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Crafting a legacy: Ispeeta Ahmed’s Journey as a Schulich Scholar Leader

Posted by Engineering Communications on March 7, 2024 in News
Ispeeta Ahmed
Ispeeta Ahmed

Ispeeta Ahmed is not just pursuing an engineering degree; she’s crafting a legacy.

The proud recipient of the Schulich Leaders Scholarship, the vibrant and dynamic student is now in the second year of her electrical engineering degree. With a keen desire to make a lasting impact, Ahmed hopes to do more than merely create waves in the field of engineering. She hopes to utilize the scholarship to become a beacon of inspirations and guidance for future Dal engineering leaders.   

Her academic journey so far is a testament to the transformative impact of the Schulich Leader Scholarship program. Freed from the financial constraints of higher education, Ahmed has seized the opportunity to not only propel her own academic endeavors but to also support and enhance the academic experiences of her peers. She’s quick to note that her passion and drive to help others is fueled by the inspiring stories of former Dal Engineering students, in particular, Sierra Sparks who was awarded a Rhodes Scholar in 2020.

“While academics are crucial to focus on as a student, it is the leadership and outreach roles one does that positively affect your undergraduate experience” She says.
“It’s rewarding to learn to become a leader, but it is equally exciting to be in a position to impact, enhance and give others the resources to lead.”

With plans to continue on to graduate studies following her undergraduate degree, Ahmed hopes to one day pursue a career in academic and research where she can create tangible solutions that improve people’s lives. Her vision is a shining example of how Schulich leaders exemplify academic excellence, leadership, and charisma.

The Schulich Leader Scholarship program is awarded annually to 100 high school students from across Canada, recognizing exceptional individuals with promising potential in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Recipients, known as Schulich Leaders, become part of a distinguished community of scholars dedicated to making substantial contributions to their respective fields and inspiring positive change in the world.

Choosing her path

Growing up with an interest in math, physics, and biology, Ahmed recognized the transformative power of electrical devices, and a calling to explore opportunities within the diverse field of engineering.

"As a kid, I was interested in those beginner robotics kits that my mom bought for me, and I was excited when I realized that I could one day do this as a job. Not only as a job, but as a gateway into creating and innovating solutions to help people,” she explains. “With an engineering degree you can quite literally create any product or device that can help humanity.”

A high school student in the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Ahmed’s decision to pursue electrical engineering at Dalhousie was fueled by the desire for diversity and a strong sense of community. “Dalhousie Engineering was my first choice, and the scholarship was just the cherry on top,” she says. The sense of belonging she found within her engineering program, affirmed her decision.

“I had always heard really good things about Dal Engineering’s program and now that I’m in it, I can see how much of a community it is,” she adds. “I can see it compared to my peers in any other undergraduate program. Here I know everyone in my class, I know upper year students, and staff. Sexton is much more of a community.”

Actively involved in that community, Ispeeta has taken on several leadership roles. Currently the VP Academics of the Diploma of Engineering Society (DES), she leads initiatives to enhance education and curriculum, supporting students with their academic struggles. She was also involved with the Dalhousie Women in Engineering Society in creating its annual Go Eng Girl Conference, engaging young female high school students around Nova Scotia interested in exploring the field of engineering.

This year, Ahmed became a starting member of Dalhousie’s Tetra society, an initiative that showcases her commitment to fostering innovation and inclusivity within the engineering community.

“I’m very passionate about engineering and its societal impacts, and the Tetra Society at Dalhousie is a new society that is very community oriented. We get requests from people in the community with disabilities or other issues that they are having, and as engineers, we come up with solutions to solve those problems,” she explains.”

Journey of Resilience

Reflecting on the pressure she initially felt to prove herself within the university community, Ispeeta admits that the weight of winning prestigious awards such as the Schulich Leader Scholarship program and Ingenium-NSERC STEM Horizon Awards sometimes brings about “imposter syndrome.” However, Ahmed, who is also a Sexton Scholar, an NSERC USRA award winner, and a 3-Minute Thesis Summer Research Contest winner, says within the nurturing community of Dalhousie Engineering, she found a supportive environment that alleviated those doubts and allowed her to embrace opportunities, showcase her passions and overcome insecurities that lingered from her high school self.

“I want to thank Dalhousie for allowing me to have that kind of growth. Now when opportunities come up, I don’t have a hard time saying yes, even if it scares me. Even it seems way out of my realm,” she says.

Less than halfway through her degree, Ahmed says she looks forward to the multitude of opportunities ahead and the potential to influence the lives of her peers and future Dal engineering students, much like Sparks did for her.