Six young women entering STEM disciplines have been awarded a 2016 University of Waterloo HeForShe IMPACT scholarship.
Incoming Science students Stephanie Swanson (pictured left) and Emily Carlson (pictured right) were among the recipients.
Emily Carlson - Mathematical Physics
Emily Carlson dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina but ultimately her curiosity about the world and her fascination with the work of the late physicist Richard Feynman - led her to pursue an academic career.
Learning occurs in both academia and the arts. But academia is where I can discover new things,” said Carlson. “It was an accumulation of all of my experiences that lead me to want to study mathematical physics.
Carlson, who studied ballet in her hometown of Vancouver, credits her parents and ballet master Li Yamming for supporting her dream of becoming a professor.
“Professors are a very diverse set of people and I enjoy working with people from different backgrounds,” said Carlson. “Everyone brings their own experiences and thoughts to contribute to the community of knowledge.”
Carlson points out that her ballet studies gave her confidence and taught her discipline, devotion and dedication - the very life skills that will carry her through her mathematical physics studies. She chose the University of Waterloo after a campus visit where she learned about the physics and mathematics professors and appreciated the close knit community feel.
She tells young women to do what they love.
“Everyone has a beautiful gift if they look inside themselves and listen to their desires,” said Carlson.
Stephanie Swanson - Physics
Stephanie Swanson, whose role model is the late Nobel-prize winning physicist Marie Curie, dreams of becoming a teacher one day so she can share her love of science and math with others.
Swanson had a teacher who pushed her to excel, and in her final year of high school coached her through a national neuroscience competition in which Swanson placed second.
My teacher was behind me the whole way with support, advice and endless enthusiasm.
More importantly, the teacher was one of the people who helped Swanson, who is studying physics at Waterloo, overcome her shyness.
“When I was younger I was very shy, to the point of debilitation. Over the course of the last couple of years, I have really pushed myself to exude confidence and take on leadership roles in my community,” said Swanson. “It has been unbelievably rewarding and life changing.”
Swanson ran the Gay Straight Alliance at her high school and founded a science club that featured expert guest speakers in all science disciplines.
Swanson was drawn to Waterloo because of its co-operative education program.
“It’s such a great opportunity to get some genuine and varied experience in the workplace,” she said.
The other four recipients were: Anjali Joshi and Carmen Kwan (both Engineering) as well as Yue Ding and Ankita Mishra (both Computer Science).
HeForShe IMPACT Scholarships
Launched last year, the scholarship program will support a total of 24 women over a four-year period as part of Waterloo’s ongoing efforts to achieve gender equity in STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - programs.
The University of Waterloo is one of ten universities around the world to join the United Nations HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 campaign, a global commitment launched to promote gender equity.