Expanding horizons: Faculty students create new scholarship

Posted on Monday, October 24, 2022


Remember your undergraduate days? Making lifetime friends, exploring disciplines that shaped your future career, and experiencing the kinds of personal growth that only burgeoning independence can provide are likely top of mind.

What you might not recall so vividly were the financial pressures and unexpected costs. For many undergrads, traveling to academic and leadership conferences is one big cost that is simply not feasible without assistance.

A small group of current and former Faculty of Medicine students aim to ease the financial burden for University of Ottawa undergrads who hope to attend Canada-based conferences hosted by HOSA, the largest health science student organization in North America. They have spearheaded the creation of a new scholarship that will support travel, lodging and meals for one uOttawa student to join this prominent three-day conference each spring.

What’s their motivation? It’s all about expanding opportunities and encouraging students to explore the diversity that various healthcare disciplines have to offer.

“Students are often faced with the intimidating decision of making career choices at an early stage without much exposure to a field,” says Rishi Gupta, who completed a bachelor’s degree at uOttawa in 2019 and is now pursuing his MD degree at the Faculty of Medicine. “But this conference can help them explore their healthcare career options and interests, enabling students to discover new passions and make more informed decisions.”

Gupta says the competitive nature of the annual HOSA Canada conference – which brings together like-minded young scholars from across the country – encourages students to develop their communication and critical thinking skills, among other things.

Gupta conceptualized the fund with uOttawa MD student Olivier Brandts-Longtin (TMM ‘20) and Keshav Goel (TMM ‘20), who is now pursuing an MD degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). They created and led the uOttawa chapter of HOSA Canada during their undergraduate years.

“The three of us were intrigued by medicine and we wanted to use this scholarship to inspire others and encourage the next generation of students to become leaders in this field,” says Brandts-Longtin, also pursuing his MD degree at the Faculty of Medicine.

The new scholarship will be awarded based on merit and academic achievement, and the funds will be administered by the University of Ottawa. A selection committee will be led by the director of Financial Aid and Awards Service or their delegate.

Brandts-Longtin says they have raised the initial funds to support the scholarship, but they hope that with ongoing fundraising efforts the initiative will be expanded to “more students every year and leave a lasting positive impact.”

Why did it take three Faculty of Medicine students to generate the momentum to create a new scholarship for the benefit of students across uOttawa’s diverse faculties? Gupta says the Faculty of Medicine truly encourages innovative thinking and teamwork.

“The FoM has been instrumental in fostering critical thinking as well as a collaborative environment. The supportive and altruistic nature of the Faculty of Medicine community has inspired us to give back and allow future students aspiring to careers in healthcare to explore their fields of interest,” he says.

Consider supporting the University of Ottawa.
The ROK - medical multi-disciplinary conference support fund helps students to attend and compete at the HOSA Spring Leadership Conference

Scholarship students

From left to right: Keshav Goel, Rishi Gupta, and Olivier Brandts-Longin.


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