Meet the 2021 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 2021 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 pearson.scholarship@utoronto.ca 


Image of Rebeca Tamara Alarcón DelgadoRebeca Tamara Alarcón Delgado

Lord Byron School
Peru

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Rotman Commerce

“Hello! My name is Rebeca Alarcón, and I come from Lima, Peru.

“My academic pursuits’ driving force has always been my earnest desire to find solutions to socioeconomic problems; therefore, I have developed a deep passion for business studies with social impact.

“Participating in activities that developed my entrepreneurial skills inspired me to follow my genuine passion for helping people, not just through words, but with effective action. That is why as soon as I became interested in social impact through an entrepreneurial lens, I gained leadership positions and founded enterprises. With ‘Somnium’, I entered the International Junior Achievement Company of the Year competition in the Dominican Republic, and ranked as one of the best companies in Latin America. My passion for creating a positive impact, together with my company’s success, led me to be personally invited to give talks about my experience on some of the world’s most prominent youth-serving NGOs. I also love volunteering and teaching which I have had the opportunity to do through ‘Kelka’,  non-profit dedicated to giving virtual classes to children from all over Peru, which I help run as Executive Director.

“I am grateful to God, my family, teachers, and friends for supporting me. Also, I am very thankful to the University of Toronto for giving me this opportunity. I am honoured and humbled to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson scholar, and cannot wait to join a community of young minds that will be used as agents of change to construct a better future.”


Image of Zahra Akil AllidinaZahra Akil Allidina

Oakland Mills High School
Kenyan student in Maryland, U.S.A.

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

“Hi! My name is Zahra Akil Allidina. I was born in Mombasa, Kenya, with roots in India, and studied in the United States. I am an effortless composition of various cultures and heritages. If I am not taking a walk in the great outdoors or binging a show on Netflix, then you will find me learning a new language or chasing sunsets.

“I have had the privilege of advocating for my community through serving as an appointed Executive Board member on the Maryland Youth Advisory Council, co-founding the Student Voice Council, organizing interfaith activities, and volunteering at various organizations. I aspire to be of service to humanity by reducing social inequities and economic instability and by bringing about reform through sustainable development. I am eager to innovate and create systems that encourage socially responsible behaviors and reinforce ethical values in business. At the University of Toronto, I hope to enhance my leadership skills, create dialogue, and relentlessly seek opportunities to learn through the Co-Op program.

“I am truly humbled to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. This scholarship plays an instrumental role in allowing me to realize my dreams. I look forward to joining the Class of 2025 at the University of Toronto!”


Image of Jonathan Divine AngubuaJonathan Divine Angubua

Word of Life International School
Uganda

University of Toronto Mississauga, Humanities

“Hello! My name is Divine, and I am delighted to join this year’s cohort of Pearson Scholars. I am an aspiring lawyer whose passions lie within political science, history, economics, and philosophy. My interdisciplinary interests were largely influenced by the human rights conditions or lack thereof within my country, Uganda, especially in regards to ethnic and sexual minorities as well as the libertarian left.  Here, my dedication to liberty, freedom, and respect for the moral individual was radicalised. Leading my student council, writing club, and being a voracious reader in my free time fostered in me a desire for democracy as well as a diversity of ideas and cultures, pluralism and egalitarianism. From these came my vision for the world that I want to live in, the world that I want to help create with the vast opportunities that this scholarship is already availing to me. In the long term, I hope to become a resounding voice on the world stage within the domain of human rights and academia, continually working to secure the courts for the honest populace and building societies’ capacities for defense against their vices.”


Image of Diego Arreola Fernández

Diego Arreola Fernández

Colegio CEYCA
México

Faculty of Arts and Science, St. Michael’s College, Social Sciences

“I use my voice to shape the change I wish to see in the world!

“From hosting virtual workshops with kids from New Delhi, organizing an Ocean Conservation Summit for East African youth, and giving lectures to high school students from California; to speaking alongside Bill Gates at GreenBiz 21, and participating at the Global Youth Climate Challenges, hosted by the Republic of Korea’s National Council on Climate and Air Quality, I’ve had the honor of motivating people to adopt a conscious mindset and work altogether to restore our planet’s health. 

“As a member of the Ocean Heroes Network, for almost 2 years I have mentored more than 400 young people from around the globe on creating local campaigns to tackle plastic pollution in their communities.

“As Vice President of ‘Talleres de Comunicación Fernández Audiffred’, a family enterprise, I have helped educate kids, teenagers, and adults on effective communication skills and to improve at public speaking for over 6 years.

“Moreover, as founder and president of Green Speaking, I have been able to use a combination of science and impactful communication to educate young people on intersectional environmentalism; forming the next generation of social and environmental-positive leaders!

“I am an educator, climate-activist, and international speaker determined to leave a huge, positive mark on the world.

“I’m truly excited to expand my horizon and opportunities at the University of Toronto, to develop a broader and more comprehensive approach on my mission to assure climate, social, and economic justice for all.”


