This fall, the University of Waterloo is welcoming 10 outstanding first-year students — four of whom will be studying computer science — through the Schulich Leader Scholarships program. Awarded annually to 100 high school students across Canada, the Schulich Leader Scholarships are granted to exceptional students who show great entrepreneurial promise in science, technology, engineering and math.
For 12 consecutive years, the University of Waterloo has been called home for budding STEM scholars who are recipients of this award. Each recipient is awarded between $100,000 and $120,000, which allows them to focus on their studies, knowing that their financial needs are covered.
Since 2012, Waterloo has welcomed nearly 70 Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients.
“I am delighted to welcome this year’s cohort of Schulich Leader scholars to Waterloo’s campus,” says Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “These students represent some of the sharpest young minds in STEM and I am excited to see the game-changing contributions they will make to society.”
Scott Hao, Computer Science
Scott is an avid sports fan and was also involved in the debate clubs, but he’s always had a burning desire to break into the tech space. He enjoys the process of designing and building things so there was no question in his mind about what he wanted to study after high school — or where.
“Waterloo’s always been a first choice for me, not only because of its world-class education but also because of its role in my childhood learning. Growing up in Waterloo, some of my earliest forays into STEM were at the university during after-school programs and summer camps. I really credit Waterloo for sparking my interest in technology in the first place.”
Finding out he was a Schulich Leader Scholarship recipient just one hour before an advanced placement biology exam caused an unanticipated distraction. “I dropped all my study materials, briefly celebrated with my parents, and cranked out thank-you emails to my teachers,” Scott recalls.
“Putting my excitement aside to focus on my exam was one of the hardest things I’d ever done!”
Scott hopes to leverage technology for social good. He imagines it could either be through a career in research or by taking on roles where his work will have high impact in industry.
When asked about what he’s most looking forward to at Waterloo, Scott quips, “Definitely the people. I’m incredibly excited to meet people with experiences that are very different from mine.”
Caroline Huang, Computer Science
Caroline was a science fair kid, who copped the “Best in Fair” award twice for her projects featuring ambitious ideas and computational modelling, some of which drew comparisons between slime mould to map nerve networks and chaos theory to analyze tumour blood vessel growth. Her passion for technology is why she’ll call Waterloo home.
“I also knew I wanted to study computer science because my first science fair project investigated the computational abilities of a funky protist called slime mould that can solve mazes despite being an often-overlooked ancient blob. Since programming its biological mechanisms into code in grade 9, all my projects have involved at least a little bit of computer science.”
“I kept hearing about the University of Waterloo’s reputation in high-tech and attending Hack the North last fall increased my excitement to join the Waterloo community,” she adds.
Caroline’s research plans include exploring how we can build less biased AI and the ethics of what fairness even looks like. She hopes to one day lead an interdisciplinary research lab that interfaces seemingly disparate topics.
Manasva Katyal, Computer Science
From a young age, Manasva has always found himself fascinated with technology and aviation. His skill and promise in the technology field led him to hold several leadership positions in high school and his community, including running his high school’s computer science club and supporting the organizing of a hackathon for the Halton District School Board.
He has been an air cadet for the past six years and received his glider pilot licence just last year. This summer, he was in Manitoba as one of the top six air cadets across the country chosen to train for their private pilot license.
Determined to enter the industry where his two passions can collide, Manasva shared the two reasons Waterloo is his university of choice.
“The first is its solid reputation in computer science and engineering. Not only was this important to me from an academic standpoint, but it also meant I would meet like-minded people [during] my program. The second reason is Waterloo’s widely renowned co-op program, which I feel would offer me the experiential learning and preparation needed for when I graduate.”
When he’s not going for flights in a glider, Manasva also enjoys playing Legends of Zelda — his favourite video game — and spending time with his little brother.
Josephina Kim, Computer Science and Business (double degree)
Josephina is passionate about the arts and fashion and spends her free time dancing, window shopping and watching fashion shows online.
But Josephina is also interested in computer science, sparked by her gradual exposure to technology growing up and the time spent on her high school’s robotics team. Her interest in technology only grew during her time at Shad Waterloo over the summer — a month-long program for grade 10 and 11 students — offering them pan-Canadian classrooms with university-level STEAM and entrepreneurship content and access to mentors.
“I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of joy and shock. I had not been expecting to hear back at all due to the immense competition, so it was a fantastic surprise,” Josephina recalls of the moment she received the golden email.
“I’m excited to meet like-minded people as well as those who bring unique perspectives so that we can learn from each other.”
Keeping an open mind for where her future career would take her, Josephina hopes to eventually work on projects with real positive social impacts.
Learn more about the ten Schulich Leaders joining Waterloo this fall in the article by Darren McAlmont of Waterloo’s University Relations.