Meet the 2024 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 2024 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

Aysha Issam Abdallat

Amman Academy

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

Hi! My name is Aysha and I was born and raised in Amman, a city of ancient stone and modern dreams.

As one of those dreamers, I am an aspiring architect with hopes of shaping the skylines of tomorrow and I believe that the world-class education I am to receive at U of T is going to provide me with the tools to become a visionary architect, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and innovative thinking needed to create spaces that serve a purpose but also evoke an emotional response.

Architecture, in my view, has this magical transformative power to transcend mere functionality and elevate spaces into living works of art. It’s a way to shelter displaced people, whether that is in the physical or mental sense.

When I’m not cramming for a math exam, I enjoy playing the violin and creating visual art. These artistic vices provide much needed-solace from the rigors of academia all while honing my patience, discipline and attention to detail.

Receiving the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship is an incredible honor and I look forward to creating a vibrant community alongside my fellow scholars and to start initiatives that advance environmental conservation and intercultural understanding. I cannot wait to see how this journey changes me!

Aisha Adamu

International Community School, Abuja

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

Hi! My name is Aisha. I’m from Kano, Nigeria, but I grew up in Abuja, the capital.

I’ve had a passion for psychology and neuroscience since I was in third grade. My hometown is a juxtaposition of grandiose palaces and the Almajiranci children who live under deplorable conditions. Through high school, I have built a successful non-profit organization that aims to better the lives of young out-of-school/in-need women and children. Psychology and neuroscience at the University of Toronto offer the conceptual tools I need to make sense of social issues (like the Almajiranci children), work with others struggling with their mental health, and advocate for sustainable solutions in education, particularly for girl children in underserved regions of Nigeria.

Outside of my academic and career goals, I love math, especially calculus! I have a little wall where I do calculus problems for fun. I also love My Story Animated, and I’ve watched almost every episode for the past couple of years. I love watching Netflix, reading books, running track, horse riding, and helping people.

I am ecstatic to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and look forward to the next four years at this institution!

Deborah Ayobami Adesanya

Calvary Arrows College Gboko

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Mathematics

I am Adesanya Deborah, a Nigerian. I attended Calvary Arrows College in Nigeria where I was able to break the glass ceiling to emerge the first ever female president of the school’s prestigious science club with international acclaim, the JETS (Junior Engineers Technicians and Scientists) club.

I’m excited about mathematics, science and the means of applying them to solve problems. I’ve been honoured with multiple awards both at school and on a national level for my achievements in these fields. I am immensely grateful to God for these achievements, as well as for placing great people in my life to guide and assist me along the way.

I love impacting others with the skills I’ve gained. So shortly after my graduation, I returned back to my secondary school where I taught maths to the students especially those that found maths difficult.

I am also passionate about climate change, so I organise climate change awareness programs to train students across Africa. The goal is to equip them with science and programming skills needed to solve climate change problems and promote the adoption of best practices in favour of sustainability.

I am delighted to study mathematics at a prestigious institution like the University of Toronto, I aim to find solutions to problems and serve mankind in the best possible way. I feel really privileged to be among the Lester B. Pearson scholars for this year. I’m committed to maximizing the opportunity to enhance my growth and make meaningful contributions to the UofT community and the world at large.

Abror Axrorov

Secondary School No. 63 Samarkand

University of Toronto Mississauga; Computer Science, Mathmatics & Statistics

Assalomu Alaykum! My name is Abror. I was born and raised in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. I am honored and excited to be joining the U of T community.

I studied at a public high school in Uzbekistan, where I immersed myself in coding and math. I was the captain of the ‘Zakovat’ intellectual club, the Uzbek version of the Russian intellectual game ‘What? Where? When?’. I also was in my school’s soccer varsity team for 4 years.

After I finished high school, I started my gap year with a summer project at the Samarkand State Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering. I worked with Dr. Ismayilov to study how air pollution changes during the day and how it’s related to the number of cars on the road. We studied the time intervals when the air pollution was at its worst.

Recently, I have been engaged in several mentorship activities in local communities as well: I have been serving as a mentor in English language at Westminster Academy Samarkand; I helped beginners to learn Python programming language during IT Park competitions last summer; and I volunteered at ICTWEEK to share my knowledge about technology and help government and business leaders from around the world.

I hope to spend the following years in pursuit of knowledge and growth. I am looking forward to joining the diverse community at U of T and being part of Pearson Scholarship Program.

Nalani Arianna Zahara Chassang

Queen’s College, Bridgetown

Faculty of Arts and Science, Innis College, Social Sciences

I am Nalani Chassang from the beautiful Caribbean islands of Saint Lucia and Barbados. I am incredibly honored to be a Lester B. Pearson Scholar. I intend to specialize in Economics, while also pursuing interdisciplinary studies in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. Small Island Developing States, like my homeland, confront a range of distinct challenges, but I am optimistic data-driven solutions can yield valuable insights to determine the best way forward. I hope to contribute to the discovery of these solutions.

The value I place on serving the community is deeply rooted in my ethos, as exemplified by my extensive involvement and steadfast dedication to multiple service-based organizations and initiatives, in which I have held various leadership positions. Quite often, making a difference doesn’t require much, yet it can have an immeasurable impact. Service to community both empowers individuals and enriches the lives of those affected.

As someone who loves languages and cultures, I am excited to explore the diverse multiculturalism of Canada: Indigenous, Anglophone, Francophone and everything in between. Throughout my academic journey, I have consistently challenged myself; thus, I am eager to delve into my studies and actively contribute to the U of T community.

Tessa Emily Deki

Northern Highlands Regional High School
New Jersey, United States of America

Faculty of Arts and Science, Victoria College, Social Sciences

Hi, my name is Tessa Deki and I’m from New Jersey. A little about me is that I love playing volleyball, skiing, and spending time with my family! I feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity and thank everyone who has given me the support and guidance necessary to become the person I am today.

Through my education at U of T, I’m excited to discover how my academic passions can be applied to solve real-world issues and help better the world we live in. I am looking forward to pursuing my existing interest in the fields of economics and biology, while also keeping my mind open to other opportunities this university has to offer.

From past experience, I know that the best way to make a meaningful contribution is to do my best to welcome every new opportunity that crosses my path. For example, I run Relay For Life in my high school in which we have raised over 50k for the American Cancer Society. Furthermore, I also direct Tech Time, an afterschool program held at my local library where high school students are able to assist anyone looking for tech help.

