Meet the 2020 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 2020 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 

Taha Bin Aamir

Lahore Grammar School – Gulberg

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“Hello! My name is Taha and I am from Lahore, Pakistan. I am incredibly honored and humbled to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson scholar at U of T. I plan to specialize in financial economics, alongside exploring my interdisciplinary interests in core areas of political science and sustainability. The intricate nature of the root causes of global socio-economic issues played a key role in forming my intellectual curiosity for economics and its application in a real-world context.  However, my interests go beyond the realm of academia. In a quest to pin down my perspective on various economic and political occurrences, I enthusiastically publish articles on multiple editorials. Alongside this, I have been part of the public speaking community for over three years, having won numerous awards and accolades. Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege of serving the disadvantaged segment of my community, be it through my school’s welfare society or through participation in wide-scale social projects by local NGO’s. I look forward to pursue these interests at U of T, and to develop new ones as well!

“I firmly believe that from meeting culturally diverse people, to capitalizing on the work-integrated learning curriculum, each day at U of T will bring a wealth of experiences, shaping me into a driven, ambitious, and content individual. I cannot wait to start my journey at U of T!”


Natalie Elaine Boehmer

Grosse Pointe South High School
Michigan, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Humanities

“I am Natalie Boehmer from Grosse Pointe, just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and I am planning on studying English during my time in Toronto. I am absolutely in love with literature of any kind, from poetry to drama to huge novels that take up too much space on your bookshelf. I started a Shakespeare Club at my school that helped to expose students to the full extent of Shakespeare’s works outside of a classroom setting through monologue contests and full performances. I am also a member of two Girl Scout Troops, one of which is the Mackinac Island Governor’s Honor Guard where 56 girls from across Southeastern Michigan volunteer for the Fort Mackinac State Park as informational guides. I love to learn about other cultures, my interests spanning from Celtic studies to Hispanic cultures, and sometimes it feels like I want to learn a new language every other week. I am so thrilled to be a Pearson scholar, and I look forward to exploring Toronto!”

Whitney Venus Buluma

Greensteds International School

University of Toronto Mississauga, Psychology

“When I first indicated that I wanted to study psychology at university, I was told it was a waste of my potential and I should instead pursue something actually useful, like medicine or engineering. This blasé attitude towards mental health is rampant in Africa, particularly among those in the older generations. Part of the problem is that mental health issues are seen as Western phenomena, or as a result of ‘weakness’. Mental health awareness campaigns, particularly in these trying times, are slowly working to change these attitudes. I intend to contribute to these changes and help improve overall quality of life. My long term goal is to help rectify the current western focus of psychological research – and the resulting cultural bias –  by conducting and replicating psychological studies in Kenya (and Africa as a whole), thereby increasing their population validity and usefulness.”

Niharika Burugapalli

The Williams School
Indian student in Connecticut, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Life Sciences

“Hi, I’m Niha! I was born in India and grew up in the US. Apart from academics, I am very interested in visual art. I use my artwork to celebrate and foster cultural awareness and have had the privilege of displaying one of my paintings, expressing the joy of Holi, at the US Capitol Building. I use my art as a form of activism, drawing attention to society’s pivotal problems to enact positive change and have exhibited my work in several art galleries.

“Through art, I’ve even experientially demonstrated that it’s never too late to learn something new, challenging ageism and combating society’s negative perception of the elderly by teaching guided painting sessions to people in nursing homes who may not have painted since childhood. Art’s healing properties have led me to connect with patients in rehabilitation units of hospitals. Over the past year, I’ve had the humbling experience of painting alongside 250 people, from Vietnam veterans to cancer survivors to people recovering from traumatic brain injuries. Observing the positive change in a patient’s mood from the start to the end of a guided painting session, I conducted my own research project and wrote a research paper confirming the uplifting effects of art therapy, which has been accepted for publication. I was also selected as a speaker at an upcoming TEDx event, and I hope to empower others to find innovative ways to integrate their own talents into helping others.

“I also enjoy dancing, playing basketball, and acting. I am honored to be a Lester B. Pearson Scholar, and I am excited to pursue my academic and extracurricular interests at the University of Toronto while being enriched by its diversity.”

Rebecca Yenn Kay Chan

International School of Kuala Lumpur

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education

“More than once, I have been called a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. What many people forget, though, is the second part of this saying: ‘-but oftentimes better than a master of one’.

“On your left, you will see the culmination of an eclectic assortment of interests that have somehow, miraculously, been blended into some semblance of a person. With theatre tech, sports, audio mixing and video editing among those in my pile of hobbies, I am always seeking to broaden my horizons and explore this world—because it truly is a magnificent place, and I want to get to know it as much as possible. I am absolutely riveted by all the opportunities U of T has to offer, and grateful that the Lester B. Pearson scholarship has placed these opportunities within my grasp—and I am determined not to waste them.”

Daniel Corredor Llorente

Pearson College UWC
Colombian student in British Columbia, Canada

Faculty of Arts & Science, Trinity College, Social Sciences

Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Daniel has committed himself to becoming part of the next political generation that will build peace and equality in one of Latin America’s most violent and unequal countries. As an active leader from an early age and an emerging activist for peace-building in his country, Daniel wrote a book on education for peace and travelled extensively with CISV and The Experiment to share his nation’s experience on peace and conflict resolution, diversity, human rights, and sustainable development.

