Supporting students as they follow their passions

Student stepping on arrow pointing forward
The AbbVie IBD Scholarship recipients are leaders, advocates, and the next generation of changemakers—but what do they do when they’re not out in their communities, supporting their peers, and making an impact? We spoke to each one of this year’s scholarship recipients about their passions, and how the AbbVie IBD Scholarship helps them pursue it.

Aric Rankin | Nursing | McMaster University
“Living with IBD has its challenges, but I don’t let it hold me back from doing the things that I love. Playing music, dancing and rocking out with my three beautiful children and amazing wife brings great joy to my life. They each play an important role in my journey to achieve and maintain health and wellness.”

Brian Pentz | Environmental Governance | University of Toronto Scarborough
“My core interest is learning about environmental governance, but in my free time, I enjoy learning about American history, politics, and geography. The AbbVie IBD Scholarship will help me pursue a career in environmental affairs and my interest in learning about our world.”

Daniel Stuart | Nursing | University of Calgary
“UNDRCARD Boxing Studio blends music, movement, and rhythm to create a one-of-kind atmosphere. I have been instructing at the studio for two incredible years. Teaching and training at UNDRCARD allows me to express my creativity, and build strength of mind and body. Having received the AbbVie IBD Scholarship, I am able to dedicate more time to my own training and development as a boxer, not just as an instructor.”

James Sousa | Medical Laboratory Science | University of British Columbia
“I enjoy volunteering and working on Crohn’s disease research to better aid the IBD community; however, I also have a passion for travelling. I find exploring different cultures allows me to better understand other communities. Every year, I try to visit my parents’ home countries where I can reconnect with my heritage. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my two favourite loves—research and travelling—if it wasn’t for this scholarship.”

Jason Isaacs | Clinical Psychology | Dalhousie University
“Over the past year, bouldering has been an extremely enjoyable way for me to keep my energy up, exercise, and generally take care of myself. Unfortunately, self-care is expensive. The AbbVie IBD Scholarship will allow me some financial freedom to continue engaging in self-care. In turn, I will use my healthier mind and body from bouldering to optimally engage in research and clinical work as a Clinical Psychology student.”

Kwestan Safari | Molecular Biology and Biochemistry | Simon Fraser University
“My passion in life is research. I am forever grateful for the life-saving medication that I receive. This medication has come about as a result of basic science research. I hope to contribute to discovering new knowledge that could potentially lead to future therapies that could alleviate the human suffering associated with disease. The AbbVie IBD scholarship will help me to pursue the education necessary to work in the field of research.”

Peter Dobranowski | Microbiology and Immunology | University of Ottawa
“At first, I thought powerlifting was a sport of brute force, but, really, it’s as mental as it is physical. You need laser-like focus, complete mind-body control, and discipline to train, eat, and rest consistently. I found the lessons I learned from powerlifting useful elsewhere, too, especially living with IBD. The AbbVie scholarship will help me continue to train while worrying less about financing my PhD program in the University of Ottawa, where I’ll be studying new therapies for IBD.”

Rachel Szwimer | Medicine | McGill University
“I hope to introduce art therapy to the IBD community in the following academic year as I recognize that this form of creative expression continues to help keep my mind at ease and reduce stress. I love how art is a passion that can be enjoyed individually, and that art also has the power to bring people together. Being awarded this scholarship provides me with the financial support necessary to concentrate on my studies and the implementation of my art initiative in the IBD community.”

Taylor Stocks | Education | Memorial University of Newfoundland
“I have been performing as my drag king alter ego, Doctor Androbox, for over half a decade. My love of music, dance, theatre, and general silliness brought him to the stage and delighting his audiences kept him there. As a chronically ill trans person, I love drag for its ability to turn painful experiences into joy through humour and glitter. This scholarship will help Doctor Androbox and the Pronouns, his band, release an album of original songs in time for Pride next year.”

Theresa Engel-Wood | Educational Neuroscience | University of Calgary
“La Dolce Vita: the sweet life. Live life to the fullest, be inspired and inspire others, be loved and love back. Taste the food. Drink the wine. Travel the world.”

To get to know this year’s AbbVie IBD Scholarship recipients, read their bios
To learn more about the AbbVie IBD Scholarship, click here.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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