Image of Karen Susana BarrientosKaren Susana Barrientos

American School of Guatemala
Guatemala

University of Toronto Mississauga, Management

“Hi! My name is Karen and I am honored to be part of the University of Toronto’s class of 2025! I come from Guatemala, a country rich in culture and warm weather year round. Ever since I was a little girl I have enjoyed reading. Although I love reading about mostly any genre, I have to say fantasy books have a soft spot in my heart. I am also a ‘people person’ as I like to engage in any type of conversation, even with people I don’t really know. As a result, I am looking forward to pursuing a career in both journalism and business, as I want to keep doing what I love most while learning strategies to succeed in the constantly changing world of today. At U of T I will be able to continue developing my creativity and problem solving skills which I have acquired through the program called Destination Imagination, a worldwide organization in which I have competed countless times and have won first and second place with my team ‘The Aguaguates’. Being a Girl Scout has helped me widen my horizons and has inspired me to strive to make a positive change in my country. I am more than grateful for the opportunity that I have been offered and extremely thrilled to begin my journey here!”


Image of Selen BayramSelen Bayram

Izmir Bahçeşehir College 50th Year Science & Technology High School
Turkey

Faculty of Arts and Science, University College, Life Sciences

“Hello! I’m Selen Bayram, an 18-year-old STEAM enthusiast who seeks innovative methods to improve her community and to make a remarkable change in the world. 

“I was born and raised in Izmir, one of the most multicultural cities in Turkey. Surrounded by diversity, I had the opportunity to widen my perspective on a variety of fields, from the natural sciences to humanities and arts. Throughout high school, I managed to deepen my knowledge of these areas, as well as discovering new passions to which I devoted my time and effort.

“In 2017, I joined a robotics club where I fostered my communication and leadership skills. Collaborating with my teammates, I started impactful social responsibility projects, volunteered at numerous organizations, and participated in international robotics tournaments.

“Beyond robotics, I am absolutely fascinated by the applications of neurobiology. After shadowing a neurosurgeon and studying advanced biology for Olympiads, I am positive that I found my true inspiration. Thus, my objective is to become a physician-scientist who is committed to enhancing human life. Studying neurodegenerative diseases and integrating robotics & AI technologies into neuroscience research, I hope to contribute to building a healthier and more sustainable future.

“In my free time, I play volleyball, make experimental art, read fiction, play the violin, and compose poetry. I also enjoy traveling around the world, so I can’t wait to be at my next destination—Canada!

“It is my utmost honor to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar. I feel beyond excited to pursue my studies at the University of Toronto and fulfill my aspirations as part of its inspiring and dynamic community.”


Image of Valentina Elena Mercedes Bravo QuispeValentina Elena Mercedes Bravo Quispe

Colegio Italiano Antonio Raimondi
Peru

University of Toronto Mississauga, Life Sciences

“¡Hola! My name is Valentina Bravo Quispe. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru, specifically in a household where playing board games is dangerous because of how competitive my family can be. As a result, I grew up as a self-demanding person.

“In school, I was that one student excited to learn about every single new topic and was willing to study each line of the fat textbooks. That eventually led me to graduate high school with a final score of 100/100 with distinction.

“However, I knew my ambition belonged beyond the walls of my school. I forged partnerships with the Peruvian Ministry of Education and elementary schools in pursuit of contributing to the eradication of racism through creative writing. My love for children led me to work as a guide for infants, teaching them how to develop their soft skills. Seeking to destigmatize mental health disorders, I volunteer in an NGO where my duty is to spread awareness through informative content.

“Despite my passion for education, I realized my raison d’être when traveling within my country, where I witnessed great disparities in the healthcare system. Those experiences strongly reinforced my predilection to follow a career in life science and political science, which I am convinced will provide me with the tools necessary to build a humane and considerate healthcare system for the unrepresented, not only in Peru, but around the globe.

“I am extremely grateful that the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship grants me the opportunity to study at the University of Toronto, where I will be able to sit at the table with future world leaders. I am honored to be one of them.”


Image of Chenika Catherin BukesChenika Catherin Bukes

American International School of Johannesburg
South Africa

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Computer Science

“Hello! My name is Chenika, and I am from Johannesburg, South Africa. I am so excited to be joining the driven, collaborative, and pioneering U of T community! I graduated from the American International School in Johannesburg and will be studying computer science at U of T.

“Computer science feeds my curiosity and provides me with the tools I need to one day develop ground-breaking technologies for the common good. The blockchain, artificial intelligence, and data science are all such fascinating subjects and I cannot wait to find my niche at U of T’s incredible computer science department.

“Throughout high school I was an active leader of many activities. I loved playing the piano, and training with my varsity swim team and national karate team. My most rewarding memories from high school came from my work as president of my school’s Service Learning Council and leader of the Red Cross service, and ‘Iterele Zenzele Science’ service, teaching science to local high schoolers.

“Ultimately, I want my work as a computer scientist to target bettering the lives of people across the world through technological advancement. I cannot wait to dive head first into the field and explore the diverse possibilities.

“For my path, U of T is the perfect start!”


Image of Vimbainashe Chimhande

Vimbainashe Chimhande

Goldridge College
Zimbabwe

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Life Sciences

“Hello! My name is Vimbainashe Chimhande. I was born and raised in the beautiful African country of Zimbabwe. I’m beyond thrilled to become a Pearson scholar. For me, versatility is the spice of life! Outside the academic classroom, I read a lot, debate, and learn as much as possible about music. I love learning and growing. That desire to learn helped me obtain Top in the Country awards for IGCSE Business Studies and AS Global Perspectives and Research. Most people consider growing up in Africa as a disadvantage; I see it as an opportunity to step-up, be a problem solver and do something worthwhile. The greatest inventions and discoveries known to humanity were a result of someone trying to solve a problem. The COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed my belief that healthcare should never be sidelined. I hope to play a role in boosting the quality of healthcare in Africa. My dream is to one day live in an Africa where excellent healthcare is not a luxury product. I’m tremendously grateful and excited that I get to be part of the UTSC community!”


