The Lester B. Pearson Scholarship

We are delighted to announce that Mary Grynevych (Upper Sixth) has been awarded the Lester B. Pearson Scholarship by the University of Toronto.  As part of her written application, Mary was asked to describe a personal life experience that had particular significance for her.  She was to highlight the reason(s) it was significant, whether it had an impact on others, and any insights or understandings she gained from it.  Mary was kind enough to share her entry with us as well as supply some images.


I was 2 when the Orange Revolution happened. 9 years later the country was shaken by the Revolution of Dignity. The instability of Ukraine could have been explained by just one thing: people tried to protect their right to democracy. In February we started the fight for our territory in the East. Especially vividly, I remember how one day in Grade 6, instead of having the last class, our whole year group went to the main street of our town to meet the hearses with a dead soldier, on our knees and with the candles in our hands. Now, the noun “war” is a part of the colloquial language. Those, who were not on the frontlines, tried to help in other ways. The Russian-Ukrainian war displaced 1.5 million people and more than 10 thousand were injured or dead. Orphans, widows, single parents, disabled, elderly – all these people relied on the help of volunteers.

When I was 13, I joined the local charity fund as a volunteer myself. Our main task was to sort plastic lids collected at schools and different places: blue to blue, green to green. It seemed so simple but we handed them over for recycling, and the money withdrawn was used to buy veterans’ prostheses. After a while, we joined the international social project – “Children for Peace All over the World”. Children created the “maps of the peace”which were maps, countries made of paper doves with written wishes about peace, safe homes and a bright future.The countries involved included all EU-member states, the Vatican, San Marino and many others. 


Finally, as a volunteer of peace, I joined the Ukrainian delegation of children who were affected by the war for a trip to Europe. The main purposes were to attend official diplomatic meetings and fundraise for humanitarian aid. The highlight of the trip was the personal audience with the Pope, the Sovereign Order of Malta and the President of San-Marino. We led discussions about the potential uses of humanitarian aid in an effective way.

I can confidently say that this experience had a major significance in my life, as it changed my perception of the world and my identity. The weight of responsibility as a messenger on such a sensitive topic at such a young age made me realize the relevance of international relations and political dialogue. The world proved to be an incredibly small place yet so diverse. I have met incredible people affected by the horror of wars but who stayed optimistic for their future and those around them. I have heard the story of how people started a new life on a different side of the country with only backpacks in their hands. 


It did not just happen in Ukraine, it is happening now, at this moment, all over the world. The humanitarian aid we collected, saved or improved the lives of thousands, helped with the integration of the internally displaced refugees in the local communities, provided them with jobs and means of survival. In its eighth year, we can say that those events brought unity to the country but the thought of danger lives constantly in the back of our minds.

I have realized that I want to help others. I consider myself a global citizen and with every action or important achievement I ask myself what impact it would have on those around me. Coming from a small town and an average Ukrainian family, I witnessed my own struggles but I have always used my intelligence and strong will to change the community I live in. I mastered foreign languages to communicate with others, traveled the world and participated in cultural exchanges to embrace the differences and learn from others. I started my own volunteer organization to solve the problems in the community. I moved to the other part of the world to receive a world-class education while being the child of parents who never went to college. 

The IB Program taught me how to be a critical thinker and helped me to understand that Economics is a field where I can help developing countries by bringing security and prosperity, and where every real-world issue is analysed through a lens of scarcity, choice, efficiency, equity, economic well-being, sustainability, change, interdependence and intervention. 

As a confident leader and team worker, I have learned to see each difficulty as an opportunity for growth. The economists of the 21st century have a chance to help direct changes in society into gains for everyone, which I want to contribute to. In my past, change often brought uncertainty, but this time it is my door to the future: your university will provide me with an excellent chance to learn and become a successful professional in the field.



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