Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at UBC

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a global center for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the best universities in the world. UBC’s vision is to create an exceptional learning environment that fosters global citizenship, advances a civil and sustainable society, and supports outstanding research to serve the people of British Columbia, Canada, and the world.

Beginning in 2013, UBC and the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) partnered to establish the UBC MCF Scholars Program, a 10-year initiative to educate and develop next-generation leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa to contribute to social and economic progress on the continent. The program has since provided 171 academically talented young people from Sub-Saharan Africa with access to quality and relevant university education at UBC. In addition to curricula engagement, Scholars are mentored, and empowered in leadership, and capacity building. They have the opportunity to participate in community service learning and pursue employment opportunities to foster their interest and capacity to return to Africa and give back to their communities.

Building on the program’s learnings and success, the Scholars Program in the next 10 years, 2024 to 2034, is projected to support 350 graduate students in seven professional master’s degree programs. Scholars will be provided with transformative learning through enriched educational experiences and a full range of programming that includes academic and social support, focus on student wellbeing, personal development, leadership, and transitions to dignified and fulfilling employment.

The thematic focus will be on forestry, agriculture, and water and land management as key enablers of sustainable entrepreneurship and community-led development. Academic concentrations are areas of strength at UBC with strong potential for impact of community co-created place-based learning, including:

Faculty of Forestry: Master of International Forestry, Master of Geomatics for Environmental Management, and the Master of Sustainable Forest Management.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems: Master of Food Resources Economics, Master of Land and Water Systems and Master of Food Science.

Faculty of Science: Master of Data Science.

  • Reflecting UBC’s strategic commitment to supporting international students, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars will benefit from academic and social support programs such as Jump Start, programs focused on student wellbeing and personal development, while benefiting from the direct support of a dedicated program office and team /advisors and a full range of academic success programs.

About UBC
UBC Facts and Figures

Professor Stephen J Toope
Former UBC President and Vice-Chancellor

Meet the Team

Terry Sunderland
Academic Director

Terry Sunderland is Professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences and has nearly 30 years of experience in tropical forestry and research. His academic career has showed a gradual transition from a focus on botany and ecology towards the social sciences. He is a graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (horticulture and botany) the University of Oxford (MSc in forestry) and University College, London (PhD biology and anthropology). After more than 15 years living and working in Cameroon, he moved to the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in 2006 and was based in Indonesia for the next 12 years. He originally led the Centre’s research theme on Landscape management for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods. In the last five years of his tenure at CIFOR he led the development of a program of work on forests and food security that evolved into the research theme Sustainable Landscapes and Food Systems. In January 2018, he joined the Faculty of Forestry and leads their programme on international cooperation and engagement.

Shanda Williams
Program Director 

Shanda is the Program Director of Global Campus Initiatives at the University of British Columbia. She is originally from Belize in Central America and immigrated to Canada in 2003 where she completed a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Psychology and Minoring in Business Administration. Shanda has been working in international education since 2011 and enjoys meetings and supporting students from around the world. Additionally, she is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and prior to working with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at UBC, she worked as a part of the International Student Advising team at UBC where her team supported more than 17,000 international students from over 150 countries. In her work with the Scholars Program, Shanda seeks to support students to continue to aspire to their highest potential as well as to find and develop fulfilling and meaningful experiences throughout their academic journey and beyond UBC.

Abigail (Abby) Aidoo
Program Manager

Abby is a former Mastercard Foundation Scholarship recipient, completing a Master of Business Administration from the UBC Sauder School of Business in 2022. While studying at UBC, Abby was an active member of the community, serving as the Vice-President, Student Development with the MBA Society and serving as a mentor for current and new scholars. She has worked in many roles over the years, working as a Chief of Staff at Microsoft Canada to co-creating and co-managing start-ups such as the GracedLife Leadership Center and Zerone Analytiqs in Ghana. Abby’s passion to give back to her community, both in Canada and on the African Continent, was also evident in her participation in the joint research project between UBC and the University of Edinburgh to develop mentorship tools to support students studying outside their home country. Additionally, during her time in UBC, she collaborated closely with Sauder LIFT to take their highly prestigious, entrepreneurial program to Ghana, where it provides workshop on strategies for starting and managing businesses. Abby brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to this role and we are looking forward to working with her on this new phase of the Scholars Program.

Toyosi Bamgboye
Program Advisor

Toyosi Bamgboye is the Program Advisor for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of British Columbia. From his early years, Toyosi has been drawn to the transformative power of education and its pivotal role in shaping individuals’ futures through his mother’s 35 years of experience working in education in his home country, Nigeria. My passion for student development is deeply rooted in my belief that every student has the potential to achieve greatness when provided with the right foundation, guidance, resources, and support. Throughout my career, I have dedicated myself to fostering environments where students can thrive academically, socially, and personally. Whether working as a mentor or academic advisor, I have consistently prioritized the holistic development of students. I strive to understand their unique needs and aspirations, helping them navigate their educational journeys confidently and clearly. His extensive experience, continuous professional development, critical thinking abilities, and passion for creating a holistic learning environment enable him to engage with diverse stakeholders effectively, ensuring the achievement of our program goals and objectives in empowering Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Africa.

Munatsi (Muna) Mavhima
Program Assistant

Muna Mavhima is the Program Assistant for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of British Columbia. Muna a is Shona immigrant settler who comes from Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, and has a BA in Political Science from SFU. Before joining the team, Muna worked in Financial Operations at UBC. Having been an international student, he is passionate about the care and guidance of Mastercard Foundation Scholars and is pleased to play an important role in that. Apart from working with international students, Muna enjoys volunteering with a Black-owned non-profit in Vancouver as well as creative writing in his spare time. Muna helps to oversee admission, coordinates events, and acts as the first point of contact for scholars.