While in Colombia, Daniel played a leading role in planning the International Day of Peace in Bogotá and founding Paz A La Calle – 18, a social movement for minors to mobilize and express their support for a peace agreement in the country. Moreover, he was the president of his school’s student council and the conflict-mediation team, eventually becoming the president of the association of student councils in the city.

In 2018, Daniel moved to Canada after receiving a scholarship to Pearson College UWC, one of 18 worldwide United World Colleges, offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma program. At Pearson, he led the Global Affairs initiative, a co-curricular student club that hosted dialogue series with renowned Canadian and international speakers exploring major global issues, including climate change, reconciliation, and nonviolent social change. 

As a Lester B. Pearson scholar at the University of Toronto, Daniel is filled with optimism and commitment at the prospect of joining a cohort of diverse, talented, and driven young minds that will analyze the realities of the world as it is, to then re-imagine them as they could be.

Sami El Sabri

United World College Costa Rica
German student in Costa Rica

Faculty of Arts & Science, University College, Life Sciences

“My name is Sami El Sabri, and I am currently finishing my second year of the IB-program at the United World College Costa Rica (UWC). I was born and raised in Germany, but my family are Moroccan-Berber immigrants. Therefore, I grew up between two very different cultures and the UWC experience made me appreciate and love intercultural and international learning even more. I am honored and thrilled to be trusted with this outstanding scholarship opportunity at the University of Toronto.

“I am not only fond of intercultural learning, but also interdisciplinary learning. I enjoy geography, human biology, linguistics, anthropology, psychology, politics and urban development. Combining my very wide array of interests has been a difficult task, but at this point, I envision my future in the field of Public Health, as I see it as the interdisciplinary sweet spot. Through my enrollment at U of T, I aim to become the agent of change I always wanted to be and combine everything I will have learned to make a long-term positive impact.”

Ana Ferreira Meletti

Colégio Interativa

Faculty of Arts & Science, Woodsworth College, Social Sciences

“Hello! My name is Ana Meletti, and I am a student from Londrina, Brazil. Ever since the eighth grade, when I started attending my school, Colégio Interativa, I found myself exploring the most incredible opportunities. At Interativa, I found my passion for history, sociology, and geopolitics, which led me to crave a career in international relations. I hope to one day be involved in global politics and to help marginalized minorities in the world. I spent my three years of high school researching the education of Haitian immigrants in Brazil, playing the piano, working as a member/president of a fundraising junior company, and writing short stories with female protagonists. All these passions have granted me national and international awards in research and creative writing, and now I can say I am a 2020 Pearson Scholar! I cannot find ways to describe what this opportunity means to me—all I can say is I am eager to be a part of U of T’s Class of 2024 and to explore all the amazing opportunities the University has to offer.”

Luca Anthony Franchi

Dulwich College
United Kingdom

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering

“I was born to Dutch/Italian parents, but I was raised in South East London. I studied for A-levels in maths, further maths, physics and chemistry and whilst this may sound very science focused, the reason I chose to apply to U of T was because of the breadth of opportunities there. Aside from my academic pursuits, I am a very passionate musician; I study violin, piano, saxophone and voice and play in various groups, bands and orchestras. To stay healthy and happy, I enjoy spending time playing sports and hope to give ice hockey a go. I’m incredibly excited to join the U of T community! I was looking for an adventure for the next chapter of my life and no bigger adventure than travelling to Canada for my undergraduate studies!

“Just how far humans can go through technological advancements has always left me amazed. Inspired in particular by Elon Musk and all he does to better our species, I had my heart set on studying engineering from a very young age. For me it’s the best way to make a difference and apply maths and physics for the benefit of humanity. After my undergraduate study, I hope to work in the space sector and see where that takes me!

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me and I can’t wait to pounce on this once in a lifetime chance and make the most of it. All of my successes are owed to everyone who inspired and helped me along the way; a massive thank you to all of my teachers who have provided me with the tools to reach this exciting stage of my life and to my family for continuously supporting me!”

Paridhi Goel

Indraprastha World School

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

‘I think, therefore I am.’ (René Descartes)

“A Homo sapien who loves to deeply understand how different things and ideas work. My areas of interest include mathematics, computer science, physics, astronomy and philosophy. In high school, I made eleven preliminary asteroid discoveries under the All India Asteroid Search Campaign. I worked with a research group, studying the effects of climate change on the Antarctic glaciers.

“Apart from being the usual STEM nerd, I am also a black belt in Taekwondo and a National medalist. After eight years of practice, I have learned to live by the five tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Taekwondo has taught me to advocate equality and freedom with actions rather than words. The ultimate purpose of any martial art is to eliminate fighting by discouraging oppression over the weaker or less privileged and to build a more peaceful world based on humanity, wisdom and justice.

“I am honoured to receive the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I am extremely grateful to the University of Toronto for considering me a worthy recipient. I take it as my responsibility to make the most of this opportunity.”

