Like many students, the first thing Rianna Dutta does when she wakes up each morning is check her phone.
“I was in bed when I learned that I had won the scholarship,” says Dutta, 17, a graduate of Western Canada High School in Calgary. “I looked at my phone, saw the email and I was thrilled.”
Dutta is one of six McGill 2021 Schulich Leader Scholars from across Canada who will receive one of the country’s premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) scholarships. Her reaction of surprise and delight was shared by all of this year’s scholarship recipients including two additional Faculty of Engineering students: Jessie Kurtz and Gabrielle Lavoie, and three students enrolling in the Faculty of Science: Ivy Guo, Stephen Lu and Albert Nitu. The three Engineering students will each receive a $100,000 scholarship, while the three Science students will each receive an $80,000 scholarship.
Each scholarship opens doors to students eager to fully embrace a McGill experience inside – and outside – the classroom.
“This scholarship will allow me to focus on extracurricular activities,” says Gabrielle Lavoie, 17, a graduate of École secondaire publique De La Salle in Ottawa. “I certainly intend to participate in research projects, entrepreneurial ventures or design teams like McGill Formula Electric [building 100% electric race cars] and McGill Robotics [a robot-building engineering design team].”
“From design to software development to data science, these are skills that I want to hone at McGill,” says Stephen Lu, 19, a graduate of Marianopolis College in Montreal. “Over the past two years, I co-founded a health tech company called Hero AI (a successful start-up optimizing in-patient care through digital health and AI automation). At McGill, I can tap into a world-class network of distinguished individuals for mentorship, guidance, and perhaps even future collaboration.”
“I plan on marrying science and entrepreneurship in my career,” says Jessie Kurtz, 18, a graduate of Champlain College Saint-Lambert in Saint-Lambert, Quebec. “My ultimate goal is to upscale laboratory advances in clean technology and make them accessible for enterprises to use worldwide. Whether it’s carbon capture technologies to reduce emissions from power plants, or solutions to reduce waste from consumer goods.”
No matter what path they follow at McGill, the scholarships will have a major impact on the lives, studies and future careers of the University’s bicentennial cohort of Schulich Leaders.
“It will certainly be life-changing,” says Guo, 18, a graduate of Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute in Toronto. “No longer bound by financial constraints, I am free to enrich my student life and focus on my studies. Receiving mentorship as part of the Schulich Leader Network will also kickstart my career in the direction I want to go.”
“It means a lot to be able to attend a university with world-class education and a heavy emphasis on cutting-edge scientific research,” says Albert Nitu, 18, a graduate of Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ottawa “My hope is to lead a start-up that integrates deep learning, hardware engineering, and molecular neuroscience to pioneer new treatments for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and spinal cord injuries.”
Schulich Leader Scholarships are Canada’s largest scholarship program and doubled in size (from 50 to 100 annual scholarships) last year and in 2021. Out of a pool of more than 350,000 potential candidates across Canada, 1,400 students were nominated. Fifty scholarship winners received $100,000 to pursue an engineering degree and 50 received $80,000 to pursue a science, technology or mathematics degree at one of 20 Canadian partner universities
The selection of this year’s six recipients brings to 30 the number of Schulich Leader Scholarships awarded to incoming McGill students since the program’s inception.
“We are proud to celebrate 10 years of Schulich Leader Scholarships, the premier STEM scholarship program in Canada and the world,” says program founder Seymour Schulich, BA’61, MBA’65, DLitt’04. “With their university expenses covered, these students can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators,”
“I would like to thank Seymour Schulich for his generous contributions towards STEM students,” says Dutta. “This scholarship will have an immense impact on my life, and the lives of many others, and I am so grateful for this opportunity.”