Image of Jaiditya Dev

Jaiditya Dev

Mayoor School, Noida
India

University of Toronto Mississauga, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics

“Hello! I am Jaiditya Dev from India. I am extremely honored and grateful to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship this year.

“I was born in a close-knit, middle-class family. My father’s job took me to places spread across the vastness of India. This travel and frequent change in geography, demography, and society, taught acceptability and adaptability, thereby facilitating my development as an individual. From being the Captain of the newly formed Robotics team in a modest school in Central India to the President of Student’s Council managing 30 odd councils, life brought in new learnings and challenges. I have consistently carried forward through difficult stretches with restraint and boldness. I accept that difficult stretches don’t last, yet extreme individuals do. My spirits didn’t deflect in any event, during the pandemic too, wherein I composed research papers on my enthusiasm for investigating the conceivable collaboration between computer science and clinical science.

“Every one of these encounters has made my conviction more grounded that an expectation in heart, assurance as a top priority, and determination in soul is the thing that makes you cross the end goal. Intending to pursue computer science, I wish to research areas like data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computational genomics. I wish to assist in dealing with complex datasets, by developing core machine learning techniques, particularly in the field of biomedical sciences. For me, pursuing a passion for intangible goals brings peace and contentment way beyond monetary benefits.

“Yet again, I am honored to be awarded the prestigious Lester B. Pearson scholarship and looking forward to immerse myself in the ambiance and exuberance of UTM!”


Image of Harvey Ronan Donnelly

Harvey Ronan Donnelly

Wellington College Belfast
United Kingdom

Faculty of Arts & Science, Trinity College, Computer Sciences

“Hello! My name is Harvey Donnelly and I am from the incredible city of Belfast in the North of Ireland. All my life I have been obsessed with questions about the nature of our universe, consciousness, and the limits of knowledge. My academic passions therefore belong to the beautiful cross-section between the fields of theoretical computer science and analytic philosophy, with a particular interest in artificial intelligence systems. Focusing on issues of global sustainability, I have won several national and regional awards for scientific research projects over the years. At the age of sixteen, I was selected for a two-month software engineering internship at the Rakuten Blockchain Lab where I was responsible for leading the early development of a project which has since become one of the research division’s main platforms. I also cofounded and led a social enterprise dedicated to organising social action initiatives and promoting compostable packaging for local businesses. After winning the Rotary International Youth Leadership Development competition, I represented Ireland by speaking centre-stage in the European Parliament chamber about my views on addressing the climate crisis. I am deeply humbled and thrilled to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship and I am excited to join the vibrant U of T community this fall.”


Image of Gurra Efendija

Gurra Efendija

Braeburn Garden Estate Secondary School
Kosovar student in Kenya

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

“Hello! My name is Gurra Efendija. I was born in Pristina, Kosovo; however, I moved to Nairobi, Kenya when I was just five years old. I am honoured and grateful to be able to call both of these countries home.

“My academic objective, to attend the University of Toronto’s medical school in order to pursue a career in cardiothoracic surgery, was elicited by my potent passion for biochemistry; specifically, my fascination with the complexity of the human body.

“Beyond the realms of academia, I enjoy immersing myself in co-curricular activities, partaking in community service, playing sports, and even dabbling in the creative arts.

“One of my biggest passions is public speaking. I have been a part of the East Africa Model United Nations (EAMUN) programme for the past eight years, throughout which I have won numerous awards and progressed into different leadership positions. In my current position as the Co-Chair of the First General Assembly for the 39th Annual EAMUN, I have had the privilege of hosting the first virtual EAMUN conferences, training teams of Junior and Senior Chairpersons in preparation for the two conferences, and successfully creating and implementing my own committee: the Historical Decisions Committee.  This committee provides a forum in which delegates can discuss monumental decisions made by influential members of society as well as alternative solutions to those decisions.

“I am exhilarated to have been selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar, and look forward to engulfing myself in this incredible opportunity to learn from inspiring, proficient professors at one of the most prestigious universities, as well as interacting with the melting pot of cultures and myriad perspectives during my time in Toronto.”


Image of Vishweswar Eswaran

Vishweswar Eswaran

GEMS Modern Academy
Indian student in the United Arab Emirates

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering

“If there were three words to link my present-self and ambitious future-self, they would be innovative, inquisitive, and introspective. I am Vishweswar Eswaran, a student from GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai. My goal is to ‘engineer’ feasible solutions to address global hunger while my passion lies in exploring the world of moving electrons. I’m habitual of tinkering – not just with old gadgets but also with the mind. I enjoy questioning myself and exploring the root of reasoning and emotions in me.  As a student of U of T, a place brimming with great thinkers, I am looking to absorb knowledge, create solutions for existing challenges, and emit compassion!”


Image of Saanvi Gupta

Saanvi Gupta

Brightlands School
India

Faculty of Arts and Science, Woodsworth College, Rotman Commerce

“Having lived in cosmopolitan Dubai and the serene valley of Dehradun, India, I am thrilled to add a place as eclectic as Toronto to my list of abodes. A keen interest in deciphering the minutiae of economic systems and finance coupled with my analytical inclination has driven me to pursue a Rotman Commerce bachelor’s degree. At school, I don the cap of Head Girl and debate team Captain, having won numerous accolades at debate, creative writing, and declamation competitions.