Molly Elizabeth Graham

Wellington College Belfast
United Kingdom

Faculty of Arts & Science, University College, Life Sciences

“Hello! My name is Molly Graham and I am a student from Northern Ireland who has recently completed her studies at Wellington College Belfast. I firmly believe there is no greater cause in life than empowering communities to have the freedom to make responsible decisions and choose a life they value. Therefore, I would like to pursue a career in global health policy which focuses on social justice: maximising welfare, promoting freedom and rewarding virtue. I was chosen as Head Girl of my school in 2019-2020, which was an amazing opportunity for leadership skills, communication and responsibility. Among other roles, I have been part of the Christian Union committee, school council leadership, a principal organiser of the student school concert and a founding member of the Eco-Club (which most notably introduced biodegradable cutlery, food bins and removed single-use plastics from the canteen). In my free time, I love to be active in nature and particularly enjoy hiking and camping in the beautiful Mourne Mountains. I am incredibly honoured to have been awarded this scholarship. I will endeavour to integrate fully into the U of T learning community, where I can build the skills necessary to achieve my goals and be inspired by the diversity around me to push back the horizons of my hopes.”

Buse Güler

SEV American College

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Chemical Engineering  

“Hi! I’m Buse Güler from Istanbul, Turkey. Throughout my high school years, I’ve worked on discovering myself and searching for my passions. Although the discovery will last a lifetime, I think I found many passions.

“Two years ago, I realized a lot of high school students were indecisive of their fields of study, including me. Therefore, I founded a start-up called InTurn Platform with my two friends. In two years, I realized I take great pleasure in being an entrepreneur, constantly creating new ideas, and also helping many young people find their paths.

“Meanwhile, I found my path in a visit to a chemical engineering laboratory. I was inspired by the combination of chemistry, math, and physics in every aspect of our lives. I aspire to work on the renewable energy technologies in the future, so I’m excited to learn more about and become a part of the research done on energy solutions and beyond at U of T.

“I’m also quite passionate about photography and videography as I love to spend my time taking photographs of the beautiful city that I was born in and editing videos of my travels.

“I am beyond excited and honored to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. I have no doubt that U of T is a great place to fulfill my aspirations. I hope to give back to my community as much as the opportunities U of T will offer.”

Salokhiddin Gulyamov

International School Manila
Uzbek student in the Philippines

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

“I am a firm believer that the systems that have confined many into a cycle of poverty can be the same restorative power that brings about societal equity through sustainable and inclusive economic development.

“I am Slava Gulyamov and I come from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. For the past 6 years, I have been living in Manila, Philippines, studying at International School of Manila.

“Due to my experiences in this country, I have personally observed that which goes unnoticed for the majority—the day-to-day lives of people living below the poverty line. In spite of the challenges they face, time and time again, I have been truly inspired by their unparalleled perseverance. Throughout high school, I traveled around the Philippines, participating in numerous projects and working alongside local community leaders to empower their efforts in improving the lives of their people.

“Though living abroad has enriched my worldview and widened my horizons, I am also aware of the challenges at home. As of late, I have been consumed by my research into the detrimental effects of water abstraction on the Aral Sea. Once the prized jewel of Uzbekistan, it now lies dry beneath the bare sky, slowly poisoning the lives of my people as toxic salts and pesticides from the seabed rise into violent storms and plague the inhabitants with disease. I truly realized the extent of the issue through my modeling investigation and decided to tackle this problem by conducting scientific research and lab experiments, investigating economical purifying substances that could cleanse the waters of heavy contamination and alleviate the struggles of my people.

“All in all, I am humbled and honoured to have been recognized through this incredible scholarship. I hope to continue my active involvement in community service to realize my vision through my studies at University of Toronto.”

Colin Sanh Huynh

Skyline High School
Washington, U.S.A.

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

“My name is Colin Huynh and I grew up in Washington State. As an avid pianist and a competitive swimmer, I strive to achieve my highest potential in every aspect, which in turn has ignited my innate and competitive nature. Through participation in demanding extra-curriculars, I have become accustomed to balancing my academic ambitions alongside my musical and athletic passions.

“While I am recognized for successes within extra-curriculars, I have pride for humanitarian community work. Using my musical talents, I have been able to root connections within my community. The majority of this work has resided at local memory care centers, in which I have developed a fondness for both residents and staff members. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me that life is precious and one must live it to the fullest by sharing what you have to offer as an individual.

“I am grateful to become one of the recipients for the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship. The University of Toronto provides boundless opportunities and resources that will shape my foreseeable future in actuary science. I am eager to become a part of Toronto’s diverse community and join the class of 2024.”

Rahima Kamal

Beaconhouse School System, Canal Campus, Faisalabad

University of Toronto Mississauga, Psychology

“I am Rahima, an obsessively optimistic and overly excited human being who loves studying about the human brain and deciphering the bewitching human behavior. Apart from my academic achievements and interests, I have a myriad of co-curricular achievements ranging from being a national-level athlete, a national-level debater, and internationally recognized in creative writing. I have held several leadership positions such as being the head girl, president of debating society, president of English literary society and many more.

