From STEM students to alumni changemakers
The Schulich Leader Scholarships are marking a milestone this year: 10 years awarding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholarships to bright and innovative students who aspire to make the world a better place. Launched in 2012, the Schulich Leader Scholarships program funds up to 100 undergraduate scholarships at 20 top Canadian universities each year, including Dalhousie, allowing promising students to pursue their dreams and become global STEM pioneers.
Jack deGooyer (BEng’21) is one of them. Now a Master’s of Applied Science student at the University of Waterloo, deGooyer is one of 28 Schulich Leaders Dalhousie has welcomed since the scholarship program started a decade ago.
While at Dal, deGooyer gained experience working in Jeff Dahn’s battery research lab and he completed a co-op term at Tesla’s lab in Halifax. Now, his innovative graduate work focuses on using quantum photonic nanowires as super-sensitive photodetectors designed to biomedically image (and hopefully diagnose) degenerative eye diseases. Having the Schulich Leader Scholarship, deGooyer says, gave him the confidence to take risks in the field: “I might as well swing for the fences,” he says.
Scholarships free students to pursue extra-curricular interests
Launched with a $100-million endowment by philanthropist Seymour Schulich (doubled to $200 million in 2020), the program offers $100,000 scholarships for engineering students, and $80,000 scholarships for science and math students – amongst the most generous undergraduate scholarships available in Canada.
Schulich Leaders are nominated to apply by their high schools, who look not only at academics but also entrepreneurial leadership, charisma and creativity, with strong consideration given for financial need.
When Dal Schulich Leader alumna Kate Arpin (BSc’21) was in grade 12, she helped lead a new water quality study in her hometown of Uxbridge, Ont. It looked at the concentrations of chemicals in water fleas, considered an indicator species.
Now a grad student at the University of British Columbia, Arpin says the value of the program can’t just be measured in dollars. “There’s a ripple effect as well,” she says. “By being able to focus on my studies, I did better than I would have if I had to work part-time, and by taking on really cool research opportunities, I gained experience that allowed me to get scholarships for my masters.”
Arpin added that the program does “an absolutely amazing” job of providing networking opportunities and mentorship.
Mentorship and networking
Not only do the Schulich Leaders benefit from having mentors, they also benefit from becoming mentors – sometimes even to younger Schulich Leaders. Jack deGooyer is one of the younger students Dal Schulich Leader alumna Amanda MacLean (BEng’19) helped mentor. “She really helped me a lot through my undergraduate,” deGooyer says.
Helping others is part of the ethos that drives MacLean and other young leaders in highly competitive fields. “I think my ultimate goal is always to leave somewhere better than when I came. I find most struggles I’ve encountered are worth the pain, as long as the next person struggles less,” MacLean says.
MacLean’s leadership work today includes co-chairing Engineers Nova Scotia’s Youth Engagement Committee, plus she’s employed as a data analyst with the federal government. MacLean graduated from a Eash Hants Rural High School in Nova Scotia and says being a Schulich Leader comes with the freedom to be imperfect. She knew that if she did stumble it wasn’t the end of the world – and that knowledge was life changing. “You don’t have to be perfect 100 per cent of the time to be worthy of this award. [That] was really, really valuable to me.”
Lifelong connections and support
The Schulich Leaders form a cohort during their time as Dal students and enjoy on-campus meet-ups and enrichment experiences. Recently, the incoming class of Schulich Leaders had a breakfast-learning session with Dalhousie’s Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President, Research & Innovation. Dr. Aiken spoke with them about what it means to be a leader and after spending a few hours with them, said, “It was such an honour to meet these future leaders.”
As alumni, they stay part of the Schulich Leaders network with continued opportunities for support, learning and development.
On the 10th anniversary of the program, President Deep Saini says he’s proud that Dalhousie has attracted 28 Schulich Leaders thus far. “What is noteworthy is that many Schulich Leaders are still studying or launching their careers. Their work will shape our future,” he says.
“Thank you to Seymour Schulich and the Schulich Foundation for your generosity and support of these exceptional Dalhousie innovators,” says Dr. Saini.