Four first-year university students from Newfoundland and Labrador have been awarded the prestigious Schulich Leaders scholarship for students studying science, technology, engineering and math.
Three of those students – Norman Chen of St. John's, Samantha Morgan from Colliers and Isaac Buckingham of Corner Brook – were each awarded a $100,000 scholarship, while Jason Matthews from Pasadena received $80,000.
Canadian businessman Seymour Schulich established the scholarship fund in 2012 for high school students entering university. Every high school in the country can submit one nominee per year.
More than 1,400 students from across Canada were nominated for the awards, but only 100 were selected to study at one of 20 partner universities in the country.
In a news release, Schulich says with school expenses covered, the scholarship will allow students to focus on their "studies, research projects, extracurricular and entrepreneurial ventures."
"They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators," Schulich said.
Chen, who had a 99 per cent average in high school, and studied chemistry and biology in the international baccalaureate program, believes his grades were a big factor in winning the scholarship, but so were his extracurricular activities, like swimming and chess.
"I did play chess provincially. I did go to nationals, I think it was nine times in my 11 years that I did play, so that might help too," he said on CBC radio's On The Go.
Chen is now studying software engineering at the University of Waterloo and said now that he's won the scholarship he doesn't have to worry about his finances, and can concentrate on school, which so far has been difficult.
"The first day we had a lot of stuff to do already and it's a very competitive school too, so everyone's trying their best," he said.
Chen doesn't know where he wants his studies to take him yet, but would like to develop some sort of app to help people in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Meanwhile Morgan, who is studying engineering at Memorial University, said she was shocked to learn she'd been named a 2022 Schulich Leader.
"I just never expected that I would win such a prestigious scholarship," Morgan said on The St. John's Morning Show.
Morgan said she wants to study electrical engineering and eventually work at Tesla, and later either Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
"I'm really interested in electric cars and how they work and how we can improve the electric grid itself to allow for more electric cars to be used," said Morgan.
Morgan believes her grades and extracurriculars also made her application stand out from 1,400 others. She said she was involved in many school clubs, tutoring, anti-bullying initiatives, and her high school's Green Team, which promoted recycling and composting and set up greenhouses.
Morgan said she considered studying at universities outside the province, but in the end chose Memorial University.
"I'm really close with my family, so I think ultimately, at the end of the day, even though I did consider other universities, I knew in my heart that it would always be MUN," she said.
Morgan is the only female from the province awarded the scholarship and says sometimes women can feel a little intimidated going into to science, technology, engineering and math.
"It's still really dominated by men. But all of the women in STEM — it's just such a community with everybody supporting each other," she said.
In a news release, the University of New Brunswick said Isaac Buckingham, the third scholar from the province, was chosen because of his academic achievements and because of his involvement in SHAD, a month-long STEM program for students in grades 10 and 11, and participation in the Canada Games representing Team N.L. in alpine skiing and beach volleyball.
The fourth recipient, Jason Matthews, was awarded a slightly smaller scholarship worth $80,000. In a news release, Memorial University said he will study a joint honours degree in computer science and statistics.