From left: USask students Lauren O’Reilly and Sharon Jacob. (Photos: Submitted)
From left: USask students Lauren O’Reilly and Sharon Jacob. (Photos: Submitted)

USask student finalist for prestigious global scholarship

A second University of Saskatchewan (USask) student has been awarded a regional scholarship.

A University of Saskatchewan (USask) student is a finalist for the McCall MacBain Scholarship, Canada’s largest leadership-based scholarship for master’s and professional studies.

Having been successful in the award selection process, in the weeks ahead Lauren O’Reilly will attend final interviews in Montreal. She is among 90 finalists chosen from more than 700 Canadians who applied for the scholarships.

Of those, 159 participated in a first round of regional interviews in November and December. During that process, another USask student was among the top candidates in the McCall MacBain Scholarships selection process. Sharon Jacob earned a $5,000 McCall MacBain Regional Award, which may be applied to eligible studies at any public university in Canada.

Finalists were chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity – qualities the community needs, noted Dr. Airini, provost and vice-president academic at USask.

“Lauren and Sharon exemplify excellence, not only in the classroom, but in their communities and on a global stage,” said Airini. “Two of our students achieving this kind of success is testament to USask’s commitment to developing the next generation of distinguished leaders the world needs.”

O’Reilly is finishing her bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy, all while working as a bartender, teaching assistant, and research assistant. She helped reboot the philosophy student society, played ringette competitively for 14 years, and helped coached a summer sports program. While working at a local foundation, O’Reilly led a team organizing a 250-person event for Saskatoon Multiculturalism Day, and created a community journalism program for youth. For her master’s degree, O’Reilly would like to explore her interests in political thought and political economy.

“I choose to volunteer my time on campus because I believe that community-building is an integral feature of your university experience,” said O’Reilly. “Cultivating welcoming spaces is important across all academic disciplines, and I am eager to help contribute to that.”

The scholarships are the result of a landmark $200 million gift by John and Marcy McCall MacBain in 2019, then the largest single donation in Canadian history.

Designed to encourage purposeful leadership, the scholarships enable students to pursue a fully funded master’s or professional degree at McGill University while participating in mentorship, coaching, and a leadership development program.

“Integrity, kindness, curiosity, and courage are the characteristics we want to see in the next generation of leaders,” said Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain (PhD), chair of the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill. “By connecting emerging talent to an outstanding graduate education and a community of peers and mentors, we hope to encourage positive leadership for Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the world.”

A cohort of up to 30 McCall MacBain Scholars will be selected after final interviews. Canadian finalists who are not selected for the cohort will be eligible to receive a $10,000 Finalist Award.

Applications will open in June 2024 for the 2025 cohort. In addition to the 30 fully funded McCall MacBain Scholarships each year, up to 100 additional awards, valued at $5,000 to $20,000, are offered to candidates. More information about the McCall MacBain Scholarships can be found at

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