Three LAUers in the Running for Global McCall MacBain Scholarships

Hedi Jaza, Zina Kamel and Rassel Narsh have reached the final stage of interviews for the highly competitive scholarship that covers graduate education at McGill University.

By Editorial Staff

(From L): Rassel Narsh, Hedi Jaza and Zina Kamel.

LAU senior students Hedi Jaza, Zina Kamel and Rassel Narsh are gearing up to travel to Montreal next month to interview for the McCall MacBain Scholarships, Canada’s largest leadership-based scholarships for master’s and professional studies.

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. The scholarships are the result of a landmark C$200 million gift made in 2019 by John and Marcy McCall MacBain, then the largest single donation in Canadian history, and McGill is ranked the 30th best university in the world by QS World University Rankings 2024.

The three LAUers have gone through a rigorous selection process to make it this far. They are among 37 international finalists from around the world and six from the MENA region to be shortlisted. Students and graduates from more than 2,250 universities worldwide initially applied for the scholarship, while 277 participated in the first round of regional interviews last fall. Since LAU’s International Services and Programs Office (ISP) collaborates with McGill, the office helped promote it and nominated high-achieving students, including the three finalists.

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

Jaza, from Bizerte, Tunisia, is studying mathematics at LAU as a U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Tomorrow’s Leaders (TL) scholar. He facilitates a live-broadcasting club, volunteers with a non-profit organization as a math tutor and supervisor and serves as a teaching assistant for math courses at LAU. Jaza also founded the North African Student Society, participated in MEPI TL leadership and debate committees, and contributed to a machine-learning research project. He hopes to pursue a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics to highlight and address the needs of marginalized communities.

“Campus life at LAU positioned me in a stimulating environment, rich in liberal arts, mathematics, and computer science, which shaped my analytical skills,” said Jaza. “Active involvement in social justice initiatives bridged the gap between academics with real-world issues, uniquely equipping me to achieve my future goals.”

Kamel, from Aleppo, Syria, is also a MEPI TL scholar at LAU, majoring in computer science. For several years, she has taught weekly English classes for Syrian refugee students and led the Google Developer Club, where she helped deliver coding workshops. She is highly active in the technology community as an instructor and a Microsoft Student Ambassador. Kamel has also co-founded an award-winning online platform that helps local businesses navigate inflation, and worked as a software development engineering intern at Amazon. During her exchange term at Kent State University, she started an artificial intelligence student club. Kamel is applying for a master’s degree in computer science with the goal of using robotics to improve disaster relief efforts.

“As a MEPI TL scholar, I have been provided with support and educational opportunities to grow as a leader,” said Kamel. “This has empowered me to channel my passion for community service into impactful initiatives, addressing challenges with innovative solutions. I am thrilled to be selected as a finalist for the McCall MacBain Scholarship.”

Narsh, from Mount Lebanon, is an accounting and international business major. She is among the senior secretariat of the LAU Model Good Governance Program. She volunteered to gather stories about small businesses, as part of a civic engagement course and contributed to LAU Model United Nations conferences. Narsh also ran scholarship workshops for high-school students. She spent last summer working for KPMG accounting firm in Dubai and is interested in master’s programs in management and public policy.

Encouraging fellow students to apply for scholarship opportunities, Narsh said, “I initially applied because of the reputable educational system in Canada, especially at McGill, but I never expected to reach this stage in the interviews. Take a leap of faith! You may find yourself in the same position.”

Congratulating the students, LAU Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Elise Salem said that “they are exceptional in every way, and bring great pride to our university, their families and home countries.”

For Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, chair of the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill, “integrity, kindness, curiosity, and courage are the characteristics we want to see in the next generation of leaders. 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.”

“More than 300 senior volunteer leaders were involved in selecting this year’s finalists,” said Natasha Sawh, chief executive officer of the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill. “Our team is very much looking forward to welcoming the finalists —who have already distinguished themselves as the top candidates globally—to Montreal in March. We extend our warmest thanks to the universities that nominated them for this opportunity.”

A cohort of up to 30 McCall MacBain Scholars will be selected after final interviews. International finalists who are not selected for the cohort will be eligible to receive a $20,000 Finalist Award.

To learn more about the McCall MacBain Scholarships, visit the website.