While my dedication to my community remains steadfast, I also enjoy the moments spent with my classmates and friends. One incredibly meaningful experience was capturing the state championship with my volleyball team for the second time in school history. Being a senior as well as a captain and being able to mentor and see my dedication to a program pay off was truly a rewarding experience. I am excited to carry this attitude with me during my time at U of T.

I’m looking forward to finding new ways to benefit my community in Toronto and joining U of T in the fall. Receiving this scholarship is truly an honor and I thank U of T for believing in my future potential. I can’t wait to explore Toronto!

Haolin Duan

Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School

Faculty of Arts and Science, St. Michael’s College, Rotman Commerce

Hey there! My name is Haolin, and I am very excited to join the brilliant U of T community!

I describe myself as someone deeply passionate about delving into the realms of economics. Since my first encounter with economics, I have always been captivated by the intricate dance of numbers, markets, and human behavior that defines the world of economics. During high school, I took an active part in all kinds of economics competition. The exhilaration and refreshing sensation of challenging myself and expanding my knowledge boundaries deeply fascinates me! My friends always say I’m a passionate and altruistic person, I think this is largely because I am dedicated to helping others and volunteering. Particularly, I have been actively involved in the student council and a volunteering remote teaching club.

Having spent 15 years in China and 3 years in Sweden, attending both traditional Chinese schools and international institutions, I have developed a habit of closely observing and analyzing the world around me. In 2022, I led a six-member team to do a one-month investigation into how detrimental the March through May pandemic lockdown in Shanghai was to senior citizens. Our findings were compiled into a 2000-word journal report titled “Silver Lining Behind Late Adulthood Challenges,” which earned us the Superior Award in the Youth Observation Contest. This experience highlighted the often-overlooked struggles faced by underprivileged senior citizens in society. This commitment prompted my participation in the 2023 TEDx event, where I delivered a 10-minute speech titled “Digital Divide Faced by the Elderly in this Internet Age” to an audience of 200 students and teachers.

In my spare time, I also have many hobbies that keep me energized and fulfilled. One of my greatest passions is music, and I find myself drawn to the soulful rhythms of R&B. I also have a love for basketball. It is a great way for me to stay active and competitive, lifting my spirits when I feel emotionally down.

I am honored to receive the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship! I believe I can bring my passion about academics and life to the U of T community!

Hannah Bibi Aarfah Emambocus

Dr Maurice Curé State College

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

Growing up, I was always fascinated by how virtually any concept burns down to mathematics. This discipline permeates almost every sphere of life – whether science, finance, or software.

Despite being a small island – barely a dot on the map of the world – Mauritius has kept on providing me with amazing opportunities to nurture my insatiable curiosity. I applied mathematical principles in competitions like Code Craft and the ‘4-minute’ science contest. In the latter, my partner and I engineered a model car running solely on renewable hydrogen power. This made me dig deeper into environmental-friendly alternatives.

My school also supported me in my academic endeavours. As a result, I won numerous awards – both at the national and international level – in subjects ranging from mathematics, to computer science, natural sciences, and accounting.

I also volunteered at the Muslim Youth Federation, where I had to liaise with other NGOs to organise charity events, as well as teaching and sharing my passion for mathematics with other young people. It was rewarding to see how a small step taken each day could lead to an amazing achievement in the end.

I know that, at U of T, my passion will keep on growing. Being a 2024 Pearson Scholar is indeed an incredible honour. Using the resources at this prestigious institution, I look forward to learning from the brightest minds and applying my knowledge towards a brighter future.

Xi (Vanessa) Feng

Cleveland District State High School
Chinese student studying in Australia

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Engineering Science

Sciences and computers have been my life story. I love solving problems, and learning how the universe is put together. But what truly captivates me the most about these subjects, is their ability to transcend the mundane aspects of everyday life.

Throughout high school, my academic work has been recognized on both a national and global scale. I won several coding and science competitions, completed internships within the field of computational mathematics, presented research at conferences, been invited to prestigious maths and science research programs on full scholarships, received distinguished awards and bursaries from government and universities, and been recognized internationally as a World Science Scholar.

Alongside my academic endeavours, I’m deeply committed to promoting diversity and equity in the STEM field. As an award-winning science communicator, I have extensive experience in leading several international non-profits to organise STEM outreach for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and volunteering as an ambassador to raise the profile of STEM in rural areas. My work has been recognised by The Order of Australia Association, Zonta International, Rotary International and the local community.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, drawing, philosophy, watching Criminal Minds and Hannibal!

I am incredibly honoured and beyond grateful to be a Pearson Scholar of the class of 2028. U of T’s emphasis on diversity and collaborative interdisciplinary thought, will allow me to bring people from different walks of life with evolving identities together into a tight-knit community to create societal transformation that will best serve the world, and ultimately one day, create the world that never has been.

Lastly, I’d like to express my immense gratitude to my school, community and mentors, for shaping me into who I am today. Thank you, Miss Hendy and Mr. Mitchell, for making me fearless in my exploration of the world.

Ryan Adam Gontier

Peponi School

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

Hello! My name is Ryan Gontier, and I come from the bustling city of Nairobi, Kenya. I was born into a diverse, multifaith family, which allowed me to view people’s differences as a tool to strengthen society rather than divide it.

Throughout high school, I have had an overwhelming passion for mathematics and physics. I loved learning about planets, stars, and galaxies in an attempt to understand the universe we live in, and I plan to continue my love for learning as I pursue engineering at the University of Toronto.

In my final year, I was humbled to be elected as the Head of School. This position allowed me to establish an Environment Ministry combatting plastic pollution and a student-led Media Committee to promote and encourage student voices in school.

I was also lucky to be the Chair of the Charity Committee, where I led some incredible initiatives in rural Kenya. From raising money through charity walks and bake sales to helping build entire classrooms, I am proud of the work we did to improve the lives of those less fortunate.

Outside the classroom, I enjoy cooking (or at least trying to), playing field hockey, and watching sci-fi movies.

While I am sure I will miss my family and beautiful country, I am excited to embark on a new journey in Toronto where I can make new friends and unforgettable memories.

I want to thank my family for supporting me, my teachers for believing in me, and my friends for laughing with me. I am deeply honoured to have been selected as a Lester B. Pearson award recipient.

Krishna Gupta

Modern School New Delhi

Faculty of Arts and Science, St. Michael’s College, Rotman Commerce

Hello! My name is Krishna Gupta, and I am from India. I graduated from Modern School New Delhi. I am truly honored to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar.

