Faculty of Medicine student wins highly competitive McCall MacBain Scholarship

Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Yasmine Elmi

"I believe uOttawa provided me with an environment where I was comfortable, but it also really pushed me to grow and just gave me the space and the resources to be able to do so."

-- Yasmine Elmi

By David McFadden
Research Writer

A high-pitched trill of joy – “Lilililililili!” – reverberated through Yasmine Elmi’s family home in Ottawa when she told her mother that she’d made the cut for the highly competitive McCall MacBain Scholarship.

The exuberant sound of her mother’s “zaghareet” – a vocal ululation used during moments of great emotion – brought everyone in her tight-knit family of Somali heritage running. Her father, siblings, and 85-year old grandmother immediately joined in the celebration.

“It felt amazing to be surrounded by my family during this moment.” says Yasmine, a fourth-year student in Translational and Molecular Medicine (TMM) at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine.

In the fall, Yasmine will join a class of 20 young Canadian scholars at McGill University. She and her fellow scholarship winners were chosen from nearly 700 applicants. As a McCall MacBain Scholar, she will pursue a fully funded master’s degree in Family Medicine while participating in a mentorship and leadership development program. The scholarship covers tuition and fees, and includes a living stipend of $2,000 per month.

The recipients were chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity.

Dr. Lisa D’Ambrosio, an award-winning assistant professor in the Faculty’s TMM program, says Yasmine demonstrates an “exceptionally high capacity to apply her knowledge to solve practical problems, has outstanding initiative, and is very supportive of her peers.”

Born in Kenya and raised mostly in Ottawa, Yasmine is in the second cohort of the scholarship, the result of a $200-million gift to McGill University. She’s the first student from uOttawa to be accepted as a scholar of the McCall MacBain program.

She’s earned it. At uOttawa’s Faculty of Medicine, she’s been a high achiever with a drive to succeed.

She’s an honours student. She’s a mentor and tutor. She's been the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) coordinator for the Translational and Molecular Medicine Student Association (TMMSA), which was recently recognized by President Jacques Fremont for its outstanding dedication to EDI. She’s helped lead the Federations of Black Canadians youth council. She’s volunteered her time, including fundraising for a Somali community foundation.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she co-founded LINX, a club that provided a peer-to-peer buddy system for more than 100 first-year students. One of its goals was to help fellow uOttawa students ease the transition into online learning.

“It was the first time where I really got to push myself to explore my innovative and creative side. It has inspired me to pursue my entrepreneurial interests further,” she says.

Yasmine credits TMM with providing a slew of opportunities to accelerate her leadership skills. And uOttawa’s diversity was a big part of her personal development.

“I find uOttawa to be uniquely and abundantly diverse. I love connecting with people from different backgrounds. I believe uOttawa provided me with an environment where I was comfortable, but it also really pushed me to grow and just gave me the space and the resources to be able to do so,” she says.

She’s hardly going to be a couch potato until her next academic adventure - far from it. She's going hiking at the base of the world's highest mountain.

With two uOttawa buddies, she’s soon embarking on a trek to a Mount Everest Base Camp to benefit “AKHRI ~ Mothers and Daughters Literacy,” a group that advocates on behalf of women in Canada and Africa. All proceeds from the fundraising trek will provide textbooks and writing materials to young girls.

If you are a learner interested in applying for the next class of McCall MacBain Scholars, the application period opens in June. For the first time, it will be open to a global cohort. Visit mccallmacbainscholars.org to learn more about applying for admission.

Yasmine Elmi

Yasmine Elmi

Yasmine Elmi

Yasmine Elmi, bottom front, and her family shortly after hearing from the McCall MacBain Scholarship committee that she earned a spot.


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