Meet Waterloo’s 2020 Schulich Leaders cohort
More than doubling last year’s recipient pool, incoming students are recognized with $80,000 and $100,000 scholarships
More than doubling last year’s recipient pool, incoming students are recognized with $80,000 and $100,000 scholarshipsBy Angelica Sanchez and Natalie Quinlan University Relations
A group of exceptionally talented incoming students are making their way to Waterloo with a prestigious scholarship in tow.
Thanks to a $100+ million investment by businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, Waterloo has more than doubled its recipient pool from previous years allowing selected students pursuing STEM to begin their post-secondary careers with an extra $80,000 or $100,000.
Out of a selection of more than 300,000 potential candidates across Canada, 1,500 high school students are nominated annually, of which 100 received this celebrated award.
Read more about each recipient below.
Anish Aggarwal was at home checking his email minutes before his online physics class when he received the notification of his Schulich win. In the midst of sharing the exciting news with his parents, Aggarwal almost forgot about checking into his online class — arriving 15-minutes late, something out of the ordinary for the straight-A student.
“The scholarship gave me a great feeling,” Aggarwal says. “The news came the day before my birthday, so I felt it to be an early birthday present.”
For Aggarwal, the decision to attend the University of Waterloo was an easy one. His interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) led Aggarwal to connect with Waterloo alumni to hear about their student experiences. He quickly learned that Waterloo would be able to provide students with the exposure to the latest technological processes.
“I am looking forward to being able to work with alumni such as Chris Eliasmith (BASc '94, MA '95) to further advance AI and virtual reality,” Aggarwal says. “I would also like to take advantage of the startup incubators — such as Velocity — to focus on group projects where I will be able to collaborate with my peers and develop both my interpersonal skills and lasting relationships.”
His passion for AI and AR stem from his high school experience where he became fluent in computer programming and development. Aggarwal has taken part in many hackathons including Hack the North and The Reality Virtually Hackathon hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Despite being the youngest team in MIT’s Reality Virtually, Aggarwal and his team won the Best Use of Vive Headset API award, for using an app that fosters augmented reality to help customize exercise plans for the elderly.
These experiences fueled his passion to develop programs and enroll in the Computer Science program. Aggarwal hopes that his experience from the co-operative program will prepare him for a future pathway in an innovative and entrepreneurial career.
This Fall Term, Hanna will be joining the 2020 cohort of Nanotechnology Engineering. In her future, Hanna hopes to pursue entrepreneurship so she can match nanotechnology engineers with promising careers.
“I hope that as an engineer, I will be able to help solve world issues from a variety of fields innovatively and create opportunities for future nanotechnology ambassadors as well.”
Dhruv Upadhyay was working on school assignments when he was notified of his Schulich Leader win.
“After rereading the email multiple times to make sure that I hadn’t misread, I ran into my parent’s room screaming and hugged them. They were really confused about what happened, and I tried to tell them, but I was so excited I couldn’t even form the words in my mouth,” Upadhyay recalls.
Upadhyay decided to attend the University of Waterloo because of its reputation as a trailblazer in innovation and research. Having witnessed prestigious faculty such as Donna Strickland awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2018 and the high rate of successful companies graduating from Waterloo’s strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, Upadhyay knew Waterloo was the place for him.
Beginning his studies with the Faculty of Engineering this fall, Upadhyay has always been captivated by robotics.
“I chose Mechatronics because of my passion for understanding how different systems interact with each other to form complex systems. This interest solidified into a definite field of study when I took part in activities such as the Air Cadet program where I had the opportunity to attain my glider pilot’s license and teach other cadets about aviation.”
Upadhyay has also earned his second-degree black belt in Taekwondo and is a youth representative at the Durham Environmental Advisory Committee. He was introduced to the power of entrepreneurship when he co-founded a social enterprise tackling the plastic waste issue southeast Asia, and further realized the potential of technology to solve real world issues in a bioinformatics research internship. He hopes to one day incorporate his love for the outdoors into a business, leveraging what he’s learned through Velocity incubator and co-operative education program.