I am a self-motivated and passionate business student, shaped by a mosaic of personal, academic, and volunteer experiences. Having grown up in a culturally diverse environment, I am aware of the social and economic disparities that persist in our world. My volunteer work with underserved communities has shown me that inclusive economic development is crucial for societal progress. I am drawn to the idea that the application of economic principles can lead to improvements in the lives of people, while offering sustainable solutions.

I look forward to joining the class of 2028 and making the most of the endless opportunities that the U of T community has to offer.

Ayesha Gupta

Jayshree Periwal International School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Life Sciences

Hello! I’m Ayesha Gupta from Jaipur, India, and I’ll be attending the University of Toronto this fall for co-op life-sciences. I’ve always been fueled by an insatiable curiosity for cutting edge-technology and research, particularly in the field of neurological disorders. I envision my time here as an opportunity to delve into these complex areas and contribute to impactful solutions.

Beyond academics, I love to sing and dance, try new hobbies or restaurants, and adore spending time with my friends and family, be it studying together, or trying the newest laser tag place in town!

At University, I hope to nurture an environment of support and growth. Looking ahead, I aspire to emerge as a skilled researcher and scientist, making meaningful contributions to societal well-being.

I am immensely honored to be a Pearson scholar, and I’m looking to seize my opportunity to collaborate with immensely talented people from all over the world.

Vedant Harlalka

Pace Junior Science College Dadar

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering

The power of engineering to change the world using simple lines of code and circuit diagrams captivates me. Having invented India’s most economical 3D Printer, I’ve experienced firsthand its profound impact.

Namaste! I’m Vedant, born in Singapore and raised in the bustling city of Mumbai.

My journey started in 2020, when I needed a 3D printer for the rapid prototyping of projects but couldn’t afford one. Using recycled computer parts, a classmate and I managed to build one for under $100. Continuing my pursuit of frugal innovation, I developed an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser during the pandemic which I provided to local clinics and stores, despite supply chain shortages.

In a quest to spread the innovation culture, I began delivering technical guest lectures on ‘Innovating with Arduino’ at engineering colleges and high schools across India. I introduced them to my ‘5-step prototyping mantra’, and used conversational psychology techniques to connect with students from diverse social backgrounds. From initially facing apprehension, to leaving the classrooms with thundering applause, the experience has been a rollercoaster. Forward to 2024, these lectures have become an awaited event at these colleges!

My work has been featured in 30+ newspapers, journals, and media including platforms like TEDx and Josh Talks with a combined global reach of 50M+.

Apart from engineering and tech, I’m an avid cyclist. My weekends usually consist of 100–150 km of backcountry rides. In Mumbai, I’ve worked with the police and the Smart Commute Foundation to advocate for bike lanes, install parking stands, and conduct cyclothons which saw over 5000 participants.

I’m honored to be a part of the 2024 cohort of Lester B. Pearson Scholars. This life-changing opportunity is my gateway to world class labs, faculty, and UofT’s extensive alumni network. I’ll be pursuing the PEY Co-Op Electrical Engineering Program. UofT, here I come, ready to leave my mark on the world…… one silicon wafer at a time!

Ngọc Anh Thư (Tina) Huỳnh

London International Academy
Vietnamese student studying in Ontario, Canada

Faculty of Arts and Science, St. Michael’s College, Rotman Commerce

Hi! My name is Anh Thư, or Tina to my friends, and I’m a proud Saigonese.

Born and raised in such a bustling metropolis like Saigon, I find myself immersed in vibrant and culturally rich places around the world. Joining the U of T community, I’m excited to make Toronto my next haven for intellectual and cultural pursuits.

As my cultural curiosity prompts me past the border, I aspire to become a well-rounded global citizen. My journey began with what I refer to as pages of my passport to endless adventures and uncharted conversations – the languages that I speak. With English, Mandarin, Korean, Spanish, and French (and of course, Vietnamese) in my pocket, I’m the polyglot everyone needs in a group project. This linguistic proficiency brings me together with folks from diverse backgrounds, fostering my experiences in the 23 countries that I have visited, whether it is Europe or North America.

My global perspective extends as my entrepreneurial spirit grows. I founded an online business to offer Korean merchandise retailing services to customers in the United States and Canada, which later expanded globally to more than 10 countries. This business is an irreplaceable part of my teenage years that connected me with amazing people and equipped me with real-life exposure to the international market and essential marketing and financial skills. Besides the image of an entrepreneur, I also embrace my passion as a writer. I find joy beneath the tip of my pen, which eventually led me to my authorship! My first published work, ‘Cẩm Nang Du Học Canada’ (A Complete Guide to Study in Canada), embodies the experience and knowledge I acquired from my time in Canada. This book is just the beginning as fascinating stories of mine await to be put into words for the next publications.

Joining the Lester B. Pearson community, I’m thrilled to meet brilliant like-minded students from all over the world and see where this incredible opportunity takes us. As a Pearson Scholar, I’m committed to becoming a business leader and a student ambassador who spreads compassion across U of T and beyond.

Kalina Marta Kalwasińska

Liceum no3 Ogólnokształcące

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Management

Hello! My name is Kalina Kalwasińska, and I’m a 19-year-old IB student from a little town in Poland called Sopot, which is more than 6,000 kilometers away from Toronto. Living by the Baltic Sea made me feel connected to nature during the busiest moments of my life—and trust me, a lot was going on!

My dedication to bringing innovation and change to Polish education led me to write articles for the biggest Newspaper in Poland, Wyborcza, reaching over 9 million monthly readers. Later, I gave my TEDx talk titled ‘Breaking Free from Traditional Education’ and spoke on national television (TVN Warner Bros. Discovery) about the power of female support as a laureate of a Herstory program organized by the Girls Future Ready Foundation. The pinnacle of the project was giving a speech at the residence of United States Ambassador Mark Brzezinski. Now, I’m a Marketing Director at Girls Future Ready, impacting over 80,000 girls’ lives and being able to make opportunities for young women more visible.

As an extrovert passionate about business, economics, and entrepreneurship, I’ve also led a team and designed a campaign promoting Social Economy, targeting 100,000 recipients. My motto, ‘there’s no winning without trying’, allowed me to expand my horizons and stay as active as possible. I became a laureate of the Amazon Development Center program ‘Girls Do Engineering’, where I created my first start-up and then co-organized a MUN conference in my town, putting my knowledge of economics and finance into practice. Fostering my creative side, I have played the piano since I was six years old and have been singing for seven years. Music is always my companion!