“A truly gratifying experience has been working as a volunteer with the Women Empowerment & Child Development Department of the state government. I tutor and mentor underprivileged students, inculcate entrepreneurial spirit in rural women and help market their handcrafted products. This has inspirited my belief in the transformative power of education and I intend to continue working towards enhancing its access at U of T. I also interned with a local branch of the Industrial Development Bank of India where I led a team that was sent to villages in the vicinity of my city to conduct financial inclusion camps under a government scheme.

“Attaining a bachelor’s degree in Kathak, a classical Indian dance form, has helped me embrace my individuality and grow with unlimited possibilities. To unwind, I like to read, idly strum my guitar, and make quirky DIY creations. Being a Pearson Scholar gives me the unparalleled opportunity to step into an environment where each day presents new academic and intellectual challenges.”


Image of Oluwagbotemi Daniel Iseoluwa

Oluwagbotemi Daniel Iseoluwa

Calvary Arrows College
Nigeria

University of Toronto Mississauga, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics

“I am Oluwagbotemi Daniel Iseoluwa. I was brought up in Lagos, Nigeria and recently completed my secondary education at Calvary Arrows College, Gboko, Benue State.

“My central goal in life is to help others as a service to mankind and God. Coupled with my passions for science, I have been motivated to maximize the opportunities I’ve been given as well as to engage in activities that helped develop other students in science and technology. My observation is that those activities are the most fulfilling. In 2020, I joined XploreSTEMi as an instructor and PCB designer. XploreSTEMi is an initiative that seeks to stimulate the interests of students in science and technology with a focus on programming and robotics. Teaching these students and seeing them apply the skills they learn to solve problems in their immediate environment was so exhilarating.

“I was also part of a team that fabricated a Wound VAC machine for a hospital. It was made from local content technology and it had a level of AI. It came out even better than the existing ones at the hospital. Through this I discovered how I could directly impact my environment with programming. This experience, among others, formed my motivation for studying computer science at the University of Toronto.

“Apart from social impact and academics, I am also an avid sportsman. I was on the starting lineup of my school’s basketball team and enjoy playing soccer as well as table tennis. I also enjoy listening to music and playing the piano.

“I feel extremely honoured to be listed among the recipients of the Lester B. Pearson scholarship this year. I hope that I will be further equipped at the University of Toronto with skills that will make me better prepared to change individual lives and perhaps affect the world at large, making it a better place for humanity.”


Image of Benjamin Koshy Jacob

Benjamin Koshy Jacob

International School of Azerbaijan
Indian student in Azerbaijan

University of Toronto Mississauga, Psychology

“Hi, I’m Benji! I’m from India. I was born in Morocco, and grew up in Nigeria and Azerbaijan. My multicultural upbringing has proven to be paramount in engaging with perspectives, building relationships, and fostering an inclusive community. The core of my identity revolves around taking action for the benefit of others. I’ve been humbled in my work with the Afghani, Chechnyan, and Pakistani refugees from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, where I’ve worked hard to enable a safe space for the open sharing of stories and cultures. I’m also passionate about the arts. I believe art reforms by blending imagination and reality to compel conversations, stir emotions, and advocate for change. This has been evident between my Studio X art club, online benefit concerts, and my art therapy sessions at the Rehabilitation Center for Children with Down Syndrome. My myriad of interests funnels to understanding and helping others, and that’s why I intend to study psychology.

“I am beyond honoured to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I know the opportunities at the University of Toronto will hone the potency of my nexus of impact. I take it as my responsibility to make the most out of this opportunity and to give back to my communities.”


Image of Shakura Kabir

Shakura Kabir

Partap World School
India

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

“A little bit of charisma, a little bit of impatience, a little bit of a soft heart, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Add to this mix the urge to give back to society via civic engagement. Garnish it with the (apparently far-fetched, but what are we without dreams?) desire to make the next breakthrough discovery. That is how I would describe myself.

“I am passionate about leadership and fruitful debates, and I love finding fresh perspectives on commonplace ideas. My academic interest lies in the confluence of clinical psychology and cognitive-behavioral psychology. This ties to my long-term objective of getting into research and propounding the next breakthrough theory to decode the biggest marvel of nature – man. My intention is to bring together scientific and social aspects of psychology so that the subject finds advanced educational, occupational, and clinical applications. I can’t wait to realize my dreams at the University of Toronto!”


Image of Napacha Karonsontawong

Napacha Karonsontawong

Calgary Christian High School
Thai student in Alberta, Canada

Faculty of Arts and Science, University College, Life Sciences

“Greetings! My name is Napacha Karonsontawong, also known as ‘Hymn’. I grew up in the heart of two countries, Thailand and Indonesia, both of which have enriched my curiosity to explore more of humanity both macroscopically, through the art of human connection and culture, as well as microscopically, through the life sciences that connect us all. Moving to Canada, I was able to see the world in a different light as one global community; I had the pleasure of taking part in shaping Alberta’s educational policies as a member of the Alberta Government’s Minister’s Youth Council where I was able to integrate my cross-cultural identity. By pursuing life sciences with an interest in immunology, I aim to illuminate a new sense of hope for the world amidst divide and indifference, co-creating new knowledge, and building on innovative strategies, especially in areas impacted by natural disasters and disease.

