Article originally from UAlberta International News

Funding opens new doors for student leaders to impact global issues in environment and health

The 2018 round of funding from the Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) will create new opportunities for Canadian UAlberta students to build leadership skills in a variety of global settings.

QES announced on February 22 that $5.8M has been awarded to successful proposals at 20 universities across the country with an aim to “cultivate the next generation of global leadership.”

On the list of approved projects is UAlberta’s Securing Our Shared Global Future: Student Leadership for Change, which will establish placements for 43 Canadian students to intern abroad in locations including Ghana, Kenya, India, United Kingdom, and Australia. Each student selected to participate will receive a $6,000 CAD guaranteed scholarship towards the experience.

This funding is the fourth QES scholarship program awarded to UAlberta. In 2017, the Faculty of Nursing secured funding under the QES Advanced Scholars program for partnerships between Ghana and Canada to address maternal, newborn and child health. Previously in 2015, QES awarded funding for students to participate in two programs: The Global Generation: Energy and Environment Network Internships and Improving Individual and Community Wellness in the Commonwealth. Under these two programs, more than 80 students have been sent on placements around the world.

This year’s project will enable placement opportunities in the areas of environment and health, which will be delivered in a variety of cultural and academic contexts ranging in nature and scope.

Opportunities for the next generation of global leaders

QES opens up valuable lifelong learning opportunities for students, not only in the realm of academics but also in global citizenship and intercultural experience. Lindsey Johnson, a School of Business student, pursued her QES experience in Tanzania, living in the city of Moshi and traveling to Boma N’Gombe, developing a website for the Nronga Women Dairy Cooperative Society.

“It is not without the generous support of the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program that I would be doing the work I am in this incredible country,” Johnson says. “The cooperative sought my advice each week on different business activities- everything from labeling their products to the expansion of their school milk program. It was an incredible experience working here. My colleagues were very kind, and I learned so much from them… I am now even able to speak a little Swahili!”

“We are very happy and proud that UAlberta has been successful in all four rounds of the Queen Elizabeth II funding program,” shared Britta Baron,Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (International). “This program has given us an opportunity to deepen relationships with some of our long-established partner universities from around the world,” explaining that partner university hosts work closely with student interns to facilitate their placement needs and support with logistics and settling in upon arrival.

“So far close to 100 UAlberta students have been able to undertake a funded internship in another Commonwealth country with the help of the QES program, adds Baron.  “The students engage in experiential learning with initiatives that address major global challenges, especially relating to Energy/Environment and Community Health as well as Nursing. We see a growing trend with UAlberta students who increasingly seek placements for internships, volunteering and co-ops in another country. Last year, UAI has facilitated 112 international internship placements for UAlberta students.”

Customized experiences in unique locations

Each QES location offers its own customized, unique context for students to expand their leadership skills while pursuing valuable projects focused on driving change in local communities.

Ammar Ghalab, an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Science describes the QES experience he undertook in his third year as life-changing. Ghalab participated in a research internship at the University of Western Australia exploring methods for using genomics and supercomputing to protect crops in Sub-Sarahan Africa from whitefly devastation.

“It has opened up the world in my eyes,” enthuses Ghalab. “After coming to Australia and living there for three months on my own, I feel that I can travel to any country and accomplish great things. I only wish I had gone on this internship earlier in my university career.”

QES internships are particularly an excellent chance to kick-start or further one’s global ambitions with regards to future research, building professional networks and career development. Interns also become lifelong members of the prestigious QES network, gaining access to a worldwide community of young leaders who  engage with each other before, during, and after the program for cross-cultural exchanges, peer mentoring, knowledge sharing, and more.

New locations and opportunities launched in partnership with Aga Khan University 

One of the new partners that this QES project brings on board is The Aga Khan University, which will offer placements in a variety of countries where they operate, including Kenya and India. Building on a strong, 10+ year relationship between UAlberta and AKU, the collaboration will connect students with opportunities such as building capacity in medical schools, conducting health research, capacity development, and more, in dynamic environments that promote personal engagement and growth.

“The Aga Khan University’s International Internship Programme aims to challenge the way students define internships and to provide a learning experience that goes beyond a simple work experience,” explains Farzana Karim-Haji, Director University Partnerships, Aga Khan University.

“The goal of the program is to encourage students to think outside of the box, to develop leadership skills, to learn new ways of doing things, to think on their feet and to be immersed in an environment, that is vastly different from their own.”

QES opportunities are offered with varying time frames over the year and are open to UAlberta students in all faculties.

UAlberta International’s Education Abroad Advisors at the International Services Centre are available to sit down with students and explore the options to find an international experience that is a strong match for their interests and career aspirations.

Explore UAlberta QES Opportunities

For more information:

Ciara Murrin, International Internship Coordinator
University of Alberta International