The day I received the admission decision was one of the most important ones in my life. It’s an incredible chance for me and my family to afford to study at the University of Toronto and receive the highest quality of education possible. I can’t wait to meet other Pearson Scholars, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity.

Abhinn Kaushik

Le Bocage International School
Indian student studying in Mauritius

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

Hello! My name is Abhinn and I am thrilled to join the amazing community of Pearson Scholars in 2024!

I completed my IB education at Le Bocage International School in Mauritius, and am very excited to study Computer Science at U of T! I have been exploring the field of Computer Science over the years and opportunities such as representing my country at the FIRST Global Challenge in Geneva, developing an app-based white cane for the visually impaired population, and being selected as one of the 22 students in the Southern-African region to attend a fellowship organized by the Mauritius School of Internet Governance have encouraged me to pursue further studies in this field. I am also a badminton player, competitive boxer, public speaker, singer, guitarist, and pianist. I hope to continue these passions at U of T and I am looking forward to meeting new people, challenging myself, and making the most of new opportunities available to me!

Elif Kaya

Vizyon Anatolian High School

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

Hi there, I’m Elif Kaya! I’m an incoming psychology undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. I am committed to mental health activism, social justice, and youth empowerment. At 15, I founded the One Smile Effect, Turkey’s first youth-led mental health organization. Through this initiative, I’ve led a team of over 100 volunteers and spearheaded projects benefiting 3,500 individuals across 60 countries.

My work with One Smile Effect has granted me the opportunity to collaborate with global organizations, speak at various events including a TEDx conference, and engage in media interviews and PR activities, all in pursuit of our mission to support youth mental health. I have been honored with awards such as the Global Teen Leader award and have been featured in 20 media outlets, including Forbes.

Having faced my own mental health challenges, I understand the stigma and obstacles that many endure in accessing care. This personal journey drives me to dismantle these barriers and advocate for universal mental health access. While recognition has never been my goal, being chosen as a Pearson Scholar is a dream come true. I am grateful for the opportunities it will provide at the University of Toronto and beyond, allowing me to continue making a positive impact.

Hassan Raza Khan

The City School DHA Campus

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Mathematics

Hi! My name is Hassan, and I belong to the valley of Quetta in Pakistan. Because of my father’s occupation, I’ve had to change schools eleven times thus far, across all the provinces of Pakistan as well as a tenure in South Korea. Quite a diverse experience, I’d say.

Throughout my life, my fascination for mathematics has been constant. Mathematics is a very versatile art–present in almost every noble pursuit. Throughout high school, I have authored two independent research papers in mathematics, including one where I devised an efficient algorithm for the exponentiation of imaginary numbers and another where I derived my own Pi computer. I’ve also learned LaTeX coding while writing these academic manuscripts. Another thing I have always been intrigued by was economics and how money works. Because of that, I took economics in my A-Levels despite having all science subjects. If modern-day disciplines weren’t so specialized, I would’ve been a polymath like in the olden times.

Sports has always been one of my passions. I have represented the Punjab Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) in National Under-18 Tennis tournaments. I started taking swimming classes back in South Korea, and since then, I have been swimming every summer. While in Korea, I did not miss out on the opportunity to learn Taekwondo and even earned a Black Belt–a Junior Black for back then. Strength training, calisthenics, and cardio-fitness is not just a habit, but a lifestyle for me.

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to the University of Toronto for providing me with this remarkable opportunity by selecting me as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar. I will be looking forward to meeting the incredibly diverse and talented faculty and students on campus.

Zi Yan Lew

Mont’Kiara International School

Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education; Kinesiology

Hi! My name is Zi Yan but I go by Joanne. Currently, I’m doing the IB Diploma at Mont’Kiara International School in Malaysia where I have spent most of my life. However, I have also lived in Beijing and London previously.

I am an avid sports fan and athlete. I started swimming at the age of 3 and started swimming competitively at 8, competing as a Selangor state swimmer these last two years. I also captained my school’s O15 volleyball team both junior and senior year. My passion in sports has led me to pursue a degree in Kinesiology with the ultimate goal of pursuing sports medicine, rehabilitation, or physical therapy.

Apart from sports, I have been in many school organizations where I held various leadership positions, served as a tutor, and performed as a part of my school’s orchestra. My love for music led me to serve as the president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society for the last three years. In this role, I organized music events and collaborated with a local shelter home, raising funds for them through our concerts.

It is an absolute honor to be awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship and I can’t wait to spend the next chapter of my life at the University of Toronto.

Karen Martin

Harrow International School Shanghai
Indonesian student stuyding in China

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Computer Engineering

Hi, I am Karen, an Indonesian student studying A-Levels at Harrow International School Shanghai as the current Strutt Science Scholar. I am glad to experience a plethora of different cultures, ranging from the wonderful country of Indonesia to the vibrant city of Shanghai, all while studying in a supportive school environment.

Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, once said ‘I’ve always believed that you should never, ever give up and you should always keep fighting even when there’s only a slightest chance.’ This mantra resonates with me greatly because I have always strived for excellence and my interest in engineering was ignited from humble beginnings. As a regular flyer between my home in China and my extended family in Indonesia, I became intrigued by the apparent defiance of physics displayed by an airplane as it lifted, despite being denser than air. This ‘magic’ kindled in me a fascination for learning the theoretical backbone of engineering – mathematics and science while applying these fundamental concepts to analyzing, understanding, and improving the inner mechanisms of different objects, especially cars, planes, and computers. I have extensively explored these subject areas by challenging myself with math, physics, and chemistry competitions, where I have won several gold awards. I also undertook long-term and short-term research projects in different areas, including fluid mechanics, sustainability, and numerical simulations, and most notably a dissertation titled ‘How plausible is it that Formula 1 will become net zero carbon by 2030?’ for my Extended Project Qualification. Additionally, I have been actively involved with my school’s student council throughout high school, taking on roles such as year group representative, house captain, and form representative. I also serve as the school’s Academic Monitor where I am organizing the school’s peer-tutoring system as well as providing academic support and advice to other students. I have collaborated with friends to start an Arduino club with the aim of encouraging independent learning and exploration into robotics among Senior School students. I have been involved with scheduling hands-on sessions, designing a learning plan, and pitching and promoting our ideas to teachers and students. Moreover, I have recently been invited by the school’s Director of Studies to be involved with the new Artificial Intelligence Committee, where we will be looking at how AI can be used in school, along with putting together the school AI guidelines and working on AI-related projects.

