Conversations with McCall MacBain Scholars: Fatima Beydoun
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. 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 Fatima Beydoun, who is currently enrolled in the BCL/JD law program at McGill. An activist and organizer with Amnesty International Canada for over five years, Beydoun served as a national youth advisor and the president of her university’s chapter. I was born and raised in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. From then on, I became more involved with social activism and racial justice work on campus and within the community, where the women and femmes who provided me with community care by taking me under their wing along the way acted as my mentors. Accompanied with the shock and slight denial were feelings of immense gratitude and anticipation.
Figuring out how I was going to tell my parents alongside some close friends about this whole endeavour that I was privately doing on my own for the five months prior was the next thing on my mind. The other McCall MacBain Scholars are my friends and chosen family here in Montreal. Our cohort comprises of athletes, artists, advocates, entrepreneurs, bakers, Jeopardy wizards, meme machines (and so much more), truly adding to a vibrant experience as a graduate student. The leadership development program is an informative, interactive, and contemplative experience. It is also an opportunity to exchange ideas, where I am often impressed by the points of view shared by other scholars, and where we get to see our respective strengths come out in our approaches to problem-solving. My mentor is Justice Diane Rowe of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Upon speaking for the first time over the phone, I felt an instant connection later confirmed when meeting in person last fall. Beyond the regional aspect, our similarities in what we hold to be important in legal advocacy and everyday aspects have provided me with a sense of clarity and encouragement to help me get past my assumptions about the legal profession. Justice Rowe possesses a breadth of life experiences through her non-linear education and career trajectory, reaffirming that there is no one way to exist amidst these spaces.
She is very accepting and accommodating of meeting me where I am at with my developing knowledge in the field, and I can rely on her to tell it as it is. Early on in the program, we were matched up with a life coach who would best meet our needs based on the personal philosophies we created during our retreat. We focus on some things that I would like to work on – this can range from getting past sending daunting emails, establishing boundaries and accountability in group settings, or exploring strategies to act on budding interests/aspirations. Enriching, supportive, fulfilling, intellectually curious, thought-provoking and comforting are all words that come to mind when first reflecting on this question. As a matter of recognizing my privilege, there is a certain sense of responsibility attached to this scholarship that makes me feel like I have a duty to make the most out of it and use it in ways to give back. I think anyone and everyone should apply for this program! Don’t feel like you have to fit a specific mould to apply. In the more immediate sense, I am currently preparing to embark on my first ever international experience as a human rights intern this summer in Manila, where I will be working with the Ateneo Human Rights Center. Long-term, I hope to be in a place where I can be of service to others by advocating on behalf of and alongside communities and individuals experiencing discrimination. I hope to move forward by being more intentional with the things that I do and pushing myself a little more to pursue those which do not come naturally to me.
Read full article at McGill Reporter