Lode Roels

This week, we launched our 2014 Summer Student Program, searching for passionate and driven individuals to engage in our exciting summer student opportunities.

Now that the application website has been opened, we would like to take this opportunity to look back at our team of students from 2013. This group of eight wonderful people came from a variety of backgrounds and worked on a number of diverse projects. In this blog post, the students want to share their experiences and advice with others who would like to apply for the 2014 summer student program. Read their thoughts and advice below, and scroll down for more information about their roles last summer. Feel free to connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn!

These two quotes capture the enthusiasm and experiences of our 2013 summer student team:

“The best part about working at Grand Challenges Canada…is unquestionably the work environment. The staff is an incredibly diverse and passionate group of people. As summer students, we were welcomed as a valuable part of the Grand Challenges Canada team. We were encouraged to participate in meetings and to share our thoughts—not only on specific grants or how the organization operates, but also on the field of global health more generally. It’s extremely exciting to work with a team that is fully committed to saving and improving lives through innovation!”

“Grand Challenges Canada offers many opportunities to learn and network, such as a monthly mentorship program and a speaker series. Through project calls and meetings, we gained an insight into planning, monitoring and evaluating global health projects.”

Here is some first-hand advice for future summer students or potential applicants:

  • Apply to the summer student program! Don’t worry if your educational background doesn’t directly relate to global health or science. (Only three out of eight summer students of 2013 actually had a science background.) Our advice is to consider your passion for global health and innovation, and how your studies or past experiences may be relevant. Be sure to touch on this in your application! 
  • As a summer student, make an effort to learn from your colleagues, and seek out opportunities to expand your skills. Do not be shy to ask questions early and often.
  • Take note that Grand Challenges Canada is very active on social media. Follow @gchallenges, @PeterASinger, @AbdallahDaar and @TaylorAndrew1 on Twitter to get the most up-to-date glimpse of Grand Challenges Canada’s work and priorities.
  • P.S. The MaRS Centre has beehives on the roof: take a tour!

Find out more about our 2013 students’ education, background and portfolio:

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Ashley Teo, Strategy & Operations, Financial Innovations

Education: Fourth year, B.Sc. (Hons.) Economics and Psychology at the University of Toronto (St. George)

This summer I… conducted market research; assisted with deal execution; due diligence; logistics planning; portfolio analysis; investment committee process; and co-wrote a Financial Innovations strategy paper.

Follow Ashley on Twitter: @teo_ashley


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Bianca Ponziani, Business Analyst

Education: Joint Hons. Environment and Political Science, McGill University; entering the University Of Toronto – Faculty of Law

This summer I…supported the Finance Team by evaluating RFP submissions for due diligence services, prepared bank reconciliations, and analyzed budget variances and organizational expense trends.

Follow Bianca on Twitter: @bgponziani


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Caroline Leps, Women & Children’s Health

Educational background: Third year, BSc. (Hons.) Global Health and International Relations, University of Toronto

This summer I…helped develop resources to support grantees when applying for grants and managing their projects, including a project lifecycle case study and a toolkit on behaviour change best practises. I also supported grant negotiation and management by helping revise the Request for Proposals and the application for the Saving Brains program.

Follow Caroline on Twitter: @caroline_leps


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Danielle Ouellette, Women & Children’s Health

Education: BSc. Environmental Science, Western University; starting a MSc. Global Health, McMaster University

This summer I…helped develop resources to support grantees, including a toolkit on monitoring and evaluation. I was involved in various aspects of grant management and program administration, including sitting in on calls with innovators, compiling reporting documents, and helping with the Saving Brains and Global Mental Health community meeting in Calgary.

Follow Danielle on Twitter: @OuelletteDM


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Faye Williams, Policy & Strategic Partnerships

Education: Fourth year, BSocSc. (Hons.) International Development and Globalization, University of Ottawa

This summer I…worked on tasks related to Grand Challenges Canada’s secondary strategic priority to test new models of innovation diplomacy through partnerships. One of my main projects was organizing the logistics and outreach for our CEO’s trip to southeast Asia.

Follow Faye on Twitter: @FayeElizabeth_W


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Jo-Ann Osei-Twum, Stars in Global Health

Education: MSc student, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia

This summer I…was primarily conducting an analysis of the Stars in Global Health Program and provided support to other projects when needed.

Connect with Jo-Ann on LinkedIn


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Leah Nosal, Point-of-Care Diagnostics

Education: BA (Hons.) Political Science & International Relations, University of Toronto

This summer I…collected detailed information on the diagnostics grants within the Stars in Global Health portfolio. Using this information, I identified patterns and areas of alignment between these grants and the Point-of-Care Diagnostics program.

Follow Leah on Twitter: @leahnosal


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Swati Anand, Communications

Education: BA English Literature, Psychology, Communication Studies, Christ College, Banglore, India; Masters in Communications, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications, Pune, India; currently pursuing MBA, Schulich School of Business, York University

This summer I…was responsible for social media and the blog. As part of the blog re-launch, I curated content, edited and promoted it. I also boosted activity on the Facebook page, and brought in a strong focus on social entrepreneurship and impact investing in external communications.

Follow Swati on Twitter: @SwatAnand