Throughout my journey of exploration, my interest has grown beyond pure curiosity to an ardent desire to become an engineer. I chose computer engineering because of its versatility, and I aim to use my acquired knowledge to make contributions to the innovation of new technologies and the development of the current technologies, which will positively impact the wider community. It is the utmost honor for me to study computer engineering at Canada’s #1-ranked engineering school as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar.

Sarina Mashreghimoghaddam

Marianopolis College
Iranian student studying in Quebec, Canada

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Computer Engineering

Hello! My name is Sarina, and I am immensely honoured to receive the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship to study computer engineering at the University of Toronto.

Originally from Iran, I moved to Montreal three years ago and I am currently enrolled in the Honours Pure and Applied Science program at Marianopolis College. I have been profoundly fascinated with mathematics since childhood and it has become an integral part of my identity. This passion allows me to view the world through a mathematical lens, and participating in numerous math and programming competitions in Iran and Canada has helped me to constantly expand my knowledge.

My interest in computer engineering stems from this mathematical perspective as it allows me to use this standpoint to come up with creative solutions to real-world problems. In recent years, I have worked on many independent projects where I learned how to apply different techniques to create solutions in a variety of fields and I have gained valuable technical experience through multiple internships.

I have been deeply engaged in extracurricular activities related to mathematics and computer science. As the president of the Math, Programming and AI clubs at my school, I mentor other students to learn more about these fascinating fields. I also enjoy attending hackathons and I have learned a lot from spending late hours coding and working on creative ideas with like-minded people. To share this enthusiasm with others, I organized MariHacks VII this year, Quebec’s largest hackathon for high school and CEGEP students which offers younger students a unique chance to pursue their passion.

I am very excited to pursue my passions further during my studies at the University of Toronto and as a Pearson Scholar, I am committed to utilizing all the resources provided to me to make a positive impact in the future.

Muhammad Rayyan Mir

Lahore Grammar School Defence DHA Phase I

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

At age 8, I wanted to be a writer. At age 10, that changed into filmmaking. At age 14, I knew I’d eventually play for FC Barcelona. At age 18, I want to change the world.

Hi! My name is Rayyan Mir, and I’m from Lahore, Pakistan.

From helping my father out at his restaurant making the best shawarmas you will ever eat, to editing videos for MMA leagues around the world, I consider myself a creative.

However, the core foundation of all my work is the intention to bring about change for issues I am truly passionate about. I am a strong vocal advocate for the multiple communities I am a part of, and constantly strive to bring change to my surroundings. Through Sunno Pakistan, I work towards leading the change for legislative reform and learn different perspectives by being the only Asian interviewer for MIT LaunchX.

Beyond that, as the Head boy of LGS Defence, as well as President for the MUN and Entrepreneurial Societies, I have been able to strengthen my leadership potential, with the aim of inspiring my peers and juniors to also create a positive difference in the community.

Those close to me would tell you that I have a knack for finding beauty in the mundane. Whether it’s through buying the school cat, Luna, lunch, spending hours dissecting Notting Hill’s soundtrack, or even rambling passionately about my favorite car (and prized Hot Wheels collection), I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about!

All in all, I’m extremely grateful to have gotten this incredible opportunity to pursue my dreams, and am looking forward to innovating and building alongside my fellow scholars at U of T. I will always continue to strive for positive change, becoming one step closer to changing the world.

Muinkhon Nabiev

Presidential School for Gifted Students Buston

University of Toronto Mississauga, Commerce

Hi! My name is Muinkhon, and I am from Tajikistan. First, I want to express my deep gratitude and excitement for becoming the recipient of the Pearson International Scholarship and to have the opportunity to study at one of the best universities around the world.

Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved solving all sorts of problems and challenges. It didn’t matter what the problem was about; I just enjoyed figuring things out. Whether it was Sudoku, building with LEGO bricks, or tackling math questions at school. I always liked finding different ways to solve things. This interest led me to robotics. Starting with LEGO robots, I learned the basics and then moved on to more advanced projects with REV robotics. Eventually, I even got to compete internationally in the FIRST Global Challenge. This competition introduced me to global problems like climate change, where we used our robots to address important challenges.

‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’ – Muhammad Ali

Inspired by this quote, my ultimate goal now is to significantly contribute for the betterment of our world, by fighting global problems, like climate change, mental health issues and hunger. Studying commerce at the University of Toronto offers an extraordinary opportunity to bring this vision to life. With the university’s helpful resources and supportive community, I’m committed to turning ideas into action and making a positive difference globally.

In addition to my academic studies and extracurricular activities, I enjoy researching diverse topics, reading books about entrepreneurship, leadership, and communication, and engaging in hobbies such as gardening, swimming, and playing tennis during my free time.

I deeply value this opportunity and look forward to a challenging and rewarding experience at the University of Toronto.

Thuy Nguyen

Võ Nguyên Giáp High School for the Gifted

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

In the heart of Vietnam’s central region, where natural disasters and economic hardships are frequent, I found my calling. Hi! I’m Thuy, a ceaselessly curious mind and a compassionate soul, an entrepreneur not just by profession but by passion, driven to create meaningful change in the world.

My journey began amidst the resilience and spirit of my community, which instilled in me a profound sense of responsibility. This responsibility turned into action as I spearheaded the Tết Nhân Ái (Compassionate Tet) campaign throughout 2022 to 2023, providing practical as well as emotional support to 80 families, helping them start the new year with hope and financial security. Additionally, my commitment to educational equity shines through in my role as the founder and president of Độc Lạ Vocab (Unique Vocab), a non-profit organization that has provided free, high-quality English learning resources to over 18,000 students.

As I continue to grow, my passion for exploring cultures flourishes. I am particularly fond of learning languages, a testament to which is my fluency in English, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and my current endeavor to learn Thai. This passion further extends to the arts—literature, cinema, travel, and music—each a gateway to the diverse narratives that inform my worldview.

Embracing the role of a Pearson Scholar, I see a clear path ahead. This scholarship is not just an accolade; it’s a catalyst for me to become a business leader who defines success not only by the sustainable profitability of my ventures but also by the positive impact on society and the environment. With integrity at the core, I am poised to champion sustainability and social responsibility in the business world. I am committed to honoring the distinction of the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship through my actions and contributions, ensuring that I continually grow and serve as an inspiration to others along the way.

