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Fort McMurray student wins $60K Schulich scholarship

It's been a whirlwind of activity for Fort McMurray student Linda Guo, who escaped a raging fire, earned a medal at a national science fair, and won a prestigious $60,000 scholarship - all within the span of a few weeks.

Linda Guo starts medical school this fall

Linda Guo, a grade 12 student at Westwood Community High School has just won a coveted $60,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship. (Wood Buffalo Regional Science Fair)

It's been a whirlwind of activity for Fort McMurray student Linda Guo, who escaped a raging fire, earned a medal at a national science fair, and won a prestigious $60,000 scholarship — all within the span of a few weeks. 

Guo was getting ready to claim her bronze medal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Montreal in late May, when she received an email saying she had won a prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship.

The Westwood Community High School graduate wasn't even sure she'd be able to compete at the fair because the monstrous fire was threatening her hometown. 

"I found that especially with the fire and the news coverage that we'd been getting because of the fire, I wanted our city to be known for something other than that — something more about its innovation or its resilience and the people that stand together," Guo said.

"I wanted to create a different side to the story."

Linda Guo's created a robotic aid that provided GPS navigation for the blind or visually impaired. It's small enough that you could put it on your clothing. Here it has been attached to a hat. (Kiran Malik-Khan)

Thanks to special arrangements, Guo arrived safely in Montreal in time to present her project, In-Sight.

The robotic device is designed to help the visually impaired navigate obstacles through detection by an ultrasonic sensor and communication through vibration motors and speakers.

Next stop medical school

An aspiring doctor, Guo will enter the medical sciences program at Western University this fall.

My goal is to develop vaccines for different types of cancers and incorporate robotic technologies into the diagnosis and treatment of patients- Linda Guo, Grade 12 student 

"My goal is to develop vaccines for different types of cancers and incorporate robotic technologies into the diagnosis and treatment of patients," she said.

"I am willing to dedicate my life to this cause, because to me, there is no greater reward than making a difference," she added.

The Schulich Leader Scholarships are awarded to high school graduates enrolling in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at select universities in Canada and Israel.

Jessica Roy, principal of Westwood high school, said Guo fits the Schulich scholarship criteria perfectly.

"Not only does Linda excel academically, but her empathy for others, creative vision and genuine excitement about the future are inspiring to us all," Roy said in a statement.

"It has been a tremendous pleasure having Linda as a Westwood student and we wish her the very best in her future."

This program awards 50 scholarships annually, valued at more than $5 million. 

"There are too many things that I feel and not enough words to express it," said Guo.

"I'm honoured for the opportunities that I've been given, and I hope to honour the prestige that the Schulich Foundation is looking to inspire in all of their innovators."


With files from Alberta@Noon

With files from Alberta@Noon