Exploring outside the box as a graduate Wilson Leader: Hanna Chidwick

The Wilson Leadership Scholar Award is all about inspiring change and making an impact. Read this interview to learn from Wilson Leader and PhD student Hanna Chidwick about how the program has impacted her.

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Prospective and current international and domestic graduate students can apply for the award (valued at up to $14,000) by Monday, March 28, 2022.

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February 25, 2022

By: Liz Koblyk (interviewer) and Hanna Chidwick (interviewee)

What has been most useful about the award program?

For me, what has been most useful about the award program has been the opportunity to explore my own interests and alternative ways of thinking about the world, with support from peers, mentors and staff (i.e., Liz!). I have been introduced to so many different avenues of thinking and doing community-engaged work, which I wouldn’t have been introduced to before. Exploring with peers and mentors how young people can contribute to change in terms of climate and economic recovery has also been really motivating and hopeful for me. 

What, if anything, has surprised you about it?

I have been surprised by how supportive the program is to the iterative, changing and flexible process of exploring. I think, sometimes it is hard to explore what is possible outside the box because support isn’t always there, but the program has provided invaluable support to explore outside the box. This allowed me to really dive into my curiosity about what is possible in the challenges we face today as a society — and as young people. This support has included ongoing resources, mentors and suggested opportunities to continue exploring my curiosities and questions about what is possible — it has been really exciting and fulfilling!  

This year, have you done anything as a Wilson Leader that you might not have done if you weren’t in the program?

Yes! There are many things — the people I have met, conversations I have had, opportunities I have thought about and explored. But two things stand out for me.

First, I got to work on a passion project to create a critical self-reflection guide in partnership with the McMaster Office of Community Engagement and student community. I had been thinking about critical self-reflection in research since my undergraduate degree, so the opportunity to partner with the McMaster community and develop the guide was really exciting and something I don’t think I would have done otherwise.

And second, I have had the opportunity to explore the realm of foresight and futurism in policy and practice through conversations, mentors and a practical certificate program, which I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to explore. Exploring foresight and futurism has been hugely influential in my dissertation work, and I am really grateful the program has supported my ongoing curiosity with it! 

What advice would you share with someone who’s considering applying? 

I would encourage anyone considering applying to go for it — throw your hat into the ring. My experience throughout the interview process and this past year has shown me that the WLSA invests in people and their potential, so I would also say, totally embrace yourself and your capacity. The award and the opportunities it provides leverage the skills you already have, and allow for really exciting exploration of ideas and opportunities. So, go for it, and embrace yourself in the process!

Hanna Chidwick
Hanna Chidwick, Wilson Leader, PhD student