I am Thuy—a student, a dreamer, and a doer—ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. My journey at UTSC is just beginning, and I am excited to see where it leads.

Diyorbek Nomozov

Target International School

University of Toronto Mississauga; Computer Science, Mathmatics & Statistics

My name is Diyorbek, and I am from Navoi, Uzbekistan. I am honored to have a chance to study Computer Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

As a kid who grew up in Navoi, an industrial city in my country, I always saw hard-working people rushing to their jobs either at fortune-making factories or fame-gaining government jobs. Being surrounded by such a community led me to become a part of the Youth Union in my city. As a Youth President of Navoi City, I organized events, marathons, and fairs for over 21 schools while representing Navoi at Republican summits.

Later, as a 16-year-old kid, I went to an internship at the NMMC, the world’s 4th largest gold-producing company. Knocked down by hardships and poor working conditions, I decided to dedicate myself to finding possible solution to the problem.

I believe that my journey will be a valuable background for my further goals in undergraduate education. The Lester B. Pearson scholarship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I am eternally grateful to have it. I am thrilled and extremely privileged to join the Lester B Pearson Community.

Sofia Penttilä

Notre Dame High School
California, United States of America

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

Hi, my name is Sofia Penttilä, and I am a student from San Jose, California. I’m originally from Finland and lived in Helsinki when I was younger but have spent most of my life abroad, living in California as well as Singapore and Beijing. Having moved between four countries as a young child, I deeply appreciate the international community of the University of Toronto. I am incredibly excited to explore the beautiful city of Toronto as a Pearson Scholar and grateful for the opportunity to continue my education at the University of Toronto.

My dream is to become an immunologist. Specifically, I hope to work directly with patients in a clinical setting, conduct research on the global burden of allergies, and influence health policy on local and global levels. I am captivated by the immune system’s dichotomous role in both immunity and allergic reactions. I discovered my passion for immunology while interning at NASA’s GeneLab, where I studied thymic tissue from mice exposed to microgravity. I look forward to studying life sciences at the University of Toronto and having the opportunity to conduct research at the University’s many groundbreaking labs and connect with current medical students and professionals as I explore my own path as an aspiring physician and researcher.

In high school, I created an app that enables American Sign Language (ASL) users to better access digital communication tools like Zoom. The app won the 2022 Congressional App Challenge and was recognized by MIT Solv[ED] as a 2023 Global Innovator Solution. I also avidly participate in Model UN, enjoying debates centering around global health and bioethics. Outside of the life sciences, I am curious about philosophy and international relations. I also enjoy rock climbing, martial arts, anything involving food (cooking, exploring restaurants, trying to perfect a croissant recipe), nerding out about Formula 1, and spending time with friends and family.

Gregório Pozzo

St. Paul’s School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op International Development Studies

Hi! My name is Gregório Pozzo and it is an enormous honour for me to be joining the community of Pearson Scholars!

I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, mostly by my mother, who had always taught me that knowledge is our most valuable asset, and that it is only through sharing that knowledge can it make itself truly precious. Motivated by this curiosity, I decided to embark on a selective process for a scholarship at St. Paul’s School, where I had access to esteemed qualifications such as the IGCSE and the IB, and I got in.

During my entire life, I have always sought to capacitate myself to be better for other people, rather than being better than other people. In order to achieve that, I have been involved in a plethora of activities related to politics and community service, such as Code Kids, a project focused on teaching Python for children in a public school in São Paulo, Mãos na Massa, an NGO focused on building houses for individuals with disabilities, Model UN, and a work shadowing experience at the Brazilian Red Cross, where I was able to work directly with people in situations of social vulnerability.

In 2023, inspired by the experience I acquired while in the Red Cross, I also founded my own social project, Project Humanise, focused on the gathering of resources and materials for humanitarian aid organizations.

I have always thought that the answers to the most relevant questions are not located in a single place, and I believe that U of T will help me in the search for the answers that I am currently looking for. Definitely, U of T will capacitate me to contribute to a better world, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Lavinia Ricca

The Godolphin and Latymer School
Italian student studying in the United Kingdom

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

Hello! My name is Lavinia. I was raised in Milan and London, two vibrant international communities brimming with vitality and diversity.

Nurturing my passion for the intricate, infinitesimal enigmas of life through the lens of biology and chemistry, I have come to find something so exciting in the notion that there is always more to discover, even within the most elusive of details. Sharing this fascination has developed into my foremost purpose, both inside and outside of school. I have had the privilege of working as a volunteer primary school teaching assistant, as well as a tutor and Managing Director for Mentor Junior, a non-profit that provides free educational support to disadvantaged students across the globe. As a competitive swimmer for over ten years and national medalist, I hope to apply the same resilience and resolve that I have fostered through my athletic pursuits to a career in biomedical research.

I am honoured and thrilled to be a 2024 Lester B. Pearson Scholar, and wish to express my deepest gratitude for this opportunity. I truly cannot wait to continue this journey of growth, exploration and service among some of today’s most inspiring minds.

Emma Marguerite Rouse

St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Life Sciences

I have always had a fascination with biology. Having the privilege of growing up in the Caribbean, allowed me to spend my formative years marvelling at the miscellany of life in front of me. I believe that it is only natural that my sense of wonder and awe in the world around me, ignited a passion within me to understand the intricate tapestry of life.

My name is Emma Rouse, I am 19 years old and I’m from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I intend to pursue my interest in biological sciences by studying biochemistry at the University of Toronto this fall.

My love of science has extended far beyond just academic pursuits. Teaching mathematics and science at the primary school level has allowed me to pass on my sense of curiosity and love of STEM to a new generation of students. Additionally, interning at a medical laboratory has allowed me to use my knowledge base outside of a classroom setting to help patients while appreciating the biochemical pathways of the tests that I carried out.

I have always taken pride in making an impact within my community. Working as an advocate for the rights of children across the Caribbean, Canada, Central and South America has allowed me to help amplify the voices of the most vulnerable members of society. As a member of the La Gracia Dance Company I have connected with my culture and heritage while representing my country on an international scale. Furthermore, through the St. Vincent/Isle of Mann Educational Program, I was able to represent my school and country as a youth ambassador in the United Kingdom and connect with groundbreaking people across a variety of fields.

I am deeply honoured and filled with gratitude to be a recipient of this scholarship. I hope that as a Pearson Scholar I can continue this pattern and make an impact in research and development of biochemistry. I also aim to inspire young people, particularly from the Caribbean, to reach for goals further than what they may have previously considered realistic. I am appreciative of the doors of opportunity that this scholarship has opened and I am ecstatic to begin my journey as a student of the University of Toronto!

