Conversations with McCall MacBain Scholars: Amanda Sears

In the Reporter's ongoing series of Q&As, members of the inaugural cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars reflect upon a ground-breaking year
“My experience as a scholar has been excellent,” says Amanda Sears. “Without a doubt, being a McCall MacBain scholar is the most life-changing experience I have ever had.”

This past fall, the first cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars arrived at McGill to begin their fully funded master’s or professional degrees.

 Launched in February 2019, by a landmark $200-million gift from John and Marcy McCall MacBain, the McCall MacBain Scholarship provides mentorship, coaching, and a leadership curriculum, while covering tuition and fees, as well as providing a living stipend of $2,000 per month.

Each member of that first cohort was chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity. They are a diverse group, representing a wide range of interests and experience, ambitions and motivations.

With the 2021-2022 academic year drawing to a close, we caught up with members of that trail-blazing cohort of Scholars and asked them to reflect upon their ground-breaking experience.

As part of our Conversations with McCall MacBain Scholars series, we spoke with Amanda Sears who is pursuing a Master of Arts in Philosophy (Bioethics) at McGill.

Sears served as editor-in-chief of York University Glendon’s bilingual student newspaper, managing a team of 13, and helped edit the undergraduate international studies journal. She worked part-time throughout her studies as a barista, server, and research assistant. Amanda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from York University and worked in Montréal before applying for the McCall MacBain Scholarships.

Where were you born and raised?

Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario.

What is your field of interest and when did you start developing your interest in it? Did you have any mentors along the way?

I am interested in biomedical ethics, which I approach from a philosophy background. My mentor in philosophy was Professor Andrée-Anne Cormier at Glendon College, York University.

What was your reaction when you found out you had been selected as a McCall MacBain Scholar?

I was in total shock for days after. I didn’t completely believe it until we were put in touch with our fellow scholars.

What has been your favourite part of becoming a McCall MacBain Scholar?

The people: my fellow scholars, the McCall MacBain Scholarships team, and the network.

Who are the other McCall MacBain Scholars? How does the diversity of the cohort add to your experience as a graduate student at McGill?

My fellow scholars have become my Montreal family. It’s a very interdisciplinary group, so we draw a lot from each other’s knowledge base in the leadership development sessions.

What is the leadership development program like? What was your favourite session or learning moment?

The leadership development sessions often involve case studies of real decisions that leaders we meet have faced in their careers. We workshop potential solutions before learning how the case unfolded in practice.

Who is your mentor and what are they like? What are you hoping to get out of the mentoring relationship and other connections made through the scholarship program?

My mentor is Canadian novelist Kim Echlin. Kim is endlessly brilliant and down-to-earth. She has been a great resource while I navigate my Masters.

Can you tell us about the professional coaching you receive? What do you do with your coach?

All of the scholars receive professional life coaching as part of the scholarship program. The coaches are great at helping us navigate our personal development and the challenges of graduate school.

Overall, how would you describe your experience in the scholarship program so far?

My experience as a scholar has been excellent. Without a doubt, being a McCall MacBain scholar is the most life-changing experience I have ever had.

What kinds of people do you think should apply for this program? What would you say to those prospective applicants?

If you are a compassionate, curious person with an interest in leadership, I would strongly encourage you to apply to the scholarship. Be ready to go all in!

What are your future plans?

I’m currently branching out to do more policy work.

Learn more about the McCall MacBain Scholarships program


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Frikot Mulatu
1 year ago

It is a very nice opportunity to apply