When achievement meets ambition: Get to know Dal’s 2022 Schulich Leaders

- September 9, 2022

Dalhousie's 2022 Schulich Leaders. (Provided photos)
Dalhousie's 2022 Schulich Leaders. (Provided photos)

Dalhousie’s reputation for excellence in the STEM fields has once again drawn some of Canada’s promising young minds to its doors this fall — several arriving with one of the country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships in hand.

This year’s six recipients of the Schulich Leader Scholarships at Dal include three students entering the engineering program, two joining computer science (one of whom has deferred their studies until next year), and one set to study science.

Recipients of the Engineering award receive $100,000, with Computer Science and Science students being offered $80,000 for each year of study. That’s a total of $540,000 in funding offered to Dal students this year as part of the program, now in its eleventh year.

With such generous financial backing, Schulich Leaders at Dal — and those attending other universities — are well set up to focus fully on excelling in their studies and offering the most they can to their communities.

Schulich Leaders also benefit from entering a nation-wide community of like-minded youth and scholars dedicated to pushing the boundaries of science, engineering and technology through their studies and community initiatives. 

Read on to learn more about these remarkable individuals who promise to help create the technologies of tomorrow.

Ispeeta Ahmed, Engineering

(Antigonish, Nova Scotia)


Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I chose Engineering because it provides a clear outlet for innovation. I find it interesting that we all take the same physics and math courses but later end up working on entirely different projects and jobs from each other. So far, I am interested in a field like Biomedical Engineering because I want my work to benefit humans and engage in meaningful change, such as improving healthcare technology or revolutionizing medical procedures. I have experience building robots and Arduino circuits for projects, and it is very satisfying seeing the tangible outcomes of your work and thought process in designing a new machine/idea for the betterment of something!

What drew you to Dal?

Coming from a small town for all of high school, the lively city of Halifax helped me towards my choice of university. It is the perfect distance for learning independence while staying close to family. Also, the more I looked into Dalhousie, I realized that the university prioritizes learning beyond engineering lectures through unique extracurriculars and intriguing capstone projects. I like that since the first year is general, I can explore more of my interests among the disciplines and see where my interests lie!

What are you most looking forward to about being on campus?

I am super excited about the different societies and clubs on campus. I want to have an enriching university experience where I can delve into the technicalities of engineering while also exploring my other hobbies, practicing leadership and meeting new people. I am considering joining an engineering design team and the societies while also joining clubs that pertain to my hobbies and cultural identity!

Who or what inspires you?

My parents inspire me. Coming to Canada as international graduate students from Bangladesh and now working as university faculty, I saw them build a good life for us here from the ground up. It was not always easy and seeing their hard work has inspired me to continue the generational cycle of progress that benefits my family and even my community. Besides the work ethic they’ve instilled in me, they also taught me to appreciate life beyond work and academics, which is something everyone should learn to balance. Along with the note of family, I hope to inspire my younger sister to follow her passions since she is like a built-in best friend to me!

What have you been binge-watching or reading this summer?

I have been working as a student researcher at a lab in my town’s university (St. Francis Xavier University: Flux Labs) this summer, so I would say a lot of my reading has been through research articles and Arduino coding manuals! That said, I have been enjoying some time off watching Netflix and Disney+. Netflix releases interesting TV docs that often make you learn a new thing every time (for good or worse), so I like watching those while balancing with feel-good Disney/Pixar movies!

Mia Curry, Science

(Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia)


Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

At this point, I'm interested in studying astrophysics. I chose this course of study for two reasons, and these are what really excites me about it!  Firstly, many solar systems and planets are absolutely bonkers. For example, one insane planet rains molten glass sideways, and that's just the start of how crazy planets can be. Secondly, I was instantly drawn to astrophysics during my high school years because I was shown how interconnected humongous galaxies are to something miniature that we can simulate here on Earth!

What drew you to Dal?

To put it simply: the environment. For one, Dal's buildings are absolutely stunning, as they have a distinct look that draws you in. Secondly, it's situated in the heart of Halifax, giving you access to many different opportunities and events. Last but not least, there is the community. Dal has a strong sense of community, and you immediately feel right at home!

What are you most looking forward to about being on campus?

I'd say the atmosphere of a university learning environment. It has been challenging to establish a sense of a school environment over the past few years because we have had continual breaks in learning due to various lockdowns and online schooling. Regardless, I'm ecstatic to begin not only a new chapter in my life but an entirely new book! I have no idea what is going to happen, but I am very excited to see where it takes me! :)

Who or what inspires you?

I know it may seem strange, but curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge are what inspire me. Since I was a child, I've been fascinated by how things work. When I was younger, you could ask me literally any question in the world, and I would somehow have a comprehensive answer. This gradually escalated throughout my high school years and beyond. Instead of knowing everything, I wanted to understand why and how things work the way they do. This is why I want to go to university: I will be able to learn more about many topics, such as the absolute absurdity of space!

What have you been binge-watching or reading this summer?

Personally, I haven't been binge-watching or reading anything in particular, but I have been binge-playing a game called Minecraft. I've been playing this game for many years and it's a lot of fun; anyone of any age can play it. Because it's extremely similar to playing with a box of Legos. You get to put your imagination to use in an entirely new way and create whatever you want! In my Minecraft world, I've been working on constructing a medieval town complete with farmlands, numerous shops, and a ruined castle to boot!

Emma McFarlane, Engineering

(Sussex, New Brunswick)


Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I chose my program of study because of all the branches you can pursue and learn about during the duration of the program. I have also been surrounded by engineers at my workplace and home, so I was aware of the opportunities that were present in this field. However, what really pushed me to pursue this program was my love for math and science. 

