With a passion for STEM, U of T’s 2020 Schulich Leaders fly high
The University of Toronto welcomes 10 top STEM students—the winners of Seymour Schulich’s scholarship program for Canada’s brightest potential leaders in engineering, science and mathematics.
Adele Crete-Laurence remembers the moment when she really started to feel like a leader. “In air cadets, I worked my way up to second-in-command of the whole squadron,” she explains. “As I stood in front of everyone on parade, I thought back to when I first started cadets and thought ‘that person in the front seems so old! And now, I’m that person’. It was just amazing.”
Stellar leadership skills not only propelled Crete-Laurence to the University of Toronto, but also to a prestigious, top-level entrance award: a Schulich Leader Scholarship.
Founded in 2011 by philanthropist Seymour Schulich through the Schulich Foundation, Schulich Leader Scholarships recognize Canadian students with academic excellence who exemplify leadership and embrace the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In 2020, the Schulich Foundation awarded Schulich Leader Scholarships to 10 U of T students. The scholarships last for four years and are valued at $80,000 for science, technology or mathematics students and $100,000 for engineering students. Recipients become part of the Schulich Leaders Network.
Young leaders with a passion for innovation and a love of STEM
That network is one of the things Crete-Laurence is most excited about, as she embarks on an engineering degree with plans to work on sustainability in aerospace. She loves meeting new people. “I’ve had a few experiences in a group with a lot of students that were very driven and had a lot of interests–like me–and it’s always a really energizing experience,” she says. “And I always leave it with just a lot of joy.”
Aaron D’Mello, who is studying computer science and hopes to launch a career in software development and artificial intelligence, agrees. “Meeting the Schulich Leaders from past years over calls online, that’s been great,” he says. An all-rounder in music, academics and athletics, D’Mello says collaborating with others is a big part of why he loves math so much.
“There’s definitely an answer to most questions, so there’s that instant feedback,” he says. “But even to get the answer, there are so many methods and perspectives you can take. Just collaborating with other people can give you more tools.” He smiles. “And when you finally get it…you have so much satisfaction out of finally cracking that problem!”
D’Mello led a team of more than 10 students to initiate a school-board-wide chess tournament in Ontario’s Durham Region—and wrote software to manage the player pairings. It’s a great example of technical innovation to solve problems combined with a deep love of the STEM field. Both aspects are vital to Seymour Schulich.
Seymour Schulich’s vision to make a difference in the lives of young tech innovators
An entrepreneur and a business leader, Seymour Schulich is one of Canada’s most generous philanthropists. He counts making a difference in the lives of young people among his proudest achievements. He has given $200 million to support the Schulich Leader Scholarship endowment and help launch the next generation of technology innovators.
Crete-Laurence hopes to be one of them. “Recently, I earned my pilot and glider licenses and became very passionate about aviation,” she says. “I know a lot of people say that we shouldn’t fly because it creates emissions, but aviation is a really key industry for travel, for trade, so it’s not effective if we just ignore it. I’m really interested in how we can make it greener and improve the technology through different forms of energy. As I’ve learned more about energy in physics class, I’ve become even more passionate about how technology and going green intersect.”
Proud partners in helping the next generation thrive as leaders
“Seymour Schulich embodies truly visionary leadership,” says U of T President Meric Gertler. “He sets a wonderful example for these ambitious students, as a successful entrepreneur and a leading light in Canadian philanthropy. “On behalf of the University of Toronto, I would like to thank him for enabling these exceptional students to join our academic community. We’re delighted to welcome them to U of T.”
“These inspiring students have the talent and commitment to lead our world to a positive future,” adds Sandy Welsh, the University’s Vice-Provost, Students. “Supporting them in exploring their passions and relieving financial stress allows them to focus on academic achievement and to take advantage of the University’s rich extra-curricular learning environment. We’re tremendously grateful to Mr. Schulich for his vision for educating the best and brightest of Canada’s diverse young generation, and thrilled to do our part in helping them thrive as leaders.”
The students are grateful too. “It was incredible to hear I got the Schulich Leader Scholarship,” says D’Mello. “The financial aspect is a really big deal because now I can focus on getting the most out of my education. But also, it’s just a huge honour. I’m really proud of it and I hope that through my education and through my career, I can make Mr. Schulich proud too.”
“I want to express my true gratitude to Mr. Schulich,” says Crete-Laurence. “He has really made an impact on me. Being called a leader has renewed my sense of confidence as I go into what I know will be a challenging degree, and I’m going to seize every opportunity that arises for me.”
Meet the 2020 University of Toronto Schulich Leaders
U of T’s 2020 Schulich Leaders have amazing accomplishments under their belts, from building schools to building apps to building businesses. And they’re ready to shake up our future in fields from mathematics and computer security to artificial intelligence and clean energy.