“Alongside my academic pursuits, I delight in the thrill of tennis as well as the joy of practicing the flute and exploring different forms of music, literature, fine arts, and sometimes contemplatively scrolling through fun health facts online.

“I am beyond grateful and enthusiastic to start my journey at the University of Toronto as a Pearson Scholar and to indulge in the community that fosters individual and collective growth!”


Image of Saniya Karwa

Saniya Karwa

American High School, Fremont
Indian student in California, U.S.A.

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Engineering Science

“Hello! I’m Saniya, and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mathematics has always been a core part of my identity and community, for as far back as I remember, joining clubs and math teams since elementary school. It was the closeness of our small team of math enthusiasts that inspired me to continue pursuing competitive mathematics, and I eventually became a three-time American Invitational Mathematics Examination qualifier. As my high school’s math club’s president, when I learned that my former middle school’s math team had disappeared, I was hit on a personal level. I decided immediately to build the team, conquering the doubts of teachers and administrators, bringing a new math community to the middle school students. I continued to bring together the young math enthusiasts in my community through an online platform I founded, and brought advanced math to younger students.

“Aside from these mathematical communities, I discovered my passion for the intersection of health and AI as I did research with UCSF professionals and independently to predict hospital-related conditions. At the University of Toronto, I hope to learn engineering and computer science skills to innovate technology in the field of healthcare to help save lives. I’m honored to have received the Lester B. Pearson scholarship, and I am excited for the opportunities ahead!”


Image of Mathira Kawser

Mathira Kawser

Mastermind English Medium School
Bangladesh

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“Hi! I am Mathira Kawser, from Bangladesh. At U of T, I wish to study economics to decipher the art of policy-making. A primary reason behind this decision was that I always saw women around me face immense exploitation, a prominent cause for it was financial dependence on partners or parents. The paradox here is that their dependence resulted from their families not permitting them to work in the first place. Therefore, I decided to become a policymaker so that I can join government institutions, design policies to empower women, and enable them to offset their dependence through financial liberation.

“Currently, I love to spend most of my time furthering my feminist activism and teaching economics to young females and non-cis males. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoy dancing and debating! Both of these help me better express my views and articulate my thoughts.

“I am utterly exhilarated and grateful for receiving the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship. I hope to utilize the boundless opportunities that U of T will offer me and make my dream of an equal world a reality someday.”


Image of San Jet Kok

San Jet Kok

Tenby International School Ipoh
Malaysia

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

“Hi! I’m San Jet, and I come from the small, quaint city of Ipoh, Malaysia. Last year, I completed my A-levels at Tenby Schools Ipoh, where I was the Head Boy and member of the student leadership council. As an avid MUN-er, I directed my school’s inaugural Model UN conference and a workshop to cultivate an interest in MUN for eager students in my city. I am also particularly passionate about supporting the community I live in, having worked on a project to build sustainable housing for the Orang Asli people of Malaysia as well as feeding over 350 of the marginalized affected by the pandemic through food drives. Working with the marginalized community and learning about their struggles has cemented my goal in exploring socio-economic policies with a focus on South-East Asian nations alongside the study of sustainable policy development. Outside of my academic and voluntary work, I enjoy hiking, swimming and a good game of badminton.

“I am so honored and thankful to have been awarded this opportunity, and I look forward to being immersed in the diverse cultures and learning fresh perspectives on the world at the University of Toronto while sharing my own!”


Image of Amber Kwok

Amber Kwok

Renaissance College
Hong Kong

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

“Hey! I’m Amber and I’m an IB student at Renaissance College, Hong Kong, where I’ve lived for the majority of my life. If I had to pick one, the most important thing I’m looking forward to at UofT is growing my identity as an artist.  I love design in all its forms – graphic, industrial, architectural – and books, too, because the act of reading is essentially the appreciation of how art makes us feel.  Traditionally, I work in oil, ink, and my favourite, woodblock printmaking. There is something about physically touching and cutting into your work that feels cathartic and necessary. One of my side projects is to set up a shop!

“I hope to pursue arts in architectural studies because I think that design and working to understand and solve client problems has as much to do with helping others as it does with pushing yourself to grow, to become more empathetic, and kind.

“When I’m not overthinking everything that I do, I love weight training, eating greek yoghurt, running, eating granola, and Taylor Swift.”


Image of Asawin Leeanantsaksiri

Asawin Leeanantsaksiri

Khonkaenwittayayon School English Program
Thailand

Faculty of Arts and Science, Woodsworth College, Rotman Commerce

“Hello! My name is Asawin Leeanantsaksiri, but I go by Sugus. I am from Khon Kaen, Thailand, a province in the northeastern region of the country. I am an avid traveler who loves learning about different cultures and meeting people from all corners of the world. My favorite part of traveling is when I get to try the local dishes. Whether it is America’s hottest buffalo wings or Thai fried bugs, I love to try them all to have the experience.

“Having studied abroad and completed a year-long exchange program in the United States of America, I have witnessed the detrimental effects that inequality places on this world. Unfortunately, with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the discrepancy between social classes in Thailand and other developing countries is more evident. I have helped relieve the situation by volunteering for underprivileged children with cancer and founding a couple of community service projects. Besides my passion for equality, I have always been intrigued by the multifaceted, ever-changing business world. I am particularly excited to explore and deeply understand the diverse array of business disciplines through Rotman Commerce’s multicultural, inclusive, and rigorous learning experience. I strongly believe that integrating my passion for equality with my interest in the business industry will assist me in becoming a social entrepreneur who can turn his business venture into a positive driving force in the world.

