In spite of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Rotary District 5020 continues its work. The District 5020 Scholarship Committee manages Rotary District 5020 Ambassadorial Scholarships (RDAS), Global Grant Scholarships (GGS) and Peace Fellowships on behalf of the District. 

   The March 2020 issue of UD5020, the District 5020 Magazine, included announcements of two Ambassadorial Scholarship awardees, Mr. Kyle Fawkes and Mr. Brody McDonald. Since then, both Kyle and Brody applied to The Rotary Foundation for Global Grant Scholarships. 

   We are thrilled to now announce that both Kyle and Brody were successful in their applications. This means that each will now be awarded a total of $30,000 USD to support their post-graduate studies abroad. In addition, District 5020 has awarded another $15,000 Ambassadorial Scholarship to Ms. Courtney Brossel. 


   Kyle Fawkes holds an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts and Science degree from Quest University in Canada. Kyle is no stranger to Rotary. He was active in Interact and was co-founder of a Rotaract club at Quest University. He has also completed a Master of Science degree in Coastal and Marine Management from University College Cork in Ireland where his thesis examined the influence of the United Nations’ ocean assessment process on the global sustainable development effort for the marine environment. Kyle will now further his studies at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland in the UK. He is enrolled in the LL.M. program focusing on the application of international law to the peaceful management of natural resources, including marine food resources. This fits within Rotary’s Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution theme as well as Rotary’s recent expansion of its efforts in the area of the environment. Kyle states “My combined interests in global environmental trends, local community development, humanitarian work and global governance have galvanized my passion for pursuing studies that investigate how to improve international dialogue and relations for sustainability and equitably managing natural marine resources, building peace and resolving conflicts.” In June, Past District Governor (PDG) Craig Gillis selected Kyle as the winner of a $3,000 Past District Governor’s Award established by the Rotary Club of Campbell River Daybreak to recognize PDG Craig’s service to Rotary. About Kyle, PDG Craig states that “He is a remarkable young man…..and we are so proud of his journey through Interact, Rotaract…..and now excited about his next chapters as a Global Scholar.” At the time of writing of this article, given the changing academic environment, it was not yet entirely clear how the next year will proceed for Kyle as he and Strathclyde University sort out his study arrangements. 

   Brody McDonald holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Victoria and a Master of Philosophy degree in Early Modern History from the University of Cambridge in the UK. Brody has a remarkable background. He has worked as a Policy Advisor to Canada’s Ministry of Industry. Kyle Fawkes. He has also worked as a researcher in the Parliament of Canada’s Non-Partisan Parliamentary Group for Genocide Prevention where he was responsible for monitoring violence between sections of the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities in Iraq and Syria. Brody has been accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of Oxford in the UK to further his research in ethnic conflicts in the Middle East. A former supervisor of Brody at the Government of Canada states that “Through his research into the causes of ethnic and sectarian violence in Iraq and Syria, Brody is seeking to shine a light on how militant groups and politicians have spurred on sectarian hate speech and violence through social media platforms and exclusionary political policies. … I have no doubt that Brody’s experience crafting public policy for the Government of Canada will be of assistance to him in this work.” In his scholarship applications, Brody was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Saanich where he had been a speaker at a club meeting. Jim Sparling of that club enthusiastically promoted Brody as a speaker to other clubs. In early 2020, to better prepare for his Ph.D. studies, Brody went to Jordan for a study program to expand his knowledge of the Arabic language. Then Covid-19 hit and Jordan quickly shut down its borders and airports. At the time of this writing, Brody remains in Jordan, which luckily has a very low rate of infection. Covid-19 may delay but will not stop Brody’s pursuit of his studies and research in promoting peace. 

   Courtney Brossel holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in Dance from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She is a native of Port Orchard WA and was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Port Orchard and promoted by club member Bob Cairns who interviewed her initially and encouraged her to apply for the Ambassadorial Scholarship. Courtney has been living and working in Berlin, Germany for several years and is now also fluent in German. Courtney has been accepted into the Master in Social Work as a Human Rights Profession degree program at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. She expected to begin her studies in October. However, the university has decided to close and begin the normally Fall 2020 semester in April 2021. As Courtney is already living and working in Berlin, this delay is more of an inconvenience than a real problem. Courtney also plans to become a licensed Dance Movement Therapist as a complement to her MSW degree. Currently she works in Berlin as a movement specialist, providing lesson plans that use creative movement as a way to explore body awareness, navigate conflict resolution, and practise teamwork. Courtney was a Rotary Summer Youth Exchange student in Italy at age 16 and has completed Rotary’s Positive Peace Academy Training Course. Her career goal is to work as a social worker and human rights advocate in organizations created to protect human rights, thereby contributing directly to the implementation of positive peace. In her application for the scholarship, Courtney states “As a first generation college graduate, and someone who has personally seen the effects that mental health, poverty and inequality can have on individuals and the collective, it is with great enthusiasm that I have applied for this Master’s program and this scholarship. With the support of Rotary, I will have the financial means to realize my dreams of furthering my education and creating a more just, peaceful and loving world.” 

   The District 5020 Scholarship Committee is expecting big dividends for Rotary and the world by investing in the education of these three promising students. Our 2019-20 RDAS and GGS awardee, Emily Paterson-Percival, is studying for an MSC degree at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. However, Covid-19 has curtailed her stay in the UK and cancelled her expected practicum in maternal health in Nepal. Emily has returned to her home in Sooke BC but continues to pursue her studies remotely. She still expects to complete her degree this Fall. 

   In June, the Committee interviewed an applicant for the Rotary Peace Fellowship 20121-2022. The committee enthusiastically endorsed the application on behalf of District 5020. This places the candidate in the worldwide pool of normally over 1000 applicants. Competition for the full-year Fellowship is fierce as only about 100 are awarded. The Fellowship covers all expenses including tuition and living costs for a full year’s study at one of a select number of universities. We hope to hear a positive result from the Peace Center of The Rotary Foundation in late 2020. Our fingers (and toes) are crossed for our very impressive District 5020 candidate. 

   As for Covid-19, we fervently hope that by the Fall of 2021, all will be behind us. 

Harry Panjer, a member of the Rotary Club of Comox, serves as Chair of the District 5020 Scholarship Committee, a subcommittee of the Foundation Committee. Pete Leenhouts, a member of the Rotary Club of East Jefferson County, is a member of the District 5020 Scholarship Committee.