Scholarship Winner Certainly on the Ball

By Elaine Smith 

YorkU students playing soccer

One of Patrick Brandon Kwo’s proudest moments – aside from winning a President’s International Scholarship of Excellence to York University – came when he captained the Mauritius national U20 soccer team in an international competition in Eswatini. 

“I was privileged to captain the team and it was a really proud moment, representing my country,” Kwo says. “I got emotional singing the national anthem before the game. Overall, it was a great experience. You can see the level of competition out there and it motivates you.” 

Kwo is studying finance and business economics in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York, but soccer is his lifelong passion.  and he currently plays intramural soccer twice a week and works out in the gym to stay in shape. 

“I’m hoping to join our varsity team,” he says. “I missed the tryouts this year because I wasn’t here in Canada yet, but I hope to try out next year. The team has a good reputation, so it will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.” 

Kwo has discovered that sport is essential to maintaining balance in his life and isn’t worried that it will interfere with his studies. 

“I balanced sport and studies all through high school,” he says. “It’s the balance I need and it’s beneficial for me to keep playing. My classes are manageable.” 

Keeping his grades up is a requirement of the President’s International Scholarship of Excellence, which is awarded to incoming high school students who demonstrate academic excellence, commitment to volunteer work and extracurricular activities, and leadership skills. Kwo wanted to study in another country so he could have more independence. He has family in Canada and chose to come to York because there were opportunities for scholarships to defray the cost of university.  

“I found out in April that I was awarded the scholarship,” Kwo says. “I was doing an internship and I received the email in the morning before I went to work. At first, I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to make sure it was real before I told my parents. I showed it to my mom and she was so happy; I was, too. I am very grateful to York U for this scholarship; it’s an amazing opportunity. 

Now that he’s here in Toronto, he’s settling into life in residence and on campus. He has made friends, including another winner of the scholarship; the two of them often study together. 

“I like the campus; it’s nice and big,” he says. “I like the diversity of people from all over the world. I’ve even met a few other Mauritians.”