4 N.L. university students receive hefty, prestigious Schulich scholarships

Four first-year university students from Newfoundland and Labrador have been awarded the prestigious Schulich Leaders scholarship for students studying science, technology, engineering and math.

Students win $80K and $100K awards to study STEM

Clockwise from top left, Jason Matthews, Samantha Morgan, Norman Chen and Isaac Buckingham are Newfoundland and Labrador's Schulich Leaders for 2022. The scholarship is for students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (Memorial University, University of Waterloo and University of New Brunswick)

Four first-year university students from Newfoundland and Labrador have been awarded the prestigious Schulich Leaders scholarship for students studying science, technology, engineering and math.

Three of those students — Norman Chen of St. John's, Samantha Morgan of Colliers and Isaac Buckingham of Corner Brook — were each awarded a $100,000 scholarship, while Jason Matthews of Pasadena received $80,000.

Canadian businessman Seymour Schulich established the scholarship fund in 2012 for high school students entering university. Every high school in the country can submit one nominee per year. 

More than 1,400 students from across Canada were nominated for the awards, but only 100 were selected to study at one of 20 partner universities in the country. 

Photo of the University of Waterloo sign
Chen will study software engineering at the University of Waterloo. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

In a press release, Schulich said with school expenses covered, the scholarship will allow students to focus on their "studies, research projects, extracurricular and entrepreneurial ventures."

"They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators," Schulich said.

Chen, who had a 99 per cent average in high school and studied chemistry and biology in the international baccalaureate program, believes his grades were a big factor in winning the scholarship but so were his extracurricular activities, like swimming and chess.

"I did play chess provincially. I did go to nationals, I think it was nine times in my 11 years that I did play, so that might help too," he said.

Chen, now studying software engineering at the University of Waterloo, said since he won the scholarship he doesn't have to worry about his finances, and can concentrate on school, which so far has been difficult.

"The first day we had a lot of stuff to do already and it's a very competitive school too, so everyone's trying their best," he said.

Chen doesn't know where he wants his studies to take him yet, but would like to develop some sort of app to help people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Two of the 2022 Schulich Leaders, Morgan and Matthews, chose to study STEM at Memorial University. (Paul Daly/CBC)

Morgan, who is studying engineering at Memorial University, said she was shocked to learn she'd been named a 2022 Schulich Leader.

"I just never expected that I would win such a prestigious scholarship," Morgan said.

Morgan said she wants to study electrical engineering and eventually work at Tesla, and later either Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

"I'm really interested in electric cars and how they work and how we can improve the electric grid itself to allow for more electric cars to be used," said Morgan.

Morgan believes her grades and extracurricular activities also made her application stand out from 1,400 others. She said she was involved in many school clubs, tutoring, anti-bullying initiatives, and her high school's Green Team, which promoted recycling and composting and set up greenhouses.

Fall foliage is in the foreground, with two red brick campus buildings in the background
Buckingham, who is studying engineering at the University of New Brunswick, will receive $100,000 to go toward his education. (University of New Brunswick)

Morgan said she considered studying at universities outside the province, but in the end chose Memorial University.

"I'm really close with my family, so I think ultimately, at the end of the day, even though I did consider other universities, I knew in my heart that it would always be MUN," she said.

Morgan, the only female from the province awarded the scholarship, says women can sometimes feel a little intimidated going into science, technology, engineering and math.

"It's still really dominated by men. But all of the women in STEM — it's just such a community with everybody supporting each other," she said.

In a press release, the University of New Brunswick said Isaac Buckingham, the third scholar from the province, was chosen because of his academic achievements and because of his involvement in Shad, a month-long STEM program for students in grades 10 and 11, and participation in the Canada Games representing Team N.L. in alpine skiing and beach volleyball.

The fourth recipient, Jason Matthews, was awarded a slightly smaller scholarship worth $80,000. In a press release, Memorial University said he will study a joint honours degree in computer science and statistics.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go and The St. John's Morning Show