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Global Health student Aloka Wijesooriya’s vision for a futuristic work world earns second place in international innovation competition

MSc Global Health student Aloka Wijesooriya

MSc Global Health student Aloka Wijesooriya was recently named a runner-up in a global innovation competition.

February 4, 2019

MSc Global Health student Aloka Wijesooriya’s vision for a future working world - where people and organizations work together and respectfully to care for the environment and society - placed runner-up in the recent annual U21/PwC Innovation Challenge. The competition included graduate students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea, and North and South America.

Universitas 21 (U21), a global network of research-intensive universities, and PwC, a multinational professional service firm, co-sponsor the competition, which asks students to respond to contemporary work-related issues. This year, contestants had to consider the pros and cons of working in a world where companies care and human come first – all within a three-minute video.

“This challenge resonated with me on a personal level because that kind of world reflects my own values,” says Wijesooriya, who studied health sciences as an undergraduate and is currently in her hometown of Nunavut conducting research under the supervision of McMaster’s Chelsea Gabel, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Well-Being, Community-Engagement, and Innovation. “Also, I took a class on globalization in the Global Health program, and the professor further opened my eyes to how we can make a difference in the world. In my video I imagined a future where we think about the next generations and how the world we’re living in today would impact them down the road.”

Wijesooriya says the MSc Global Health program helped prepare her for the competition through its active learning approach. She also credits the enriched environment cultivated by a diverse student body. “My peers’ unique theoretical, professional, lived-in and academic experiences all helped me understand what global health means to individuals. Using a critical and creative eye, I used these experiences as I prepared my submission for the competition.”

As a runner-up, Wijesooriya will receive exclusive coaching sessions with PwC Academy tailored to her specific career ambitions. She says participating in the competition has inspired her to reflect on her post-graduation plans. “My ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world by using my communication skills and passion for global health. Above all, I hope to foster the message I shared in my video submission to the people I meet on my personal journey: Be open-minded; be open-hearted; be respectful to the environment and humans; and be willing to learn.”

Watch Aloka's video submission