“I’m a firm believer in the potential of technology to be leveraged to solve some of our biggest problems and aim to develop a startup that does just that.”
One of Jacob Mausberg’s biggest accomplishments is graduating high school with a more than 99 per cent average. Juggling 10 courses with a second language, Mausberg balanced high academics alongside a busy soccer schedule, playing competitively four times a week and representing a U16 Canadian soccer team in one of the world’s largest international competitions.
This fall, Mausberg will be joining the Faculty of Mathematics as a Computer Science student. His love for mathematics began in elementary school, where he discovered the beauty and creativity of math and has been mesmerized by it ever since.
“One of my favourite quotes is by Galileo, 'mathematics is the language of the universe.' For me, math and computer science is one of the most exciting entry points for learning about the world and for thinking about ways to innovate and make positive change.”
Looking forward to his first day at Waterloo, Mausberg is excited to “explore math, physics and computer science in more depth and rigour.” He’s already anticipating grad school, with the possibility of a PhD in his future to fuel his love of learning, while also looking forward to being part of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial culture.
To maintain a work-life-balance as he continues his studies remotely, Mausberg will continue to embrace his love of soccer, a sport he started playing competitively at the age of eight.
“The training, playing and staying in top physical form takes up a significant chunk of time. But I love every minute of it, and it mentally helps to balance my very rigorous school year,” Mausberg says. “The key this year for me will come down to structuring my time in a productive way that is disciplined and based on routine. Good sleep habits and waking up the same time every morning and putting in a full workday will be critical to staying on top of things.”
Jason Xiong was in the middle of online classes when he received the email about his Schulich win. Calling out in excitement, he immediately shared the good news with his family just across the hall.
As a Schulich Leader, Xiong strives to solve real-world challenges using technology and innovation. This year, he was a winner of the LTS Analytics Talent Award in the Big Data Challenge, with his research to be published in the STEM Fellowship Journal. Along with his team, Xiong harnessed extensive datasets in creating a machine learning model that predicts hurricane frequency and intensity to aid in disaster relief.
Xiong was also a competitor at the International Young Physicists Tournament, where he developed invaluable skills in academic research and helped Canada receive its highest placement to date. Through these experiences, Xiong has come to share his love of technology with others, as a speaker at his school's Girls in Tech Conference, and as an executive of his school's coding club, physics team and DECA chapter.
The 18-year-old says that the University of Waterloo has always stood out to him as a centre for innovation with a talented and driven community of student leaders.
“Many of the mentors and friends that have changed my life now attend the University of Waterloo — helping to build its internationally renowned reputation in STEM and computer science,” Xiong says. “I have already had the chance to meet some of Waterloo’s current Schulich Leaders, and it has been an incredibly welcoming experience that has me excited to see what lies ahead.”
Xiong will soon be joining the Computer Science program, where he looks forward to using his co-op placements to explore new cities and careers.
“I’m currently planning on pursuing my interest in the intersection between business and data science,” Xiong says. “With the help of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial resources, I’m excited to start solving new challenges alongside my peers.”
Peter Zhu says he started writing code since the beginning of his high school career. He believes that programming is the most accessible way for kids to create something “cool” out of technology.
“I think it was appealing to me not only because it allowed me to explore the art of engineering, but also because it let me realize my ideas through apps and scripts,” Zhu says. “Programming isn’t merely about creating software — it’s about creating ideas.”
Driven by his entrepreneurial mindset, Zhu is mostly proud of the awards he has received from presenting his projects at science fairs where a few awards were at an international level. In addition to his accolades, Zhu was an active student participating in all kinds of extra-curricular activities such as different sports teams and student-run clubs.
