Schulich Leader Scholarships—the largest and most prestigious Canadian academic award for undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Funded by the Schulich Foundation and administered through UJA Federation, this scholarship is valued at up to $100,000 per award and given to a diverse group of entrepreneurial-minded students annually.
Seymour Schulich, the visionary philanthropist behind this initiative, believes that giving direct support to students is one of the most effective vehicles in educational philanthropy. By covering all the students’ financial needs to pursue an undergraduate degree, these generous scholarships eliminate the time and stress of having to afford tuition and living costs. This enables students to devote all their time and attention to their studies and entrepreneurial pursuits. Beyond the financial value of the award, the recipients join an active network of elite STEM leaders, benefitting from access to top employers, exclusive mentorship, and networking opportunities made available throughout the year.
“It’s gratifying that this important and meaningful investment in the future of Canada is off to a strong start,” said Mr. Schulich. “Schulich Leaders will be the engine that drives prosperity for our country. We look forward to supporting exceptional students pursuing their STEM education for many years to come.”
Over 1,500 top secondary-school graduates are nominated for this scholarship each year by their respective high schools and cegeps. From this pool, up to 100 exceptional scholars from a diverse range of religious and cultural backgrounds are selected by the program’s 20 partner universities to receive the award.
To mark this important milestone, the Schulich Foundation has profiled ten notable Schulich Leaders, whose work in a variety of STEM disciplines is helping shape our future. Among these students is Marta Skreta, a 2014 Schulich Leader who is a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto and the Vector Institute for AI.
“The scholarship was invaluable because until then, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for school,” said Marta. “When I got the congratulations email, I was walking in from my porch, which I had done a thousand times, only now my life had changed. I don’t know how winning the lottery feels, but it must feel like that. I will never forget it!”
Growing up, Marta always showed an affinity for chemistry and was interested in understanding how we can shape molecules to “do the things that we want to do.” Her Polish heritage also played an important role in her life, especially when hearing about other female STEM leaders like Marie Curie. In her current work at the University of Toronto, she is combining her love of chemistry and computer science to drive the discovery of chemicals and their reactions. Most recently, she has been working on a project focused on creating greener chemical reactions that can be used in energy storage and agriculture, with the goal of creating chemical reactions that are less wasteful and not harmful to the environment.
“You need creativity to be a good scientist. In my spare time, I love movie editing and graphic design,” said Marta. “I always thought I had to put myself in a box, like I’m a scientist or journalist or musician, but they all go hand-in-hand. It’s about diligence and discipline, so never stop your other passions!”
Since the Schulich Leader Scholarship program’s inception in 2012, the scholarship has been awarded to 570 students, who are on track to becoming leading entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientific innovators. The dedication of the Schulich Foundation to empower future STEM leaders is ultimately an investment in the ideas and solutions that will make Canada—and the entire world—a better home for all.
To learn more about Schulich Leader Scholarships at 10 years, visit: schulichleaders10.com.