Skip to main content
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo
COVID-19 information and updates

Find the most recent updates here, as well as FAQs and information for students, faculty and staff.

Social Work student, Calvin Prowse

Social Work student, Calvin Prowse, talks about receiving the prestigious Hilary M. Weston Scholarship

Prowse was one of two graduate students awarded the scholarship, which recognizes outstanding work and contribution to mental health.

Oct 22, 2021

For Calvin Prowse, the news that they received the esteemed Hilary M. Weston scholarship came as a welcome surprise. The scholarship, which is awarded annually by the Ontario government to graduate social work students at public universities, recognizes outstanding work and contributions to the field of mental health.

Prowse, a graduate of McMaster’s Bachelor of Social Work and Psychology programs, started their Master of Social Work this September. They saw the scholarship not only as an academic endorsement, but as a powerful validation for their research, which was influenced by the years they spent in the peer support field, both accessing and providing support.

Their time as a peer support worker and advocate began because of their own experiences coping with mental health concerns and disability. They initially became involved with the Hamilton Mad Students Collective, a grassroots community-based peer support organization. After experiencing first-hand the power of peer support, it inspired them to seek training in the area and work with other organizations, including the Mental Health Rights Coalition.

“Connecting with individuals with shared experiences helped me to feel as though I could have a place in this world, instead of thinking that there was something wrong with my brain or with me,” they said. “Those interactions helped me more than any other mental health support had. It made me realize I had something to offer.”

Their time in the field also made them mindful of the lack of understanding about the sector among some members of the public.

“Unfortunately, many people still aren’t aware of what peer support is or if they do, they don’t always consider it as important as other more clinical types of mental health supports,” explained Prowse. “Receiving this scholarship felt as though my interests and research were being taken seriously. This has given me a platform to share my knowledge with a sense of legitimacy.”

Prowse plans to focus on tackling issues within the field and they already have several potential research topics in mind, including examining the impact that a new push towards professionalization and accreditation will have on existing peer support workers, and how the perspectives of peer support workers employed in a clinical organization may change as a result.

“I want to create research that won’t just sit on a shelf but will really be helpful to people working in the field,” said Prowse. “A lot of the research has been focused on individual agencies to determine whether this method of mental health support actually works. We know it works, so I want my research to go even deeper.”