Superstar new students honoured with Schulich scholarships

- July 12, 2012

Julia Pennell (left) and Lauren Atkinson. (Photos from Schulich Foundation)
Julia Pennell (left) and Lauren Atkinson. (Photos from Schulich Foundation)

In its first year, the Canadian Schulich Leader Scholarships program, which provides undergraduates with entrance scholarships at select universities, had a welcome problem – too many applicants.

The result?

Seymour Schulich opted to double the number of scholarships offered, awarding 40 entrance scholarships rather than the intended 20. Welcome news for Julia Pennell of Pasadena, N.L. and Lauren Atkinson of Halifax, N.S. who both received scholarships for their undergraduate study at Dalhousie.

Decision maker

On a call between coaching shifts in Pasadena, Ms. Pennell confesses that, until she received word that she had received the Schulich Scholarship, she was undecided on where she would be in September.

“I feel like Dalhousie chose me,” says Ms. Pennell. “Schulich definitely influenced my decision; you could say they made my choice for me.”

After learning from her guidance counselor that she had been nominated for the scholarship—each high school is allowed one nominee—she kept the news to herself. “My parents were so excited, they wanted to tell everyone, but I never thought I would get it.”  

How did she react upon hearing the news? “I burst into tears when I opened the envelope from Dal,” explains Mr. Pennell, who drove home to her parents' house and ran in the door crying. “They thought I’d been in an accident,” she explains.

Ms. Pennell, who in her final year at Pasadena Academy, served as student council president, volleyball coach and self-admittedly “wasn’t very good” at clarinet in the senior band. She plans to pursue a science degree during her time in Dalhousie, with the ultimate goal of studying medicine.

To be considered for the Schulich Leader Scholarship, a student had to be nominated by their high school, secondary school or CEGEPS, and have plans to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Following their submission, the nominated candidate may apply to the Canadian university at which they intend to study.

Participating universities are responsible for selecting their Schulich Leaders, with the recipients earning an entrance scholarship valued at $60,000 CAD. Selections are based on two of three criteria: outstanding community/business leadership, academic excellence and financial need.

Sharing a vision

Dalhousie’s other Schulich Leader Scholarship recipient, Lauren Atkinson, shares with Ms. Pennell the goal of a career in medicine. “I chose Dalhousie because of the incredible science and medical school that it has. I have always dreamt of being a Dalhousie student, and of being a surgeon, so it works together well.”

A recent graduate of J.L. Ilsley High School in Halifax, Ms. Atkinson spearheaded fundraising initiatives at her high school, volunteered with the school’s breakfast club, prom committee and was a member of the school’s soccer and rugby teams, among other things.

But she’s more than just your average teenager.

“I think a big difference from me and a lot of the other applicants is that aside from having a good academic average and being involved with a lot of volunteering, I also had been taking care of my dying mother,” explains Ms. Atkinson. “At the time of application, I was trying to deal with school, work, volunteering and being an only child with a single mother who was very sick with ALS.”

Ms. Atkinson is enthusiastic about the year ahead and being, first and foremost, a student. “I am really looking forward to the freedom of university, but also the opportunity to be in classes that I know I will enjoy. There are so many opportunities to make new friends and be in a whole different atmosphere.”


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