“Lastly, I am immensely humbled and honored to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship, and I am thrilled to join the class of 2025! Words cannot express how grateful I am for this amazing opportunity, and I look forward to utilizing this incredible platform to continue giving back to the community.”


Image of Haris Malik

Haris Malik

Roots Ivy International School, River View Campus
Pakistan

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Computer Science

“An auto enthusiast, a social activist, a sports fanatic or a studious person? Well, a blend of all I guess.

“Hello, everyone! I am Haris Malik from Islamabad, Pakistan. To begin with, it is of great honor to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Award. At the University of Toronto, I intend to major in computer science, a field that I find incredibly intriguing and practical. An academic background of seven A-Level subjects with an AICE Diploma is a clear testimony of my interest in interdisciplinary fields, henceforth, I will be more than happy to explore, experience, and experiment in different areas of study, while at college.

“Aside from my academic interests, I have been deeply involved in various social causes to alleviate the miseries and improve the situation of my fellow countrymen. Therefore, I stand as the founder and president of Behtar Pakistan Movement, comprising of high school and college students, who work in collaboration with the local prison administration for the welfare of the juvenile prisoners.

“Furthermore, I consider myself to be a passionate cricketer and follower, having represented my former hometown, Abbottabad, on different cricketing tournaments and events. Similarly, Taekwondo has always been amongst my favorite physical sports and becoming the national Taekwondo Champion is an achievement of which I am highly proud.

“This fall, I look forward to meeting people representing all parts of the world and expanding my knowledge about the world beyond my region. Whether we are working on a coding project after school or hosting a charitable fundraiser on campus, I hope that you will all enjoy my company and I yours.”


Image of Annika Beate Nilsson

Annika Beate Nilsson

Oconee County High School
Georgia, U.S.A.

Faculty of Arts and Science, University College, Life Sciences

“Hello! My name is Annika Beate Nilsson, and I’m from Watkinsville, Georgia. Attending the University of Toronto has been my dream for years, so I’m thrilled to be a Pearson Scholar! In high school, I threw my energy into marching band, taekwondo, academic teams, languages, and student tutoring. I’ve also edited videos for the better part of a decade, and I’m passionate about using my connections in the editing community to create educational content for high schoolers. I love how the internet provides the opportunity to promote diversity in education. I’m committed to being part of the global effort to provide inclusive, comprehensive, and entertaining classes online for free. Academically, I’m particularly enthusiastic about biology, as I hope to commit my life to AIDS research. I aim to combine the educational opportunities I will receive at Toronto to focus on HIV prevention research in Southeastern Asian countries. I’m incredibly grateful to be here!”


Image of Hadassah Adaeze Joy Okebugwu

Hadassah Adaeze Joy Okebugwu

International Community School, Abuja
Nigeria

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

“Hello! My name is Hadassah Okebugwu and I am extremely grateful, honored, and humbled to be a recipient of the prestigious Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship.

“Born and raised in Nigeria, I live in a homeland where land degradation, building and structural defects, simplistic structural designs, and accommodation issues, are prominent problems. As an aspiring architect seeking to reform the common challenges that bedevil developing nations in terms of building and frameworks, I aim to design efficient building structures grand and peculiar in their representations. Through the knowledge and skills that I will acquire from the University of Toronto, I want to solve these major problems, set high standards in design, and inspire other future architects, especially in my country, Africa, and beyond.

“Aside from my academic and career aspirations, I am truly passionate about the performing arts, particularly dancing and singing, community service, music and playing sports. With a fervent enthusiasm for charity, I founded my charity organization ‘Cover the Feet’, in 2018, aimed at providing footwear to people of disadvantaged backgrounds in my community. I am currently finishing my senior year at the International Community School, Abuja, Nigeria and I am extremely excited to begin my new journey at the University of Toronto.”


Image of Cecilia Padilla

Cecilia Dolores Padilla Vizueta

Unidad Educativa Bilingüe Particular Abdón Calderón
Ecuador

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Social Sciences

Hello! My name is Cecilia Padilla, and I am an ambitious girl from a small country in South America. On my first trip abroad, coincidentally to study languages and ballet in Canada, I fell in love with the idea of having an international study experience for my university years. From then on, my number one dream has been going to an institution as diverse as U of T, and now I can finally say it came true!

“Teamwork is an important part of my life; I love the camaraderie a team brings and the responsibility it carries with it. I’ve experienced this with my dance trajectory, practising for almost 10 years, winning national and international awards. Beyond that, with my cheerleading team, I learned how to solve problems, manage a team, and have fun while being a captain.

“I’ve had the honour to represent Ecuador in international juridical and debate competitions such as the Legal Challenge of Universidad Austral (Argentina) and the debate league at Universidad Europea del Atlántico (Spain), winning several awards for oral and written presentations. I’ve also participated in several MUN conferences, having the delight of being in the organizing and academic committee besides participating as a delegate.

“In my second year of high school, I became a founding member of my school’s interact club, from which I became president the next year. I developed almost 20 projects in my term, from fundraising events to medical brigades. This brought to our club the National President’s Award and six district wheels, which allowed us to continue our work for the next year. My community involvement has also allowed me to be active on the professional and political fronts. I’ve interned in sales at Mare Shipping and served as a member of the legal investigation team of ‘Ecuador Libre’, the liberal think tank of the political party CREO. Furthermore, I received scholarships for political schools from foundations like ‘Libre Razón’ and ‘Ecuador Libre’.