Moosa Usman Saeed

Lahore Grammar School, Johar Town

University of Toronto Mississauga, Life Sciences

Hi! My name is Moosa Usman Saeed, and I am an A-Level student at LGS JT from Lahore, Pakistan.

As a person obsessed with wave-particle duality, let me use the Plutchik colors (photons of different wavelengths) to introduce myself.

I love to tackle Rubik’s cubes in my spare time, lighting my life up in (orange) anticipation when considering the 43×1018 possibilities to solve it in less than 20 seconds.

I enjoyed immense euphoria when I managed Innoventions, a national-level science Olympiad, navigating through the yellows of creating new questions, managing sponsors, and organizing a game night.

While shining ultraviolet rays onto the microarray, I researched selective toxicity in cancer cells and the prevalence of the HCV Virus in conjunction with other diseases, exploring amazement (blue) at the promising results of my hypothesis.

I combat the purplish boredom by building Legos or explaining quantum mechanics with the use of simple bar charts.“My awe (sea-green) and interest (peach) in the miracle called life, as well as my rage (red) at the inequalities, have often led me to venture and volunteer to enact change for the underprivileged and special people.

The sadness I feel due to the disparity between the provision of medical facilities has fuelled my (golden) purpose to amalgamate biology and technology to redefine healthcare safeguards, ensuring the security of every heartbeat.

With that, I am extremely thankful to be chosen as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and aim to explore the range of colors UofT provides. I hope to meet all of you this fall.

Johan Varghese Sajan

Fahaheel Al-Watanieh Indian Private School
Indian student studying in Kuwait

University of Toronto Mississauga, Social Sciences

Greetings! It is with absolute elation that I introduce myself as one of the latest break-ins to the Pearson Scholars Community. My name is Johan, and I trace my roots to Kerala, in India, as well as the boiling middle eastern country of Kuwait.

As a thorough enthusiast of all things global, I find myself frequenting the international relations scene often. With a marked passion for government and economics and the various nuances of their intersection, I’m constantly driven to equip my academia to best serve the community extending around the world. It was in this context that I rose to hone my leadership in a manner to give effect to my causes. Blossoming in school, I was elected Head Boy for an unbroken record of three times while simultaneously building and launching the largest national MUN conference as Secretary-General of FMUN. These foundations further aided my independent efforts to collaborate with reputed NGO’s such as Hidden Voices and Save Our Souls Village, wherein I worked to provide quality education to the underprivileged. However, extending beyond my academic reverie is my off-hand love for piano and a piqued interest in debate, public speaking, and writing, having secured international accolades for the supra. Cricket, outdoors, and classical music (old soul here) are my go-to relaxants.

Ice-breakers aside, I am honored to be a recipient of this award and equally thrilled to make the University of Toronto my alma mater. I aspire for U of T to be a stepping stone to enhance my ability to impact the ever-shrinking world around me, while striving to be a student they pride in.

Aaliyan Shaikh

Karachi American School

University of Toronto Mississauga, Commerce

Hello everyone! My name is Aaliyan Shaikh, and I am from a metropolitan city in Pakistan that has an array of unique opportunities, distinct cultures, and rich traditions embedded in the local community. As a trilingual person who specializes in English, French, and Urdu, I am keen on providing diverse perspectives to the vibrant community at the University of Toronto.

In the pursuit of receiving my education from the Karachi American School, which gave me the privilege of a quality education and a platform to shape my future goals, my journey wasn’t possible without the support of my family, teachers, and peers, who stood with me at all times. With my passion to create an inclusive environment, I led a social-emotional learning program at my school, which gave each student a chance to reflect on their academic journey and share more aspects of their personal identity.

I have spent my time in different charitable organizations raising awareness for education, providing peer tutoring in subjects ranging from accounting to the basic principles of business management, and giving full academic support to orphans and children with special needs. As an independent student writer, I have marketed and proposed ways of fostering sustainable growth in the face of the socio-economic challenges of developed and developing nations. I am honored to have been awarded the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship. With this incredible opportunity, I am motivated to form a link between education and a successful future for others through Mississauga’s Commerce program. Just as education opened different pathways for me, I will place my full effort into opening those doors for the upcoming youth as well.

Fernanda Heyeon Sin

Escola Americana de Campinas

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

Hello! My name is Fernanda and I was born in Brazil to Korean parents. I have spent my life navigating between these two worlds – the laid-back Brazilian culture and the stricter Korean culture.

Due to my familiarity with these heritages and languages, I was able to form bridges between the Brazilian and Korean communities at my school. These constant interactions over time have cultivated in me a natural instinct to embrace other cultures and ideologies, seen in my active participation in student orientations. My avid support for diversity also developed my curiosity towards new contrasting paradigms. I express such genuine interest for learning and exploration through my artistic endeavors, enthusiastically dedicating my time to improving my skills and investigating conceptual and philosophical matters in my artworks.

Beyond my academic and artistic involvements, I was honored to lead a project in which I combined both my passion for knowledge and the arts in order to design an educational comic book for a children’s cancer hospital. I realized that this dedication towards my community was exactly what I hoped to achieve in my future. By enrolling in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture and becoming a Pearson Scholar, I will be able to pursue a career in architecture in which I can continue to foster deep connections with other cultures and constantly work towards a better world. I aspire to learn beyond the intricacies of structures; I seek to understand how to build diverse and accepting communities.

I am honored to receive the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship and express great gratitude for the University of Toronto for granting me this opportunity. I am immensely excited to join Pearson Scholars and embark on this journey to expand my academic and cultural horizons, hopefully gathering enough knowledge to one day benefit my own community.

Isabelle Sarah Suski

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School
Massachusetts, United States of America

Faculty of Arts and Science, Victoria College, Life Sciences

Hi everyone! My name is Isabelle (or Izzy, for short) and I am from Massachusetts in the United States. I love spending time with my friends, dancing, painting, and working with children.

As for many, my life was interrupted in 2020, when a surgery I needed was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a stay in the ICU and many months in the hospital my future was uncertain. It was during this difficult time that I first learned about the University of Toronto: the surgeon that saved my life is an accomplished graduate. Inspired by her and my entire dedicated and caring medical team, I became interested in studying medicine.