“In this fast-paced era of modernization as everyone focuses on AI and the new axioms of technology, I believe that to excel in AI as a society we need to decipher human behavior to a greater extent, and that’s what I plan to do. Unfortunately, my community consists of people engaged in a relentless battle of survival, people oppressed by various laws allowing evils such as bonded labor; hence, the importance of studying human behavior is greatly overlooked.  But my country is not the only country with this problem, there are many others. These countries are skipping a vital step on the road of development and it’s my goal to work together with other globally aware individuals to highlight this issue in such countries. I have already worked long hours to uplift my community and I know I have a long way ahead of me but I believe, by our powerfully absurd ability to love our dreams like they are immortal, we end up immortalizing them, and ourselves—that’s the goal. I am honored to be a part of the University of Toronto family and I consider this scholarship a life-changing gift from the world. And I plan to return it one day.”

Jie Yi Kuik

Nexus International School

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

“Hello! My name is Jie Yi Kuik. I am from Malaysia, a multicultural country in Southeast Asia, and I am truly humbled and thrilled to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship this year. Recently, I have completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Nexus International School Malaysia. As a person who believes in giving back to society in whichever way she can, I have taught Orang Asli (the indigenous people in Malaysia) children, orphans, and individuals with Down’s Syndrome how to design t-shirts and express their ideas artistically. I also co-organized charity piano recitals to raise funds for various organizations, including the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) and the Afghan Learning Centre (a programme supported by UNHCR). From these experiences, I learnt that my efforts, however small they are, could make a positive difference in my community. In the future, I would like to work as a child psychologist. Aside from participating in voluntary activities, I also enjoy bouldering and playing squash. I look forward to starting my new journey at the U of T!”

Manintorn Lomtakul

Bangkok Patana School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Management and International Business

“Hello! My name is Manintorn Lomtakul, but you can call me Mars. I was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, and have attended Bangkok Patana School. Reducing inequalities and creating a positive change in my community is something which I am incredibly passionate about. Whether it’s creating audiobooks for blind children or organising conferences to raise awareness about social issues, I hope to bring my enthusiasm for sustainable development with me in my future endeavours. 

“Throughout my high school career, I began to value the organisational functions of business—the ability to allocate the right people to the right job to solve the right problem—more than ever before. Having written reports to suggest solutions for an internal business problem and as a Thai representative at the International Trade Challenge Asia Pacific Finals in Malaysia, I seek for opportunities to better my communication, leadership and critical thinking skills.

“As a do-er by nature, I strongly believe the co-op program will equip me with invaluable experiences to learn from and grow as an individual. I look forward to joining many student clubs, meeting new people, and contributing to the vibrant community at the University of Toronto. I am extremely excited and honoured to receive the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and cannot wait to join the class of 2024!”

Anuj Manchanda

NIST International School

Faculty of Arts & Science, University College, Rotman Commerce

“Hi, I am AJ from NIST International School of Thailand. I am incredibly humbled and honored to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program. Having lived in Bangkok and interacted with an international community my whole life, I continue to appreciate and cherish the diverse array of opinions and talents to which I am exposed. I am particularly passionate about the power of social enterprises and microfinancing, which I have fortunately been able to explore throughout high school. As such, the prospect of studying business subdisciplines like finance through the lens of social entrepreneurship and justice in the Rotman Commerce program excites me deeply. Outside of the classroom, I find joy in taking advantage of opportunities to explore my interests and connect with various communities through the student and service councils, environmental initiatives (even though I’m afraid of bugs), and musical performances (although most of them take place in my shower).

“I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to finding my role and bringing my voice to the University of Toronto’s vibrant, diverse, and talented community.”

Elena Maria Manzella

Newton North High School
Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Victoria College, Humanities

“Hello! My name is Elena, and I am thrilled to be welcomed to the University of Toronto’s class of 2024! I look forward to a comprehensive and engaging liberal arts education, pursuing my passion for linguistics and education while continuing to study French, Spanish, Arabic, and Modern Greek. Having been lucky enough to go on formative exchange programs to France and Mexico with my high school, I enjoy exploring the world and am grateful for the opportunity to live in the remarkably diverse city of Toronto. I love to dance and have been studying ballet since I was young. I am confident that my time at U of T will equip me to serve the public good, and I will work to honor Lester B. Pearson’s legacy of peace and leadership.”

Aamyneh Amyn Mecklai

Bombay International School

Faculty of Arts & Science, Trinity College, Rotman Commerce

An aspiring lawyer and social entrepreneur, Aamyneh hopes to study economics and finance. In 2018, she started ‘Speak To Lead,’  through which she taught conversational English, global awareness, and public speaking skills to students from low-income families enrolled at government-run schools to help students think critically, globally, and inquisitively. ‘Speak To Lead’ birthed an extraordinary family of 250 students united not by income-brackets, race, background, or language, but by their determined pursuit of knowledge: a desire to speak in order to lead.

Apart from teaching, Aamyneh dances ballet, plays the piano, and enjoys being a Virginia Woolf aficionado. She writes about the art of volunteering for India’s first weekly newspaper for children and spends her free time diversely:  researching about securities and financial markets; designing an e-mobile platform for rural India to help re-skill nurses in the field of oncology; or working on a documentary, ‘Bridges & Barriers of the English Language,’ which aims to raise awareness about the inequality in educational opportunity in correspondence with India’s Right To Education Act, 2009.

She is honoured to represent her school, the Bombay International School, which she led as Head Girl and Captain, as part of the Lester B. Pearson Scholars cohort.

