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Rotary Club continues to foster education and research

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The Rotary Global Grant Scholarship supports both education and research and former-Goderich resident Leslie Walker is a recipient this year.

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Valued at $30,000 USD the scholarship will help fund Walker’s research, including travel to developing countries to conduct case studies to better understand the needs of digital healthcare in resource-poor environments.

A highly competitive process that included numerous rounds of interviews and written applications, Walker was humbled and full of gratitude when she heard she was the successful candidate.

“I believe that my research is valuable and will help a lot of people, so it is so wonderful to know that your local community feels the same way,” Walker conveyed.

“Health research has been particularly difficult during the ‘infodemic’ – health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic – so I am grateful for the support and encouragement from Rotary.”

Walker who was recently accepted to complete her Doctorate of Social and Economic Sciences (PhD) at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria focuses her research on Artificial Intelligence (AI) within healthcare in resource-poor regions.

“I am focusing on this topic in order to address health disparities – gaps in access, quality and affordability of medical care,” explained Walker, who added that typically, it is wealthy urban centres that receive a disproportionate share of health services.

“My research aims at making this more equitable to reduce the growing health divide between resource-rich and resource-poor regions.”

All Rotary Clubs around the world make annual donations to the Rotary International Fund, which can then be applied to for global grants to fund projects.

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The Global Scholarships are funded through Global Grants Fund and all districts around the world can have students apply.

The scholarships are for graduate study and are provided for students who will be doing research in one of Rotary’s six areas of focus: Peace; Fighting diseases; Clean water and sanitation; Saving mothers and children; Supporting education; and Growing local economies.

“When we think resource-poor, we often focus on the lack of technology. However, many areas are resource-poor because of the lack of human resources; there are not enough doctors,” said Rosanne Field, local Rotarian, the District NGSE co-ordinator and district counsellor for youth exchange.

“As she [Walker] looks at how technology can be integrated into treatment in resource poor countries, it may mean that patient could have virtual medical care near their community, rather having to travel long distances. It will provide insights into how to meet needs within the communities.”

Originally from Goderich, Walker has spent the past five years working as a Management Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In that position she works globally with large tech companies such as Google and Microsoft focusing on digital enablement in the public sector.

Prior to that Walker completed her Honours Bachelor of Commerce and Psychology at McMaster University and her Master of International Business at Queen’s University with an MBA exchange to Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, China.

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“I believe a great deal of my academic and professional success has been because I grew up in Huron County,” Walker mentioned.

While at GDCI Walker says she had fantastic sports coaches and teachers who gave up countless lunch breaks to give her extra study help.

Walker said they taught her the importance of both health and education, two topics that have highly influenced her research to date.

The Rotary Motto is Service Above Self and this year’s theme is Serve to Change Lives. As education remains a primary focus, not just in terms of providing scholarships, but also in helping support development of educational recourses in other countries.

Rotary Club also provides New Generations Service Exchanges, where recent graduates can go to other countries to learn about their profession.

“Educated individuals can change their community through skills they learn, because they can work at a range of jobs and they can develop their local economy,” explained Field.

“Supporting research related to the areas of focus means we are addressing the inequities that contribute to poverty, maternal and child mortality and lack of opportunities.”

Those interested in Rotary Club grants and funding must apply through local clubs to be interviewed and recommended: https://www.rotary6330.org/

For more information about Rotary Club’s grants: https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/scholarships

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