“I am beyond honoured to be a recipient of this award, and I look forward to the next four years at this outstanding institution.”


Dmitriy Prokopchuk

International School of Belgrade
Russian student in Serbia

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-0p Computer Science

“Hello! My name is Dmitriy Prokopchuk and I was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Since then, I have had the privilege of living in four different countries and three different continents. All of these experiences have contributed to my multicultural upbringing, making me who I am today.

“My life motto is to always do my best, which has helped me master many endeavours, ranging from varsity sports to academics. However, as Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda once said: ‘There is always something more to learn. Even for a master.’ I constantly seek to learn from others and to apply this knowledge in meaningful ways, such as teaching others and contributing to my community. I particularly take pleasure in problem solving and have a love for learning math and computer science. I have a breadth of experience in mathematics competitions that I have used to coach and teach others. Moreover, I have a knack for creative pursuits, leading to my participation in debate, high school plays, writing competitions, and becoming a writer and editor for the school newspaper.

“Outside of academics, you can find me making jokes, playing basketball and volleyball, sleeping, reading up on math and computer science, spending a ‘normal’ amount of time playing video games, jamming to some rock, painting, or watching chess.

“I am incredibly grateful to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I cannot wait to learn from all the unique individuals at the University of Toronto.”


Ahnaf Rahman

Fairview International School
Bangladeshi student in Malaysia

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Management

“Hello! My name is Ahnaf Rahman, and I am from Bangladesh. I feel extremely humbled and honored to receive this unparalleled opportunity at the University of Toronto, which I could not have achieved without my most profound source of inspiration: my parents. We migrated to Malaysia when I was nine years old and despite the obstacles my parents faced, they were determined to prioritize the future of my siblings and me. I have always admired their altruism, benevolence and determination since childhood, which has shaped my academic and extracurricular experiences in high school. For instance, I often felt guilty by how much my peers and I overlooked the precious community service component in our IB curriculum. I took accountability for this situation and thus designed a website that helps students connect with NGOs around Malaysia for meaningful youth volunteerism opportunities. From coding this website, promoting it around my school and organizing this platform’s inauguration event, I was amazed by how technology can serve as an agent of change for organizations since it can help address the needs of marginalized groups in an unprecedented manner. I was certain I wanted to pursue this field in the future, hence I am thrilled to further develop these skills through the co-op program in management and IT.

“I have also been blessed to be elected as the Student Council President in my high school. By serving the needs of our diverse student body, I caught a glimpse of the vibrant and multicultural community I am exhilarated to join in Toronto. I am extremely grateful to be associated with the glorious history of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship, and I look forward to embracing this opportunity to continue honoring the legacy of my parents, community, and country.”


Angel Rajotia

Carmel Convent School Chandigarh
India

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Engineering Science

I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong’ (Jacinda Ardern)

“Namaste! My name is Angel and I come from Chandigarh, a small and beautiful city in India. I am humbled and honored to be a Lester B. Pearson Scholar at the University of Toronto. I am passionate about figuring out ways to use technology and science to create scalable solutions for the real world challenges we all feel overwhelmed with in these times. I am also a basketball player, an amateur astronomer, a sketch artist, and a musician experimenting with different instruments. I bring the perspectives of a lived experience of small-town India. I have grown up in a very unequal society with vast disparities of wealth, social status, and opportunities. My love of meeting and working with new people has enabled me to gather experiences, skills, and ideas which have shaped my dream of serving the world, especially the most ignored parts of the global citizenry. As a keen learner, I am convinced that complex problems require multidimensional and interdisciplinary approaches to get real working solutions. I am grateful to my school and my parents for providing me with the opportunities to realise my abilities and become a better person. I am looking forward to soaking up all the knowledge and learning experiences that my next few years will bring me during my time at U of T. I am also excited about meeting all the new people from different parts of the world, hearing their stories, and welcoming them into my life.”


Image of Toey Saralamba

Toey Saralamba

Regent’s International School Bangkok
Thailand

University of Toronto Scarborough, Social Sciences & Humanities

“My name is Toey Saralamba and I’m currently a music scholar at Regent’s International School Bangkok. As you would probably expect from a music scholar, I play the cello in the school orchestra, lead the string ensemble, and act as a ‘music ambassador’.

“Although I’m currently studying in Bangkok, I have also studied in Sydney and Budapest. My experience studying abroad made me appreciate the value of English in the modern world. English allowed me to communicate with people from various backgrounds and consequently come into contact with more perspectives. I wish to become an English teacher to provide students with the same opportunities I received by learning English. My time abroad also led me to realise that in Thailand, teachers are less valued than in developed countries. I hope to change this. In the past few years, I have taken as many opportunities as I could to develop skills and knowledge that would help me become a better teacher in the future. These opportunities included working as a tutor, acting as a mentor in the school’s mentor and mentee program, and investigating the effect of the time students spend reading per week on their academic achievement.

“The Lester B. Pearson Scholarship is an amazing opportunity for which I’m immensely grateful. I aim to make the most of the next four years and use the skills I acquire to improve the education system in my home country.”