Auret Murima

Al Nur School
Zimbabwean student in Botswana

University of Toronto Mississauga, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics

“A math-fanatic at heart, I’m logical by nature. I like to analyse things in a systematic manner—eliminating variables and playing around with different elements. I’ve achieved a lot academically, but my proudest achievement is definitely the Top in The Country Award for Cambridge AS Level Computer Science back in 2019. I couldn’t believe the fact that I had achieved the highest mark in an international exam written by hundreds of other competitive students within the country. The award made me realise that I can achieve a lot more than I gave myself credit. Ever since then, I’ve been an even more ambitious person—not just in academics—but in life in general. I’m ambitious to meet new people, make new friends, develop my character, become more outgoing and become a more likeable person. I’m ambitious entrepreneurially, as I’ve been venturing into different forms of business and evaluating what’s best for me. I like to go out of my comfort zone, explore new dimensions and hunt in novel territory my being has never been exposed to. I believe that by seeking new experiences not yet experienced, I can explore the different adventures that are in store for me in the present realm of existence—and I can transcend the boundaries of limitation that have been placed upon me by society. Life has so much more, and my journey is to tread through the paths of that so much more, and become a better version me. That’s my goal—to become the best version of me that I can be—academically, and in everything else.”

Nurzhan Mussabekov

Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Physics and Mathematics of Almaty

University of Toronto Mississauga, Commerce

“Hi! My name is Nurzhan Mussabekov and I’m graduating from Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Physics and Mathematics in Almaty, Kazakhstan. I always was curious about business and commerce. In 2018, my friend and I started our first social entrepreneurship project called “Nautica School” to create a community of like-minded individuals and help high-school students develop their soft-skills. We had roughly $50 to invest and eventually, we managed to help more than 100 peers master their soft-skills. Last summer, within the Stanford Honors Academy program, I was a team leader of a project aimed at increasing financial literacy among socially vulnerable groups in Kazakhstan. I love to discuss increasing the awareness of the financial literacy of Kazakhstan while I struggle to resist overspending when it comes to food. Food is my Achilles’ heel. Perhaps this is the subconscious reason why I am so dedicated to solving the financial literacy problem in the region.

“Beyond my passion for social entrepreneurship, I am also enthusiastic about the financial industry. Last summer I completed my first internship at KPMG Tax & Advisory Kazakhstan, where I was willing to perform any task to be maximally exposed to the industry experience. Performing both technical and creative tasks, I improved my critical thinking (as every day brought different challenges), and collaboration skills (working and being mentored by the elder professionals). Most importantly, I solidified the importance of striving for continual improvement, which is the company’s DNA.

“I believe that I’m a good connector. I believe in the power of people. I delve into different activities, both inside and outside of the school, as I was president of the Student Council. One of the ways I reach out to people is through my beloved hobby—soccer. I often organize friendly matches, where I can get acquainted with individuals from different backgrounds. For me, the soccer pitch is a middle ground, which unites experienced professionals and those who are just at the beginning of their path.

“I’m thrilled and honored to become a part of the University of Toronto’s large family as a Lester B Pearson Scholar.”

Manuchekhr Maksudzhonovich Nabiev

Presidential School for Gifted Students

University of Toronto Mississauga, Commerce

‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.’ (Steve Jobs)

“Hello! I am Manuchekhr Nabiev from Tajikistan. From all of my childhood memories, I remember only one activity that excited me most: building up my jigsaw puzzle. This puzzle had 2500 pieces and every time I tried to piece it together, it took me four and a half hours of concentration and commitment, which was difficult, yet a fun challenge to face. Putting different pieces together to get the whole picture gave an emotional fulfillment to a curious little boy. Overcoming this challenge led me to understand the concept that different people regardless of their nationalities, cultures, races and religious beliefs can come together and build a strong community to make an impact. Not unlike the puzzle, University of Toronto seems to be an institution where all different people come together to form a beautiful university of diversity. I see U of T as a necessary piece to fulfill my future life goals while having a connection to my childhood.

“I am sincerely grateful for being selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar. This life-changing opportunity makes me even more responsible for accomplishing my mission of taking part in solving a global environmental problem—climate change—through innovation, collaboration, and cooperation. The fact that my success starts the second I start giving back to my community creates a burning desire within me to contribute positively to the global community.

“I would like to sincerely thank everyone for this amazing opportunity and I cannot wait to start a new chapter of my life at the University of Toronto.”

Khushil Nimesh Nagda

Oshwal Academy Nairobi – Senior School

Faculty of Arts & Science, Woodsworth College, Computer Science

“Hi! My name is Khushil and I am from Nairobi, Kenya. I am incredibly honored to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship.

“My vision is to design, build, and implement technological systems that will solve problems and improve people’s welfare in my country. I can often be found experimenting with Arduino micro-controllers and building cool devices with them. Studying Computer Science at the University of Toronto will not only bring me a step closer to achieving my goal but will also give me the opportunity to collaborate, learn and build friendships with talented students from all walks of life.

“In my free time, I love playing piano and drums and I have dabbled in music production. My passion lies in making things and that has been the driving force behind my interests. I look forward to exploring Toronto and embracing what it has to offer.”


