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The Queen Elizabeth Scholars program supports the youth of today to become leaders of tomorrow.

We need global leadership and knowledge to strengthen the health and resiliency of our communities. The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (Queen Elizabeth Scholars) program brings together global leaders to support scholars as they work to solve the complex challenges of our world.

The Queen Elizabeth Scholars program is a project-based scholarship program involving inter-cultural exchanges that encompass international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences. Through a catalytic contribution by the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation and the generous support of a network of partners, today the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program is supporting a growing community of more than 2,000 scholars and building the next generation of global leaders.

During their program, students have the opportunity to further develop their field of study, work-integrated learning, research, leadership, networking, and community engagement skills. About 80 percent of participants are Canadians travelling abroad, while 20 percent are from other countries coming to Canada for stays ranging from three months to three years.

The actions youth have taken during the pandemic illuminate their strength as bold leaders, ambitious thinkers, and visionaries of tomorrow.

The idea for the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program came about in 2012 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. It’s a youth engagement program offered through Community Foundations of Canada, a national leadership organization for Canada’s 191 local community foundations, in collaboration with Rideau Hall Foundation and Universities Canada.

“At the Rideau Hall Foundation, we believe that every sector of Canada’s economy stands to benefit from the contributions and perspectives of the Queen Elizabeth Scholars,” says Teresa Marques, President and CEO of the Rideau Hall Foundation. “The Queen Elizabeth Scholars program allows youth to develop a global outlook, empathy, and understanding — all of which are essential for navigating the complexities of today’s world. The scholars we invest in today will become the leaders and relationship-builders of tomorrow.”

Investment in youth leadership more critical than ever

The recent challenges of the pandemic have showcased how a global community of scholars is making a difference in the world. “The actions youth have taken during the pandemic illuminate their strength as bold leaders, ambitious thinkers, and visionaries of tomorrow,” says Andrew Chunilall, CEO of Community Foundations of Canada.

These strengths will be critical to our future. “Now more than ever is the time to invest in new types of leaders,” says Chunilall. “Through the incredible foresight of global business leader and philanthropist Victor Dahdaleh, the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program continues to mobilize a community of young global leaders who are developing creative solutions for today’s complex challenges.”

Victor Dahdaleh’s leadership in promoting global experiences for youth comes at an opportune time. As we struggle through a global pandemic, cross-border cooperation is at the centre of how we can move forward.

Q&A with the Queen Elizabeth Scholar Recipients

Michele Monroy-Valle

From Guatemala, Mary is currently pursuing her doctorate in epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. Through the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program, she created a tool for measuring the outcomes of public health research projects.

What were the high points of the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program for you?

My work is community-based, so what I found amazing was the fact that the program lets you do hands-on research in the country that you visit. In addition to learning the appropriate research methodology and procedures, you also get to know the community, its values, and how the community uses the research.

How has the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program benefited the work you’re doing now?

It’s really built my confidence in talking to people and engaging them in the idea of research that can improve their programs. The data analysis I got to do through the program has given me new tools that I can communicate to the users. Thanks to this exposure I also feel more prepared to look for a job.

Why are programs like the Queen Elizabeth Scholars important?

We, public health professionals, tend to focus on getting educational programs in place without really focusing on the community’s values and behaviours. Then when they don’t get adopted or used, we blame the community. With the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program, you’re not only out in the field gathering data, you’re also in close contact with the community and learning what the community values are. That way you’re able to do research that’s useful to the community because you’re linking the science to the reality on the ground.

Olu Olugboji

From Nigeria, Olu was a Queen Elizabeth Scholar while pursuing his master’s in computer science at the University of Winnipeg.

Describe your experience as a Queen Elizabeth Scholar.

I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Scholars for incoming scholars in 2015 when I entered my master’s in computer science program. For my Queen Elizabeth Scholars, I did research and data analysis at Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg on how to make the staff scheduling more efficient. During that time, I also volunteered at the University of Winnipeg Food Bank and the Silver Mountain Correctional Centre, where I mentored some inmates.

How did the experience help what you’re doing now?

Being a Queen Elizabeth Scholar enabled me to expand my horizons and grow my network of connections, which has really benefited me in finding jobs post-graduation. Thanks to my experience and familiarity with medical data, I was able to join Manitoba Health shortly after graduation as a data analyst, and now I’m with the Canada Revenue Agency in Ottawa.

Why is it important to have programs like the Queen Elizabeth Scholars?

One, it helps with tuition and two, it helps you grow your connections. It also exposes you to volunteer opportunities, which can further help grow your connections. Even after you graduate, you are and will always remain a Queen Elizabeth Scholar, and just mentioning that opens doors wherever you go.

How else has the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program benefited you?

It also opened doors to other scholarships, which gave me some financial peace of mind and enabled me to focus on school.

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