What drew you to Dal?

Dalhousie has always been one of my top schools since a very young age. When I took a tour of the campus last fall, I fell in love with the city of Halifax and the beautiful campus that Dal offers. That was when I really focused my attention on getting accepted into this university and pursuing my education here.

What are you most looking forward to about being on campus?

I am most looking forward to being exposed to more people and making new friends. I am also looking forward to joining some intramural sports teams and enjoying the many services Dalplex has to offer. It is exciting to be part of a new community and I look forward to all the rewarding experiences that come with this change.

Who or what inspires you?

My grandmother inspires me. She has faced many hardships in her life, but she always ensures she is there for her family regardless of what she is experiencing. Twenty years ago, she battled breast cancer and has been cancer free ever since. My grandmother is the strongest and most persevering person I know. The challenges she has overcome have only made her wiser. She is a mentor to me, and I will be forever grateful for her guidance.

What have you been binge-watching or reading this summer?

I don’t watch much TV, and I haven’t had the opportunity to read much this summer, but I have watched several episodes of Chicago PD. I get bored easily while watching shows due to repetition, but I enjoy this particular show because every episode is vastly different from the last.

Related reading: First symposium supporting Black Canadian STEM education underway

Ryan Neal, Engineering

(Invermere, British Columbia)
 

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I have always been interested in Engineering and innovation around the world and thought it would be a cool thing to be a part of. I have been inspired by Elon Musk for a long time and the innovation by his companies.

What drew you to Dal?

I had applied to a handful of universities in many different parts of the country, and when it came down to finally choosing, Dal was situated in the most interesting city for me.

What are you most looking forward to about being on campus?

I am really looking forward to the experience of being on campus as well as meeting new people. Also, I am excited to discover a new city and experience the East coast of Canada.

Who or what inspires you?

Elon Musk and his companies Telsa, SpaceX and Neuralink have all been big interests of mine for a long time. Through stock trading I have been exposed to a lot of the innovation and successes of his work.

What have you been binge-watching or reading this summer?

I currently operate three businesses, so all of my time this summer has been dedicated towards growing and expanding them. My newest business consists of a car wrap shop where we do body work, wrapping and ceramic coating. As well, I have a holdings company specializing in stock options and real estate. Throughout the summer I am extremely busy leaving no time for Netflix binge watching and reading.


Natha Paquette, Computer Science

(Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)


Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I chose computer science because I love technology, I love solving problems through pure creation limited only by my ingenuity and perseverance. What excites me most is the opportunity to engage in discussions with my professors regarding the academic perspective of the field of computer science and how it can enable me to do better work in my current and future projects.

What drew you to Dal?

Well, honestly I'm a bit of a gym rat so the Dalplex was hugely attractive. More than that, however, I find the Halifax tech scene intriguing and I liked the idea of being able to make a difference on the ground floor. Not to mention initiatives such as ShiftKey Labs which only reinforced this excitement. The professors themselves also had a large impact on my decision, when I was reviewing the staff directory for the faculty of computer science, two things stuck out in the best way possible, firstly the diversity of the staff. Secondly the broad knowledge base of the staff with research ranging from genetics to AI all with a focus on computer science.

What are you most looking forward to about being on campus?

Again I can't lie the Dal Plex is probably the most exciting prospect for me personally. Coming from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, my access to fitness centers was limited. More than the Dalplex, I'm so excited to start meeting people from around the world. The diversity of ideas which come with a diversity of backgrounds amazes me and I can't wait to begin having out-of-the-box conversations.

Who or what inspires you?

My teachers inspire me more than anything, I say teachers in the most general sense, not simply academic instructors. What I find most inspiring about these people is that they believe in me so strongly that they would invest god knows how many hours enabling me to learn and develop. They would invest their most precious commodity, that is time, in me without expectation. It's this most sincere gesture that inspires me to succeed and pay forward their kindness.

What have you been binge watching or reading this summer?

Lately, I've begun reading more philosophy. In particular, I've been trying to read Nietzsche with limited success.

Nansi Hassoun, Computer Science

(Brantford, Ontario) 

Deferred start date until Fall 2023.
 

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I am currently enrolled in computer science. I was introduced to the field in a grade 10 class that I accidentally got enrolled in… Best mistake ever! I learned things that helped me to understand some of the “magic” behind computers, sparking my interest in the subject.

I am most excited by the prospect of building computer systems that benefit our world today. Advances in computing are at the heart of many significant changes made in our society in recent history, and I am excited to be a part of that.

What drew you to Dal?

What drew me to Dal is the community and research-focus offered. Speaking to the latter point, research is a big interest of mine, and I am excited to support the work being conducted here. As well, Halifax seems like a beautiful little city, and it is right by the ocean! I am really excited to spend time exploring it.

What are you most looking forward to about being on campus?

I am really looking forward to meeting other people attending Dal. The school attracts people from all across the world, so there are many opportunities to have interesting conversations and learn about different cultures. I am also looking forward to meeting other Schulich Leaders, joining clubs and sports, and exploring the campus.

Who or what inspires you?

It’s cheesy, but … I’m inspired by the things that make me go “Huh?” Or “Wow!” Feelings of confusion or awe inspire me to probe, investigate, and discover more about the world around me. I am confident I will have many of those moments during my time at Dal!

What have you been binge watching or reading this summer?

I have not read or watched much. I made it a priority to spend time outside or with friends this summer. I’m looking forward to reading Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life this month!


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