Meet Brianna Thomas, Science's 2021 Schulich Leader

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Schulich Leader Scholarships are a national undergraduate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) scholarship, established by businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators. This year, the Schulich Foundation is celebrating their tenth anniversary, and in 2021 they’ve awarded up to 100 scholarships to students across Canada entering university. Since 2012, the University of Waterloo has ranked as the top recipient with the largest number of qualifying applicants. Last year, the Schulich Foundation began providing Waterloo with more than double the number of awards.

Profile photo of Brianna Thomas with a red sweater and snow in the backgroundThis year, the Faculty of Science is pleased to welcome Schulich Leader Brianna Thomas to study life physics at Waterloo!

Brianna has loved science ever since she was little. Scientific projects and experiments with her father, including building circuits and paper maché volcanos, are where her passion for STEM began. Her scientific interests were nurtured through various experiences, such as science conferences, the Queen’s University’s Seven Eight Enrichment Days (SEEDS) program and through the amazing science teachers she’s learned from. In high school, Thomas was the project manager of her school’s Week of Remembrance, a unique leadership role where she coordinated various assemblies, events and fundraisers.

She was also involved with Link Crew, where she helped support new students transition into high school. She also enjoyed doing graphic design for a variety of school events and clubs, including designing t-shirts, posters and logos.

For Thomas, the key to having a good work-life balance is setting aside free time each day to pursue a hobby. Her hobbies include both science and arts pursuits.

Waterloo was always one of Thomas’ top choices for university because of its innovative environment and experiential learning opportunities.

“I found out I was a recipient of the Schulich Leader Scholarship while I was on a call practicing an online group presentation,” Thomas says. “When I saw the notification, I instinctively said ‘Oh my God’ and then just went silent for a few minutes as I kept rereading the letter. After receiving that news, I instantly knew I would be going to Waterloo, so that night I drove down to see the campus, and of course, its infamous geese.”

Thomas has been excited for university for as long as she can remember and believes that Waterloo offers an environment where she can grow both personally and academically. She is especially excited for the interdisciplinary nature of Life Physics and to be able to learn more about different areas of science.

Thomas loves seeing how the world works through the lenses of various scientific disciplines and in the future, she aspires to change the world for the better through scientific innovation.

“I am very pleased to welcome this year’s cohort of outstanding Schulich Leaders to Waterloo and to celebrate ten years of partnership with the Schulich Foundation,” says Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “I continue to be inspired by the passion these young change-makers have for discovery, disruption and building a better, more equitable world through STEM research and learning.”

To date, Waterloo has admitted 46 Schulich Leader Scholars, including the incoming 2021 cohort of Schulich Leaders. Learn more about the high-achieving students from Waterloo who have also received this prestigious national award.