Neleah Lavoie's science fair career in school saw her examining a range of topics, from making biodegradable plastic to stopping cancer growth — and now it has landed her a major scholarship from 4-H Canada.
Lavoie is a three-time winner at the 4-H Canada Science Fair. Her accomplishments won the North Wiltshire student one of four Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction scholarships from 4-H.
Lavoie says she had a lot to thank 4-H for even before winning the scholarship.
"4-H provided me with a huge platform that has allowed me to reach out to so many individuals, and I then had the resources to do different research, as well as the people to compete against, and to be able to travel the country to compete in different science fairs," she said.
"It's been a really amazing opportunity."
Lavoie attended her first national science fair when she was in Grade 8, with a project that explored extracting substances from lobster shells that could be used to create biodegradable plastic.
In Grade 11, she experimented with broccoli, kale, radish, and mung bean sprouts, examining their antiangiogenic properties — that is, their ability to inhibit the growth of blood vessels. Antiangiogenic substances can be used to treat cancer, by cutting off blood supply to tumours.
More than just money
Lavoie is now a first-year health sciences student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., and has her eye on medical school, and eventually neurosurgery.
The scholarship is worth $5,000 a year for up to four years.
"It helps finance my education, which is very important right now, but it also pairs me with a mentor, someone that I have with me for the next four years, that I can rely on for different resources," said Lavoie.
"And it's someone in a career that I'm looking to go into."
The LEAD scholarship for Lavoie is a sign of how 4-H has changed, she said.
"They've put science and technology out there as one of their four main pillars," said Lavoie. "It's branched out so fast in the last number of years."
While Lavoie won her scholarship in Science and Technology, three others were awarded in Agriculture and Food Security, Environment and Healthy Living, and Community Engagement and Communications.