Mount Allison’s Martha Pitre selected as a 2022 McCall MacBain Scholar

13 Apr 2022

In late March, Mount Allison University student Martha Pitre (BA ’22) had the unique opportunity to join aspiring leaders from across Canada at McCall MacBain Scholarship final interviews in Montréal.

“The four-day experience was rich with learning, growth, new perspectives, and new friends,” Pitre says. “The focus of the weekend was on reflection and learning, which I really enjoyed. The highlight of my experience was getting to meet the other finalists, who were all incredibly inspiring. I loved hearing about everyone’s unique experiences and aspirations.”

Upon her return to Sackville, Pitre received a life-changing video call from John McCall MacBain and the scholarship staff — she had been chosen as a McCall MacBain Scholar.

“I was working on my undergraduate thesis when I got the call,” she adds. “Given how exceptional I found all the other candidates to be, I genuinely wasn’t expecting a ‘yes.’ It was an incredible shock to me, and I remember just staring blankly at the Zoom window with the biggest smile on my face. I felt so overwhelmed and grateful in the moment that I’m convinced I wasn’t even stringing full sentences together for Mr. McCall MacBain and Natasha. It only felt real when I called to tell my dad. I felt so happy to share that moment with him.”

Pitre will join a class of 20 scholars, chosen from nearly 700 Canadian applicants through a rigorous seven-month process involving two rounds of interviews. She is the first Mount Allison student to receive this award and the only New Brunswick recipient.

As a McCall MacBain Scholar, she will pursue a fully-funded master’s degree at McGill University while connecting with mentors and participating in an intensive leadership development program. The scholarship funding covers the program’s tuition and fees, as well as a living stipend of $2,000 per month.

Mount Allison University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Jean-Paul Boudreau says Pitre is an exceptional choice.

“Martha is an accomplished student leader, both in her academics as a McKenna Scholar in our PPE program and in her extracurricular activities, as current Editor-in-Chief of The Argosy, Mount Allison’s independent student newspaper,” he says. “She will be an excellent addition to the McCall MacBain programs. I congratulate her on behalf of the entire Mount Allison community.”

Pitre is in her final year of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program at Mount Allison. As editor-in-chief of The Argosy, she worked to improve the student newspaper’s distribution plan, host community-building events, increase its online presence, and implement a new internal communications plan. Pitre also contributes to the Atlantic Journal of International Studies, organizes events for her program’s student society, and facilitates an activism-focused book club.

She works part-time as a teaching assistant at the University and as an intern with the International Institute for Child Rights and Development. As a McCall MacBain Scholar, she will begin a Master of Arts in Political Science at McGill.

Pitre credits Mount Allison with preparing her for this opportunity.

“Mount Allison is uniquely suited to preparing students for opportunities like this one. The professors genuinely care about your development as a person, not just a student. Their insights have been invaluable to me as a first-generation grad student with no prior understanding of the post-graduate system,” she says. “I am deeply grateful for their wisdom, their guidance, and their patience with me. The institution also prioritizes community engagement through experiential learning opportunities, which has benefited me enormously. Being a Mount Allison student is a privilege, in this respect.”

“We need inclusive, collaborative, and forward-thinking leaders in all sectors and fields,” says John McCall MacBain, who, together with his wife, Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, created these scholarships through a historic gift to McGill University. “With this scholarship, students will expand their networks, deepen their leadership skills, and benefit from full funding to pursue their dreams of improving their communities — and the world. Congratulations to these students and the hundreds of candidates across Canada who were considered for this scholarship.”

Each scholar was chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity.

“Our new scholars have taken different paths towards this moment and will contribute unique perspectives to the scholarship community,” says Natasha Sawh, Dean of the McCall MacBain Scholarships. “The selection committees looked for leadership potential, a willingness to engage with diverse perspectives, and traits like empathy, integrity, and grit. Our process incorporates a wide range of volunteer readers and interviewers, who understand the candidates and their varied experiences.”

More than 130 Canadian leaders volunteered their time to help select McCall MacBain Scholars. They reviewed nearly 700 applications, interviewed 146 students regionally, and invited 50 to a final set of interviews, which took place in March.

Learning to lead with purpose

The scholarship enables students to pursue a fully funded master’s or professional degree at McGill University while connecting with mentors and participating in an intensive leadership development program. Mentors for the first cohort include pediatric emergency physician Joanne Liu, urban design advocate Ken Greenberg, and Nova Scotia supreme court judge Diane Rowe.

Built to last

The McCall MacBain Scholarships are the result of a historic $200-million gift to McGill University, which at the time was the largest single donation in Canadian history. The scholarships are planned to continue in perpetuity and will expand this year to include students from around the world. Information sessions for the first global cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars are currently underway, and applications will open in June.

In addition to selecting 20 McCall MacBain Scholars, the McCall MacBain Scholarships program and McGill University have offered 54 entrance awards of $5,000 or $10,000 each to promising candidates. Altogether, this year’s 74 scholarships represent an estimated commitment of nearly $2 million in tuition and living costs alone, which will be complemented by mentorship and leadership development programming.

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