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UVic welcomes 2017 Schulich Leader scholarship winners

Two outstanding young scholars from the Cowichan Valley and North Vancouver are this year’s recipients of the highest value scholarships offered to undergraduate students entering the University of Victoria directly from high school. 

The Schulich Leader scholarships are awarded annually to 50 students at Canada’s top universities to pursue studies in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Helen Spry graduated from Lake Cowichan Secondary with an admirable record of achieving at the highest level and intends to study engineering while at UVic. 

On her school’s Principal’s List since grade 10, Spry's various community activities show she excels well beyond academics. She participates in environmental cleanups and fundraised for a salmon fry salvation program, and also finds time for stage roles with the Kaatza Lakeside Players. 

Spry has a taste of life at UVic already, volunteering more than 300 hours as a junior counsellor with Science Venture, the university’s science and engineering camp for children. 

Although she is also interested in software and biomedical engineering, Spry is leaning toward mechanical engineering due to a fascination with alternative energy technologies and systems. 

“I want to make a difference—preventing further global warming and the resulting climate change are going to require hard work, innovation and creativity,” Spry says. “Having an engineering degree will put me in a better position to contribute to the solutions, and by helping to develop alternative energies, I could improve people’s lives all over the world.”

For North Vancouver’s Saba Askari, receiving the prestigious scholarship was “a message from the universe.” It meant that her determination and hard work, along with her parents’ many sacrifices, were paying off. 

“My parents emigrated from Iran to give us opportunity,” says Askari. “We weren’t always financially stable. It looked like I’d have to live at home, go to a school nearby and work almost full time. Now, I’ll get the full experience of living in residence and focusing on my studies at UVic!” 

While at Seycove Secondary, Askari received the Outstanding Scholar award, Exemplary Student award, Outstanding Citizen award, and plaques commemorating her achievements in math, English and science. She served as president of her school’s Diversity Club, on student council and was an active member of numerous school clubs including a writing club, where she is writing a contemporary science-fiction novel. 

Outside of school, Askari launched Water for Our World, a small foundation that creates and sells handmade silk‑screened hats with proceeds going towards water sanitation services in Ashanti, Ghana.  

The Schulich Leader scholarships were launched in 2012 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich and provide $100,000 for engineering studies and $80,000 for the other areas of study.


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