Ana Laura Noda Gonzalez

Centro Universitario Anglo Mexicano Preparatoria

Faculty of Arts & Science, Woodsworth College, Life Sciences


“Hello! My name is Ana Laura Noda. I was born in Cuba and grew up in the beautiful city of Cancun, México. I am an avid learner with a great passion for science, especially chemistry and biology. I have developed independent research projects including one on skin cancer, represented my state in the National Chemistry Olympiad, and have been actively involved in my community through volunteering. In 2017, I joined the Power of a Nickel organization and have participated in their medical missions in México since then. I currently lead and coordinate the translation team for the missions.

“I am also passionate about human rights and social issues. I love debate and public speaking and have participated in several Model United Nations conferences, both as moderator and delegate. I also find joy in singing and drawing.

“Words cannot describe how honoured and grateful I am for being chosen as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar. I truly appreciate the immense opportunity that this award offers me. I aim to become a physician-scientist and there would be no better place for me to start that journey than the University of Toronto.”

Ifunanya Marybeth Nwankwo

Emerald High School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Psychological and Health Sciences

“Hi! My name is Ifunanya Nwankwo.

“I was born in Nigeria and nurtured from a family with a passionate culture of hard work, resilience, determination and discipline.  I love basketball, art, learning new things, meeting people and public speaking.  As I start my life-changing journey at the University of Toronto Scarborough, words cannot begin to describe how honored I feel to be listed as one of the Lester B. Pearson Scholars.  I hope to furnish myself with several life skills and educational achievements from this great opportunity given to me.

“After all… ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?’ (Martin Luther King, Jr.)”

Tianne Nadyku Pane

Qatar International School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics

“Hello! My name is Tianne Nadyku Pane and I am a senior attending Qatar International School. I was born in the beautiful island of Batam, Indonesia but I’ve been lucky enough to call Doha my hometown since 2008. Aside from being an amateur programmer, a sucky guitarist and an anime enthusiast, my passions and pursuits span wide and deep. I served as the Secretary-General of THIMUN Qatar 2020, where I was able to represent Qatar Foundation as a Student Ambassador at the Paris Peace Forum, networking in English, Indonesian, French and German. In 2019, I lead a team of 30 seniors in my school to revitalize our MUN culture by orchestrating a conference of our own in three short months, which helped me win the BSME Ed Goodwin Award for Qatar. When I’m not organizing MUN events or reviewing research reports, I like mentoring around school: whether it be paired reading with the year 6s or even teaching the World Scholar’s Cup syllabus to over a hundred students. Sports haven’t been part of my life for a few years now, but I’m also a brown belt in Shorinji Kempo. I was part of the student council, the prom committee and an interesting bunch called the ‘Maths Ambassadors’, where I produced IGCSE guiding materials and tutored math after school.

“Dipping my feet into activities that elicit both entrepreneurial and analytical skills inspired me to carve a path where I can build an arsenal of the most efficient and ethical practices to push every business to be profitable, yet socially impactful through the building blocks of data. I am so thrilled to be given the opportunity to realize my dreams through the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. I can’t wait to call Toronto my new home and I can’t wait to try out maple taffy!”

Priyansh Parakh

Yogiraj Public School

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Computer Engineering 

“Hi, I am Priyansh Parakh from Jodhpur, the Suncity and a blend of traditional and modern architecture, situated in the Western part of India. I just completed my high school from Yogiraj Public School, Kota, India. Being a science fiction geek and having a passion for basic sciences and mathematics since childhood, I am fascinated by modern computer systems and how artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and innovative devices have improved the global quality of life. I was awarded the highly competitive and esteemed National Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana Fellowship for young scientists in Basic Sciences by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

“At school, I have been Head Boy and a member of the Academic Council and also conducted an ‘Innovation and Invention Workshop’ aimed at developing an aptitude to research in secondary schools of the region. I also did a project in school and published a report on “Children at Construction Sites— Overcome the Neglected Challenges, Play Safe and Reduce Morbidity” along with a brochure for all stakeholders in improving health and safety of the children at construction sites. I plan to take this further and want to engage fellow students at college in developing sustainable projects related to improving the health and safety of such children residing or living in dangerous situations.

“At the University of Toronto, I aspire to study computer engineering and get involved with the highest tiers of research in this field. I am very keen to learn the interface between computing technology and medicine so as to translate this into applications and innovations in improving human health. As such, I intend to achieve a post-doctoral status and then engage myself into teaching and research at the best universities around the world.

“I feel highly honoured and privileged upon receiving the very prestigious Lester B. Pearson Scholarship and look forward to joining the excellent academic community at the world-class U of T. This Scholarship has boosted my motivation to excel and continue to chase my dreams to achieve the best of academics at one of the most esteemed and diverse institutions in the vibrant and lively city of Toronto. I am very confident that I will live up to the expectations of all and will make the best efforts to contribute to the innovative, scientific, creative and academic atmosphere of the esteemed U of T community.”

