hate blinds people to the fact that we are all stranded on a tiny speck of dust, floating in space, and that we all share the same fate. I would like to pursue a career in science exploration and public policy-making and contribute to the use of science for uniting humanity and as a tool for its advancement rather than its demise.

“Beyond my passion for science, I am also enthusiastic about art and its power to express the human essence. I have been performing and writing music since the age of nine, with guitar and piano as my primary instruments. As part of my high school’s film department, I led a group of students in the making of two original films, for which I was the director and screenwriter. I have also been volunteering as a group counselor in the Israel Scouts movement for three years, striving to broaden my cadets’ horizons and encouraging them to always remain curious.

“I am endlessly grateful to the University of Toronto for awarding me the prestigious Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. I plan to fully embrace this amazing opportunity in order to acquire new perspectives and become a citizen of the world. I can’t wait to join the U of T community this coming fall!”