A Beamsville student has won a prestigious scholarship to study at McGill University in Montreal after an intense seven-month interview process.
Will Stephenson, who graduated from Grimsby Secondary School in 2017 and is currently finishing an Integrated Business and Humanities program at McMaster, was one of only 20 recipients of the MacBain scholarship, out of a pool of 700 applicants.
He’s now set to start a Masters of Management and Analytics Program at McGill in July. He will have his tuition and fees covered, as well as a living stipend of $2,000 per month, mentorship, and a leadership development program.
Stephenson started the rigorous seven-month application process in August, which included a comprehensive written application and interviews in Toronto and Montreal.
“I applied to give it a go, but I was not sure what would come of it,” said Stephenson. “It was a really long process, but I’ve learned a lot about myself.”
Applicants were judged not only by their academic strength but also their character, community engagement, leadership potential, and entrepreneurial drive.
In his second year at McMaster, he was the director of the environmental sustainability club and recently he started managing the West Niagara Flying Aces, Beamsville’s local minor league hockey team.
He was also part of his program’s operating committee and participated in the business school’s debate club.
Stephenson said he didn’t follow some “grand, overarching plan” to get to where he is now, but instead he approached each opportunity with the mindset of “what could I do to experience new things? This could be a way to meet new people.”
This is just the second cohort of MacBain scholars, which Stephenson attributes to a fortunate twist of fate. “I got lucky with the year I was born in,” he said.
While he doesn’t have concrete plans for his future after the program, he wants to use his education to “empower non-profit organizations and social entrepreneurs” and “meet challenges both in Canada and around the world.”
Last September, he worked on a project with a Ugandan non-profit analyzing their microloan program, examining data that may have been overlooked. The team he worked with found a geographical disparity between the different loans in different areas, and they were able to present these findings to the microloan program.
“Maybe I’ll keep on a non-profit focused path,” said Stephenson, “but there are lots of paths available.”
Another potential interest is business ethics, especially when it comes to how businesses handle analytics.
He poses the question “as analytics become more and more capitalized, how do we ensure that they’re being handled ethically? How do we make sure that businesses are doing the right things, not just for their bottom line?”
While he may not know where he’s going after McGill, he’s keen to recognize those who helped him get here. He stressed the “immeasurable” support he received from his teachers, professors, friends and coaches, saying he felt “incredibly supported as an individual.”
“My time at Grimsby Secondary School really did set me up well,” he said. “I had such great teachers.”
Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News