Claire Love Parish

Forest Hills Eastern High School
Michigan, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts & Science, Trinity College, Social Sciences

“Hi! My name is Claire Parish and I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I spend my free time reading, running, listening to music, and trying to get my cat off my computer. I love learning about animals, humans, and the world around us. I volunteer at a local humane society and the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. I also started and am part of my school’s Mock Trial team, and am on our Model UN executive board. As a member of the Episcopal Church, I have been part of youth group events, mission trips, and church governance throughout high school. I am also a long-time participant in the National History Day competition, a five-time national finalist with a focus on political and environmental issues. My most recent project, focusing on Michigan PBB contamination in the 1970s, was published in Michigan History magazine and a local newspaper. I plan to go to law school and hope to work in environmental or animal law, teaching, interpreting, and upholding the laws protecting animals and the environment. The many opportunities and resources at the University of Toronto bring me one step closer to that goal. I am honored to receive the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I am excited to become part of and contribute to the University of Toronto community.”

Narindra Persaud

Saraswati Vidya Niketan School

University of Toronto Mississauga, Life Sciences

“I am Narindra Persaud and I aspire to be in the medical field as a general surgeon. I have been successful at both the CSEC and CAPE Examinations where I was one of the top performers in Guyana. I also pursued environmental science to be better aware of climate change and its global impact on the ecosystems. Belonging to a school that imparts values into its students, I am highly ardent about my role in society and it is my view that giving without expecting is the highest act of virtue. I coordinated the recent blood donation drive at my school where 302 units of blood were obtained and I teach science subjects to children at the local orphanage. I intend to convey the role of leadership in society especially in my field of medicine to ensure adequate health care is accessible for those who are poverty restricted. Honored to be named a Lester B. Pearson Scholar at the University of Toronto, I am patiently awaiting the journey that is to unfold.”

Sapolnach Prompiengchai

Sarala Birla Academy
Thai student in India

University of Toronto Scarborough, Life Sciences (Biological Sciences and Neuroscience)

“Experiencing, learning, and appreciating fascinating cultures during my education in India and backpacking trips across 27 countries allowed me to absorb different traditions, health beliefs, attitudes, and most importantly, music. Collaborating with music therapists at a Thai rehabilitation institute and gaining a ‘real feel’ of the medical profession by volunteering at Ghanaian and Thai hospitals sparked my interest towards medicine and allowed myself to holistically develop as a challenger and a creative person who seeks to learn by grabbing any opportunity available. Performing piano recitals across various platforms and coming across the book ‘Musicophilia’ by Dr. Oliver Sacks inspired me to pursue research in the healing power of music that is so diverse yet universal in order to bring a transformation into people’s lives.

“Achieving the ‘Top in the World’ in IGCSE Additional Mathematics motivated me to utilize advanced statistics to conduct the structural equation modeling (SEM) to understand the complex interrelationship and path analysis among variables in neuroscience, psychology, and music. I hope to use the problem-solving and teamwork skills that I have gained as a Cultural Vice-Captain in my school to touch the lives of countless patients locally, nationally, and internationally. I believe collaboration and pooling of diverse ideas is crucial to conducting impactful researches for a challenging century.

“All in all, I am honored to be a Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship recipient. I am eager to use this opportunity to unlock the brain with musical keys and accelerate scientific progress as a physician-scientist. I would like to inspire synergistic efforts by interdisciplinary researchers to provide patients with better access to the real power of music in healing diseases. I also firmly believe that utilizing our creativity to collaboratively solve novel problems and interacting with contemporary researchers globally would help us to revolutionize the world.”


Libertad Kasandra Rojas

American Cooperative School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Physical and Environmental Sciences

“Hi! I am Libertad Rojas, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I grew up rolling in the grass and playing in the rain of my hometown, Santa Cruz de la Sierra. This exposure to nature led me to have a deep curiosity for science, which years later allowed me to find my passion for astrophysics. I am simply inspired by the fact that there is still so much left to discover about our universe.

“Today, I live in La Paz, which is known as ‘Ciudad Maravilla’ in Bolivia, a city surrounded by astonishing landscapes and with the best gastronomic experiences. I am currently finishing my senior year at the American Cooperative School of La Paz. A place that allowed me to discover my passion for singing and being a goalkeeper.

“I will always be grateful to all my family, friends, and teachers who helped me become who I am today.

“I cannot begin to describe how honored and thankful I am to have been given the opportunity to go to the University of Toronto and been awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. This is more than I have ever dreamed of.”

Krish Sanjiv Sanghvi

Aditya Birla World Academy

Faculty of Arts & Science, Woodsworth College, Rotman Commerce

“”Hello! My name is Krish Sanghvi and I am from Mumbai, India. At the University of Toronto, I plan on exploring the business world by synergizing my interests in finance, international relations, and innovation. Moreover, I am interested in the intersection between business and social improvement, and therefore aspire to participate in the discipline of impact investing.

“Beyond academics, I enjoy debating, playing football, and listening to music. I am a huge Manchester United fan and am always ready to have a football discussion. With the driven and multicultural student body at U of T, I aim to get involved in different clubs and student associations.

“I am honored to be a Lester B. Pearson scholar and look forward to my experience over the next four years!”

Aly Muhammad Rafiq Sayani

Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet
United Kingdom

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“Hi! My name is Aly Sayani. I am extremely honoured and grateful to be a recipient of the Lester B Pearson International Scholarship this year. Born in Karachi and raised in cosmopolitan London, I look forward to continuing to experience a wide range of beautiful and vibrant cultures, traditions and communities in the multicultural city of Toronto. I believe humanity has a clear responsibility to ensure no person lives without access to basic needs, and that in order for us to thrive we must live sustainably.