Zhu recognizes his growth in leadership to the list of innovative projects and research he has completed in high school that aims to solve current issues in our world. However, the 18-year-old believes that a student doesn’t need to win a big award or have a long list of achievements on their resume to be considered as a Schulich Leader.
“Accomplishments are often times just representative of the valuable traits a person may have,” Zhu says. “It’s a person’s diligence, resilience, confidence, humility, empathy and an effective mindset — I think these things are what’s really important.”
In light of the remote learning efforts happening all over the world, Zhu offers four pieces of advice for his fellow classmates — focus on one big task or goal, get a good night’s sleep, remove any distractions from your work area and if you have an important deadline to meet, set an earlier 24-hour deadline within your calendar to ensure you complete and submit your essay, exam or even a school application ahead of time.
“I definitely look forward to meeting people at Waterloo,” Zhu says. “I also anticipate challenging myself academically — my brain really needs a restart from this quarantine.”
Tara Ferguson was drawn to the Environmental Science program at the University of Waterloo because of the opportunity to gain field experience while pursuing her studies. Ferguson also found the Waterloo campus to be an ideal distance as she gets to experience the student independence and still be able to visit her hometown of Guelph.
“I fully realized the career pathway I wanted to take after conducting an investigation into algae as a protein source,” Ferguson says. “Through my field of study, I’m hoping to play a role in discovering those innovations and solutions that are crucial to making an impact.”
Throughout high school, Ferguson ensured to participate in many leadership positions that would lead up to her role as a Schulich Leader recipient. It’s a list of accomplishments that Ferguson juggled from being the Skip (team captain) of her curling team, to being part of the planning committee for her school’s annual charity fair, to getting involved in Model UN and running for her school’s cross country team. Ferguson also served as an executive member for the Ambassadors club — a club which paired new international students with Canadian students to help them acclimate to the school.
“I really enjoyed all those opportunities because they allowed me to participate in activities that I am passionate about,” Ferguson says. “It also gave me the chance to form meaningful friendships with people I wouldn’t otherwise have met.”
Now heading into her first-year of university, Ferguson is looking forward to the new challenges post-secondary education will bring, while also embracing some of the opportunities remote learning provides.
“To stay focused, I’m planning on removing as many distractions as possible from my desk area, as well as creating and following a schedule similar to what it would be like if I were learning in-person,” Ferguson says. “One thing that I’m looking forward to is cooking a good breakfast for myself in the mornings, since I haven’t had time in the past few years due to the long commute from my house to school.”
Tyler West says it has always been a dream for him to attend the University of Waterloo — hearing many great stories about the school from his father, a fellow Waterloo alumnus. But it wasn’t until West visited the Waterloo campus last fall when he knew it was the school for him.
“The University of Waterloo is a hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and action-oriented thinking that pushes the world forward,” West says. “All this combined with the amazing co-op program at the University really made me feel like this is a place that I wanted to be a part of and use as a springboard for my life and career.”
His dream became a reality when he received his $100,000 Schulich Leaders scholarship.
West credits his entrepreneurial spirit to help him stand out as a Schulich Leader recipient. Having already started a business — founded Create3D in grade ten — West pitched the business model in a local competition where he received second place and additional funding to continue his 3D printing services.
As a high-achieving student, West showcased his leadership skills best when participating in almost every extra-curricular activity. From sports teams to student-run council clubs and being elected twice as the Student Trustee for the Durham District School Board as an advocate and representative for thousands of students at a board level.
“I really like the fact that mechatronics provides such a wide base of knowledge by mixing hardware, software, computer science and mechanical aspects of engineering,” West says. “Together they give me the opportunity to work in several different careers or entrepreneurial ventures.”
In the fall, West will be studying mechatronics engineering. He looks forward to both the co-op and entrepreneurial opportunities that Waterloo has to offer. He aspires to participate in an international co-op placement such as working in a technological company in the Silicon Valley and potentially, become a founder and CEO of his own successful startup company.