The Victoria College Emerging Leader Award recognizes recent graduates, 40 years of age or under, who have excelled professionally or who have notable accomplishments in their professional work or volunteer service, such as community work, humanitarianism and philanthropy. Erin Macpherson is one of this year’s three recipients of the award with Doyali Islam Vic 1T2 and Peter Politis Vic 0T4. After completing a BSc at Vic, Erin Macpherson pursued an MSc at McMaster University. There, she volunteered for Let’s Talk Science, an organization that engages youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). As an outreach coordinator, Macpherson mobilized hundreds of student volunteers.
After graduating, she worked for the organization’s national office, engaging Indigenous youth in STEM learning and supporting projects in every province and territory. In partnership with Indigenous educators and knowledge keepers, she led the development of a training session now used by volunteers and staff across Canada. The goal was to increase understanding of Indigenous perspectives so that local outreach initiatives would be more culturally relevant. “My experience at Vic heightened my awareness of equity issues,” she says. “I am non-Indigenous but I aim to be an ally who is committed to ongoing learning.” With an interest in experiential learning, education and sustainability, Macpherson also volunteered for an Engineers without Borders Canada program and coached a youth water polo team. She now works in applied research to inform government policy, where a recent project for the Future Skills Centre studied STEM outreach programs reaching Indigenous youth across Canada.