“This belief led me to carry out an Extended Project Qualification, evaluating rural poverty reduction methods in Pakistan, which taught me how necessary it is to tackle complex contemporary problems through a multi-faceted lens. This belief also helped stem my interest in helping others, whether it be through running events within my Ismaili community for the youth and seniors, teaching English and maths at my local refugee support centre, or helping organise book drives within my school. My experiences have taught me the importance of being empathetic, understanding and compassionate, but also motivated to make a positive impact on whomever we meet, and I am excited to continue helping others and learn how I can help tackle problems such as poverty, inequality and climate change through my time at U of T. “

‘Our responsibility is to improve the quality of life where that quality is unsatisfactory … and respond to diversity not only at home, but on a global basis’ (His Highness the Aga Khan)

Anais Batebe Shalita

Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa
Ugandan student in Kenya

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Arts: Humanities, Social Sciences

“I am honored to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship. My academic interests lie within the realms of legal and justice studies, pre and post-colonial African literature and history, and Philosophy Academia. Although I was born in Uganda, my family is of Rwandan origin. I have lived in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; five culturally distinctive countries located in East and Central Africa.

“I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to study law at the Immerse Summer Educational Program at Cambridge University, where I not only broadened my understanding of the discipline of law but interacted with Individuals from across the globe, which demonstrated to me the strength of human inter-relatedness. I devoted 7 years in high school to the Voices for Change choral group at my school where I participated in and organized community service events such as food drives. I grew cognizant of the profound presence of cultural cohesion within my community and began to question who we are in the grand scheme of things, and what our place is as mere specks in the much greater universe. My numerous academic interests are tied together by the composite discipline of philosophy, which I intend to pursue, for the endless pursuit of the nature of knowledge gives us an understanding of our place in this complex universe.

“In our insignificance, there is significance, with the memories we make and above all, what we ought to give back to the world around us. I am beyond honored to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I do look forward to embarking on a new journey at the University of Toronto.”


Isha Dinesh Sharma

Symbiosis International School

Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design, Architectural Studies

‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.’ (Lao Tzu)

“Hello! I am Isha Sharma from India, and the above saying forms the core of my philosophy in life. One must grow from failure and learn from success. This has led me to achieve the highest academic excellence award for the past five years. While pursuing architecture, I plan to live my interests in writing, sketching and creating.

“Architecture, to me, is the art of transforming abstract thoughts into concrete manifestations! I believe it has the power to dissolve the massive development disparities that exist today. I want to make sustainability a profitable possibility even for developing countries that often lack vital funds for infrastructure. Thus, I aim to plan future cities that focus on liveability, dynamism and control of the interaction between their elements.

“To capitalise this, I have taken part in the national government’s sanitation awareness campaign ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’, which involved constructing a toilet amid a remote village. I have also mathematically redesigned a bridge in a flood-prone area in my state using recyclable materials. Through interviewing the local town planning and cleaning team, I understood issues related to urban planning and sustainable growth. Additionally, I interned at a local architecture firm, self-educated myself on AutoCAD, fusion 360 and ‘future cities’ through courses designed by the National University of Singapore and ETH Zurich. These activities have deepened my understanding and I cannot wait to explore the world of architecture through University of Toronto’s multi-dimensional learning experience that opens minds and provides opportunities to create, solve, and think beyond. The dreams that I envisioned for my future will actualise through the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I am profoundly honoured to receive it!”

Diana Virgovičová

Gymnázium Pezinok

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Computer Engineering

“My name is Diana. I am a curious girl coming from a small mountainous Slovak village in the middle of nowhere, but it doesn’t stop me from having enormous dreams. My passion is problem-solving and tutoring disadvantaged kids. In my free time, I do rock climbing, play the violin, and travel the world. I have a great determination to take action when I see something that is not right. When I experienced first-hand the impoverished state of the aquatic environment in some Asian countries, and the profound effect this was having on people, I moved to act. I became fascinated by quantum chemistry and fundamental science. By using quantum chemistry software, I discovered a novel molecule of photocatalyst that can clean contaminated water after absorbing the wavelengths of visible light. With this project, I won the Diploma of Excellence at the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2019. My big dream is to clean polluted rivers in the world and decrease the number of communities that don’t have access to clean drinking water.

“I want to find solutions for people, especially young girls, who spend hours collecting water instead of receiving the education which everybody deserves.

“I learned that the most crucial aspect of achieving our goals is never to give up, and we are never too young to make a difference. After four years of attempts and fails, I proved a Fermat’s Last Theorem in a way that also a high school student can understand, and I won the national finals in the science fair for this project.

“I also have a great interest in business and teamwork. I am a technical co-founder of the company Metripolis. My three friends and I are building a predictive pricing platform that will help small and midsized companies to fight in the data jungle.

“The computer engineering Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto will help me to develop fundamental software skills necessary for the further development of my water project. With the help of computer engineering and all the incredible people I will meet in the U of T, I want to solve some of the most challenging global problems. I am incredibly honored to have received the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I cannot wait to join the diverse community of Toronto.”