Image of Nasya Zoe Sequeira

Nasya Zoe Sequeira

Dhirubhai Ambani International School
India

Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education

“Hi! I’m Nasya Sequeira, an IB Diploma student from Mumbai, India. I’ve lived in three countries before moving to Mumbai in 2010, allowing me to develop an enriched worldview and broadened perspectives that I hope will expand alongside the multicultural community at U of T.

“Having trained in five dance styles, international-level football, horse-riding, gymnastics, and squash; movement has always been the focus of my life. The desire to explore the limits of what the human body can accomplish, combined with my interest in biology and sports science, is what drove me to study kinesiology, and I plan to further my education by eventually specialising in physiotherapy.

“In Mumbai, where access to artistic and recreational opportunities is limited to a privileged few, I’ve used my experience as an athlete in an attempt to bridge the gap – conducting dance and music workshops in orphanages, creating a video campaign to support the meals of underprivileged young sportspeople, and co-launching a fitness enterprise that provides personalised exercise plans to teenagers. My strong belief that everyone deserves equal opportunities motivates my efforts to empower the members of my community.

“I am immensely honoured, excited, and grateful to be joining the Lester B. Pearson Scholars cohort, and cannot wait to see where the boundless opportunities offered by U of T take me!”


Image of Katarina Šotić

Katarina Šotić

New Hall School
Serbian student in the United Kingdom

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Computer Science

“Hello! My name is Katarina Šotić, and I am originally from Belgrade, Serbia, but currently studying towards 4 A-Levels at New Hall School in the United Kingdom, as a recipient of the HMC International Scholarship. I am honoured to have been selected as one of the recipients of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship this year and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my journey at the University of Toronto.

“Being raised in the culturally turbulent Balkan region and having studied abroad already, I look forward to bringing diversity to the Scarborough campus and making long-lasting friendships with students from all over the world. From an early age, I have enjoyed problem-solving and being intellectually challenged, and took part in many competitions and Olympiads. My academic interests include computing, mathematics and physics, but aside from that, I am also a passionate musician. I sing, play the piano and the guitar, and also have a high school diploma in music theory. Additionally, I also enjoy giving back to my community acting as a peer mentor for younger students in my school; as well as leading a group of volunteers meeting with adults with learning difficulties weekly. Outside of school, I enjoy taking part in winter sports, such as skiing and ice skating, as well as taking online coding courses, cuddling my dog, and being an amateur barista at home!

“I would like to thank the admission committee at the University of Toronto once again for providing me with this once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am looking forward to getting the most out of this experience both academically and outside of the classroom, as a part of the Class of 2025 starting this fall!”


Image of Maansi Suri

Maansi Suri

Dubai International Academy
Indian student in the United Arab Emirates

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

“Hi! My name is Maansi and I’m an Indian citizen from Dubai, UAE. I am extremely honored to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson scholarship at the University of Toronto!

“As a budding mechanical engineer who aspires to transform the field of prosthetics, my goals and virtues center on a beautiful mantra that was created by the musical genius who left us on the 25th of June in 2009: ‘Heal the World. Make it a better place, for you and for me, and the entire human race.’ (Michael Jackson).  No one could have said it better. He used music to urge us to take up the initiative, I’ll use science to make it happen.

“While overcoming the challenges of the IB, I also managed to squeeze in tiny initiatives of my own; whether it’s leading the student body as Head Girl, attending MUNs, serving lunch at a seniors home, or even hosting a Women in Engineering Webinar to inspire girls to take up engineering, I have taken small steps towards my goal of making the world a better place.

“I’m excited to see how our diverse backgrounds mesh wonderfully to create a wholesome college experience at the University of Toronto!”


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Tanya Kaur Talwar

Amity International School Pushp Vihar
India

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

‘The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.’ (Socrates)

“My name is Tanya Kaur Talwar, and I take pride in being a student of the teachings of ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and modern thought leaders like Peter Drucker, Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and many more. I strongly believe that every day is an opportunity to experience how little we know about our universe, our fellow humans, and most importantly, about ourselves.

“I am a high school student from India who conducted cognitive psychology research at the age of 14 and relentlessly pursued it to prove that there are no slow learners in a classroom. I represented this project at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2018, to encourage the realization that teaching methodologies determine the speed and quality of our comprehension.

“Given the depth of ambiguity regarding the cosmos, the number of people crowding academia is highly underwhelming. A fundamental reason behind this is the growing learning poverty in schooling systems today.

“Philosophy, psychology, and educational policy are amongst a few of my academic interests. My interests in psychology helped me win many quizzes and competitions, including India’s largest psychology quiz.

“I am honored and exhilarated to be a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholar Award for the class of 2025. I intend to fully utilize every resource that is made available to me at the University of Toronto to further my understanding of human behavior and our cosmos, as well as to eradicate learning poverty and equip many others like me to discover research at an early age.”


Image of Caitlin Hui Xarn Tan

Caitlin Hui Xarn Tan

St. Joseph’s Institution International School
Malaysia

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

“Hello! My name is Caitlin Tan, and I’m currently completing my IB-program in Malaysia; a small but incredibly diverse country in Southeast Asia. Therefore, I’m really looking forward to studying in the colourful city of Toronto. I enjoy biology and chemistry, and I’m thrilled to explore the intricacies of these disciplines in the life sciences program.

“I am extremely grateful to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson scholarship, and I believe there truly isn’t anywhere else I would rather start my journey towards pharmacology than at the University of Toronto.”