The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a global centre 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.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at UBC will take place over a ten-year period with a total of 171 Mastercard Foundation Scholars, including undergraduate and masters students.

Beginning with five undergraduate students in 2013, UBC currently has 53 Mastercard Foundation Scholars on its Vancouver campus. In addition to their curricula engagement, the scholars will be mentored, engaged in leadership capacity building, participate in local and international community service learning, and take up summer internships in Africa to foster their interest and capacity to return to Africa to give back to their communities.

Reflecting UBC’s strategic commitment to supporting international students, the Mastercard 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 newly created program director and a full range of academic success programs.

About UBC
UBC Facts and Figures

Professor Stephen J Toope
Former UBC President and Vice-Chancellor

Program Team

Tom Ross
Academic Director

Tom Ross is the Academic Director for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of British Columbia. He also serves as the Senior Associate Dean (Special Projects), the UPS Foundation Professor of Regulation and Competition Policy and the Director of the Phelps Centre for the Study of Government and Business in the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. An economist, he did his undergraduate work at the University of Western Ontario and earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. Professor Ross worked at the University of Chicago and Carleton University before moving to U.B.C. (in 1992) and spent a year as the first holder of the T.D. MacDonald Chair in Industrial Economics at the Competition Bureau in 1990-91 and a year as a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University from 1987-88. From 1993 to 1996 he served as the Chair of the Policy Analysis and Strategy Division and from 2008-2012 as the Senior Associate Dean (Faculty and Research) of the Sauder School. He has received awards for his research from the Sauder School (Faculty Research Prize, 2001) and the University of British Columbia (Killam Research Prize, 2005) as well as teaching awards from the Sauder School (CGA Graduate Teaching Award, 2004) and from the MBA Class of 2004 (Outstanding Professor Award). His research in the areas of competition policy, regulation, industrial organization and experimental economics has been published in a number of scholarly journals. Professor Ross is the founding and continuing director of the successful UBC Summer Conference on Industrial Organization which has been running for over twenty-five years. He has also served as a consultant to a number of public and private sector organizations.

Jola Lekich
Program Director 

Jolanta (Jola) Lekich is the Program Director, Global Campus Initiatives at the University of British Columbia. She has an MA in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia. Jola provides strategic leadership and direction for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program as well as the Simon K.Y. Lee Global Lounge and Resource Centre, a hub for globally-focused student organizations on campus. Jola has worked with students in the areas of facilitation, ethical engagement, conflict resolution, volunteer retention and grant writing. With over ten years of experience in international education, Jola has taught, coached and advised international students as an International Student Advisor and ESL Instructor, both at UBC and at Langara College.

Nastasha Philander
Experiential Learning Advisor

Natasha Philander is the Experiential Learning Advisor for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of British Columbia. Natasha holds a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University and a Masters of Arts (candidate) in Educational Studies from Concordia. Natasha’s professional development includes curriculum development and analysis from an anti-racist and gender equality perspective as well as First Nations perspectives in the classroom. Natasha supports career and professional development, and promotes Scholar engagement in career building experiences connecting students to internships , alumni, and mentors.

Sarah Cameron
Program Advisor

Sarah Cameron is the program advisor to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars at UBC where she supports students’ transition, engaged learning and leadership development. In addition to her work with the MCF Scholars, Sarah also support s the WUSC Student Refugee Program at the University of British Columbia. Sarah studied and worked internationally for several years prior to returning to Canada to work in post-secondary education. Sarah is passionate about promoting access to international education and has a background in career and academic advising at the University of Victoria and McGill University.

Lily Mesfin Asfaw
Program Assistant

Lily Mesfin Asfaw is the Program Assistant for the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program (MCFSP) at the University of British Columbia. Lily’s passion for gender equity in particular and social justice more broadly led her to pursue a BA in Political Science and Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice (GRSJ) at UBC. Before joining the MCFSP team, Lily worked and volunteered across campus; most recently working at International Student Advising Office where she helped international students acclimate to living in Canada. Lily helps to oversees admission, coordinates events, and acts as the first point of contact for scholars in the MCFSP.