The journey from the hospital back to my home, classes, and the dance stage was a difficult one, but a driven one. I realized that without world-class health care and the support of my family and community, I wouldn’t be here. Dance especially became my lifeline to rebuilding physical and emotional strength and endurance.

I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to my community and mentor younger dancers as a dance team captain and teaching assistant. I also committed myself to helping others in similar situations by co-founding a non-profit to support pediatric patients and their families; by becoming co-president of a school club dedicated to improving accessibility for students with disabilities; by studying immunology through a virtual research program; and by undertaking studies about international affairs as a global scholar at my high school.

At U of T, I hope to learn how genetics, infections, and biologic processes can trigger autoimmune diseases and how better immunotherapies can be developed. I am excited to be joining students and faculty from around the world and appreciate this tremendous opportunity to learn, make new friends, and lay the foundations for a career in medicine, research, or health policy. It is a tremendous honor to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and I am very humbled to be a part of this group of amazing students.

Kyaw Thiha

IIP International School

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Computer Science

Mingalar par! (Hello in my native language). I am Kyaw Thiha (Kevin) and have completed my IGCSE and A-Levels at Institute of International Professionalism(IIP), located in my home country of Myanmar.

I aspire to become a tech entrepreneur who will innovate on creating positive changes to our world. Whenever presented with real-world problems, I have always used my technological expertise to attempt solving them. During my internship at school, I witnessed firsthand the high work burden placed on my teachers when it comes to grading their students’ worksheets. Thus, I am currently working on AceGrader – a website that uses AI to automatically grade the worksheets with minimal input, potentially saving hundreds of hours for teachers.

My time volunteering at Mary Chapman School for Deaf opened my eyes on the difficulties faced by the deaf community due to the language barrier. Driven by my deep desire to improve the livelihood of the deaf community, I attempted to create a sign language translator by using computer vision technology but my lack of experience in machine learning held me back from the success of this project.

Therefore, I am extremely honored to receive the prestigious award of becoming a Pearson Scholar and would like to express my gratitude towards the University of Toronto. Pursuing undergraduate studies in UofT will equip me with the necessary machine learning and AI concepts I need in order to achieve my dream of shaping our world into becoming a better place, by harnessing the full potential of technology.

Albina Turakpayeva

Haileybury Almaty

University of Toronto Scarborough, Co-op Physical & Environmental Sciences

“Salemetsiz be’ and Hello! My name is Albina, and I attend Haileybury Almaty, a UK A-Level school located in Kazakhstan’s city of apples and mountains, Almaty.

Growing up in a village and reading my grandmother’s physics books, I always wondered about space and stars. Therefore, sailing through the universe has always been my greatest dream. This enthusiasm led me to participate in a nanosatellite course UNISAT run by KazNU Al Farabi University and UNICEF when I was 16. This brush with near space means that I am thrilled to begin my bachelor’s degree in astrophysics at the University of Toronto Scarborough!

Honing my skills, I utilised the UNISAT experience to start the all-girl rocketry and satellite club, HALSAT. I aspired to provide opportunities for girls to participate in STEM projects to tackle the wide gender disparity in science in Central Asia. Therefore, in the first year, I recruited 20 female students to try something new in HALSAT. This initiative had tremendous results: our team successfully launched a nanosatellite to the stratosphere by weather balloon to measure PM particles in the air of the Almaty region and simultaneously launched a group of ambitious girls on their path to STEM success.

In conclusion, being a leader is not a job but an opportunity to promote positive change and leave an impact by demonstrating soft and hard skills. Therefore, I am deeply grateful to be a Lester B. Pearson Scholar and am determined to make the most of this opportunity to benefit our worldwide community.

Mariana Vazquez Roman

Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Campus Ciudad de México

University of Toronto Mississauga, Life Sciences

Hey! I’m Mariana, a passionate, active, and curious Mexican girl who loves biology. As a little kid, I would always dream about the future and the inventions I would make when I grew older. Now I understand some of what those crazy dreams were about. I discovered my passion during the pandemic; it was a time when reading and taking online courses occupied most of my time. Here, I found out about gene therapies, transgenic animals, products made out of genetically modified bacteria, etc. Since then, I knew I wanted to study something related to genetics. Later, I got the chance to enroll in the IB Higher Level Biology class. I used my new knowledge to design soy yogurt using a particular bacterial strain as well as a fiber made out of orange peel, which I am currently working on.

I’m also a sportsperson; I like running long distances. I even completed the 2023 Mexico City marathon and have participated in several long-distance races. In addition to this, I enjoy cooking and creating new recipes using dishes from my favorite cuisines. I also love taking care of my garden here in Mexico City, the place where I live and grew up (the photo background is from my favorite spot in the neighborhood, La Fuente de Los Coyotes, Coyoacán).

Finally, I also enjoy learning new languages and meeting people from around the world. That is why I am extremely excited to attend U of T and meet other Pearson Scholars as well as all the talented minds that will surely come across. I am extremely grateful to the Pearson Scholarship committee for giving me a spot in their program, and to my parents, friends, counselors, and teachers for supporting me throughout the entire journey.

¡Nos estamos viendo!

Cailan Grace Wooten

Ritenour High School
Missouri, United States of America

Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, Social Sciences

Hello! My name is Cailan Wooten. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States.

Growing up as a relatively stubborn kid, my favorite question was always, ‘Why?’. Why do we do things the way we do? Why are things the way they are? Why do we let it happen? In response, I would often get the infamous, ‘because life isn’t fair’.

Well, coming from an under-resourced school district, I’m all too familiar with this philosophy. Despite having the same students with the same capabilities, talents, and passions, a school district just across city lines would have ultimately many more opportunities for academic success and future prosperity than mine, just because of where it was located. Constantly, we’d have to work ten times harder just to get to the same place as someone else in a slightly different zip code.

Yes, life isn’t fair, but I want to live with a better philosophy, one where I believe that we cannot accept it, one where we must then work to make it fair. That’s why I became the first student representative on my city council for my school district, because student voice is what fuels a community. It’s why I worked as an executive with the St. Louis chapter of INTEGIRLS, where we hold math competitions for girls, because women are often forced out of STEM. It’s why, in every facet of my life, I am dedicated to having difficult conversations about the things no one talks about.

I became passionate about politics not just because it was interesting, but because it affected every aspect of me and my loved one’s lives. I am incredibly grateful and humbled to be selected as a Lester B. Pearson Scholar. At the University of Toronto, I am interested in majoring in sociology to continue on my journey of making life just a little more fair, and I am deeply excited to do so alongside a diverse and passionate community.