Two Nigerian youngsters win prestigious scholarship in Canada

Two young Nigerians, Mariam Olafuyi and Umezurike Uchechukwu, are among six people of African descent from a total of 166 scholars who have been awarded the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, one of Canada’s most prestigious academic scholarships.

Funded by the federal government, the scholarship programme designed to is attract and retain world-class doctoral students, with each recipient receiving $50,000 each year for three years.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships are awarded yearly through the federal granting agencies – the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).

Consideration for the scholarship is hinged on three equally weighted selection criteria: academic excellence, research potential, and leadership; and the areas of research include health, natural sciences and/or engineering, social sciences and humanities.

The other four recipients of African descent, apart from Olafuyi and Uchechukwu are Albert Isaacs from the University of Calgary; Natasha Henry from the York University; Ketty Anyeko from the University of British Columbia, and Marilyn Ahun, Universite de Montreal.

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Mariam Olafuyi

An alumnus of the University of Ibadan, Mariam Olafuyi is the only black person from the University of Toronto, Canada, to be awarded the scholarship.

She attended the International School, University of Ibadan, for her secondary school education and, on account of her academic brilliance, leadership qualities and impeccable character, she was appointed the Head Girl in her final year.

Mariam went ahead to graduate with a First Class honours in Law from the University of Ibadan, and was the president of the Law Students’ Society (LSS), UI branch.

She was awarded the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship for her Master’s degree in Law (LL.M) 2014 – 2015 at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Ms Olafuyi is passionate about international trade and business in Africa, channeling her experience in commercial law, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and technology sectors, to seek solutions to the problems facing businesses in developing countries in Africa.

She also sees herself as entrepreneurial, driven and result-oriented, believes “that in thinking, there should be no box.”

Mariam Olafuyi was once a Legal Officer with the ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Limited, Ikoyi, Lagos; Associate with the Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Lagos, and an Intern at the Chief Afe Babalola & Co SAN, Emmanuel Chambers, Ibadan, Oyo State, among others.

She is currently a doctoral student (Juridical Science (S.J.D), African Economic Integration Law) at the University of Toronto.

The topic of her research proposal is ‘Towards the Creation of an African Economic Community: A Case for Reevaluation of Approaches and Development of a Framework for Cross-Border Infrastructure Projects’.


Umezurike Uchechukwu

Currently a doctoral student at the University of Alberta, Mr Peter Uchechukwu Umezurike’s research topic is ‘Masculinity in Contemporary Nigerian Fiction’.


Umezurike (or Uche Peter Umez) has established a reputation for himself as a writer.  His first published work of poetry, ‘Dark through the Delta’, deals with the recurring despoliation of Nigeria using the Niger Delta as its motif.

A graduate of Government & Public Administration from Abia State University, Umez is also the author of ‘Tears in her Eyes’ (short stories) and ‘Aridity of Feelings’ (poems).

He has a master’s degree in English Studies from the University of Port Harcourt and is currently a PhD student at the University of Alberta, Canada.

His fictional work for children include ‘Sam and the Wallet’, ‘Tim the Monkey and other Stories’, ‘The Boy Who Throws Stones at Animals and other Stories’ and ‘The Runaway Hero’.


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