This year, the University of Waterloo is pleased to welcome 10 new first-year students to its cohort, 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 the field of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  

For 12 consecutive years, the University of Waterloo has been called “home” for budding STEM scholars who are recipients of this award. Each scholarship recipient can expect 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 students.  

“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.” 

Get to know the 10 student scholars who will join Waterloo’s community this September. 

Ammielle Wambo BeckerAmmielle Wambo Becker, Systems Design Engineering 

Ammielle kept herself busy in high school and admits that she was “all over the place,” but only because of her eagerness to embrace discomfort and her passion for community involvement. Her activities included being a swimming instructor, a freelance writer and a teen advisor for Girl Up.  

Though many of her hobbies are far removed from the field of study she will pursue at Waterloo, Ammielle states that systems design engineering is a “perfect fit for [her]” as it combines her passion for problem-solving, technology and creativity. 

With dreams of launching her own tech startup at the intersection of biology and engineering, Ammielle hopes to explore building products that will have a positive impact on people’s lives. But building products isn’t the only thing she’s planning on doing.  

“I want to get involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, Women in Engineering, UW Startups, and the Women's Centre,” she emphasizes. 

Some of Ammielle’s proudest achievements to date include founding and leading her school’s newspaper club, organizing a regional STEM conference for elementary school students, winning a few hackathons and completing two internships.  

Evie BouganimEvie Bouganim, Mechatronics Engineering 

For as long as she could remember, Evie loved solving problems, learning new things, and spending most of her free time on the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team, where she held several leadership positions. That’s why it’s no surprise that she’s found a great match with the mechatronics engineering program.   

Evie says she’s most looking forward to “being in a program that’s tailored to content I love and being surrounded by like-minded peers.”  

She has aspirations to lead the design and development of robotics and automation systems with specific application to the biotechnology industry when she graduates.  

The choice to attend Waterloo was a no-brainer for Evie after feeling “welcomed” with every EngChat match and club fair she attended on campus, but it is the university’s “prestigious engineering, co-op programs and faculty that made the decision easy,” she says. 

Brandon De LazzariBrandon De Lazzari, Co-operative Physics

Brandon has always been drawn to understanding the world at its most fundamental level, which fueled his interest in physics. He’s also deeply invested in unraveling the underlying principles that govern the universe, which is why he plans to pursue a career in research, with a focus on quantum, particle, or plasma physics.  

“I plan to use the co-op opportunities provided by the University of Waterloo to help determine which of these fields I would like to work in,” he says.  

Surprisingly (or not), Brandon’s proudest achievement isn’t science-related or engineering-based – it is about music.  

“I have had the privilege of performing with three spectacular bands as a tuba player: two celebration bands, and my school's concert ensemble. Through these opportunities, I was exposed to the idea of music as a community and the art of creating it.”  

He is most looking forward to experiencing the clubs and societies that Waterloo has to offer. But aside from science and music, he enjoys board games, video games, hiking, chess and pottery. Brandon hopes to find a pottery club on campus, but is excited about the prospect of building his own pottery community if there isn’t.

Eric GaoEric Gao, Systems Design Engineering 

Eric first developed his passion for technology many years ago when he listened to Steve Jobs’ talks on the intersection between engineering and the humanities. That’s why he hopes his Waterloo learnings will equip him with the knowledge to not only build technology that can solve problems – but technology that is also human-centered in its design. 

Truly passionate about humanity, Eric is the president of Project 5K, a non-profit youth organization that promotes and creates volunteer opportunities for youth in the GTA. His proudest achievement to date is an event he organized called Project Valentine. 

“Project Valentine gets volunteers to create Valentine's Day cards which are distributed to frontline workers. This year, I had an idea to leverage the connections I made at the Shad program to run Project Valentine in other provinces. In the end, we were able to run Project Valentine in 6 provinces!” 

Curious and solutions-oriented, Eric envisions a career that would allow him to seek and discover solutions in social interaction, education, sustainability and frugal science.  

“My main goal is to build tools that can empower anyone to use their talents for good regardless of their circumstances,” he says.

Mikael HajiMikael Haji, Electrical Engineering 

With a passion for engineering and neurotech revolution, Mikael has an unwavering goal of being at the helm of a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) start-up in five years, right after he graduates from Waterloo.  

Having worked on over 15 projects with top BCI companies like Neuralink and Blackrock Neurotech, Mikael shared that he is eager for the opportunity to collaborate with esteemed faculty and students on innovative projects, while also having access to state-of-the-art research facilities like the VIP and eBionics Labs. 

From being the youngest intern at Neurotech to presenting a keynote address about his work in BCIs to an audience of over 1,500 people in Dubai, Mikael is already on his way to achieving his dreams. 

“One standout moment was winning the $250K Solving the Impossible Award by Dragon's Vault for my work in BCIs,” he says. 

When he’s not exploring new technologies and keeping up with advancements in the engineering field, Mikael enjoys biking as it helps to keep him centered and manage stress.  

Asked about what he’s most looking forward to at Waterloo, Mikael states: "Through co-op opportunities, I’ll gain 24 months of invaluable experience across industry verticals, including material science and data processing. I am confident that Waterloo will accelerate my growth as a visionary in the field of BCIs, and I look forward to being a part of its rich history of innovation and excellence in engineering."

Scott HaoScott Hao, Computer Science 

He’s an avid sports fan and was also involved in the debate clubs, but Scott’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!” 

Looking forward, 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 HuangCaroline 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 modeling, some of which drew comparisons between slime mold 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 mold 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. 

Mahi JoshiMahi Joshi, Computer Engineering 

Excited about her prospects of a successful career in software engineering and making a positive impact in the tech industry through her own start-up, Mahi’s passion for engineering was sparked at the University of Waterloo’s Catalyst Conference for Grade 11 Girls in Engineering.  

“This unique opportunity offered exposure to engineering at Waterloo and led to an enlightening conversation with a professor in the RoboHub, which further solidified my interest!” Mahi explains.  

Already showing great promise in changing the world for the greater good, Mahi recollects being part of a team of five who won a Micro:bit Hackathon, where her team's project focused on improving accessibility for visually impaired individuals by making braille and text-to-speech more accessible. Her team was also invited to showcase their project to Microsoft's accessibility team.  

When asked what she was most looking forward to at Waterloo, Mahi shares “The co-op program is one of the highlights for me. I'm thrilled about the opportunity to gain real-world work experience while still being a student.”  

She is also excited about meeting new STEM enthusiasts to collaborate on pushing boundaries and exploring new frontiers. 

Manasva KatyalManasva 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 lead 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, receiving his glider pilot licence (GPL) 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 KimJosephina 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 11s, 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.