Awwad and Warburton are latest Schulich Leader scholars at UVic

Science, Engineering

- Richard Dal Monte

UVic 2023 Schulich Leader Scholars Mohammad Awwad (left) and Evan Warburton (right).
UVic 2023 Schulich Leader Scholars Mohammad Awwad (left) and Evan Warburton (right).

Two passionate BC students—one focused on space, the other on cyberspace—who are planning to pursue an education in the sciences at the University of Victoria are among the 100 elite scholars from across Canada recently named Schulich Leaders.

Mohammad Awwad was named the 2023 Schulich Leader Scholar in Engineering and will be entering UVic from North Surrey Secondary School while Evan Warburton, a recent graduate of Oak Bay Secondary School, is the 2022 Schulich Leader Scholar in Science. Awwad and Warburton have demonstrated a deep interest in and dedication to technology and astronomy respectively, and both worked to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with peers.

Awwad is on ‘an adventure’ to learn all he can about technology

From web and app design to hackathons and robotics, Mohammad Awwad lives his commitment to technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Awwad, a 2023 graduate of North Surrey (BC) Secondary School, calls himself “a tech enthusiast on a thrilling journey to constantly push my boundaries and immerse myself in the ever-evolving tech landscape.”

“It's like an adventure where I'm always hunting for the next big thing to learn,” he says.

At UVic as a Schulich Leader Scholar in Engineering, he plans to pursue his goal to become a software engineer and entrepreneur. But he’s also keen on extracurricular opportunities on campus.

“What excites me most about studying at UVic is the prospect of expanding my skills and immersing myself in various clubs and teams,” Awwad says. “The opportunity to join dynamic clubs and teams such as the UVic Formula Racing, rocketry and AI will not only foster personal growth but also enable me to collaborate with like-minded peers who share my passions.”

He has always gone above the expected and beyond the classroom in pursuing his passion for technology.

Sharing knowledge is my way of giving back to the tech community that has nurtured my growth. I'm driven to distill what I've learned over time and present it to the younger generation through dynamic workshops and carefully curated courses. The spark of curiosity and understanding that lights up in their eyes is immensely rewarding.

—Mohammad Awwad

While he has revelled in “heart-pounding hackathons… where I sprint against the clock to crack problems and innovate swiftly,” his exertions aren’t restricted to screens and code. He likes to work out, play soccer and go kayaking or paddleboarding.

He carries that work ethic to UVic and calls the Schulich scholarship “a life-changing opportunity for my academic and career goals. By alleviating financial pressures, it will grant me the freedom to fully engage in my studies. The additional resources, mentorship and industry connections will set the stage for a future marked by innovation and achievement.

“Being chosen as a Schulich Leader is a remarkable honor that embodies my commitment to STEM,” Awwad says. “Personally, it validates my efforts in organizing STEM workshops and leading a thriving robotics team. Academically, the scholarship's support will drive my ambitions. I'm genuinely appreciative of this opportunity, one that will undoubtedly leave a lasting imprint on my future and enable positive contributions to society.”

Warburton’s passion for astronomy started with night-time bike rides 

Evan Warburton goes all-in on his interests. Inspired by a desire to get out of the house during the pandemic, he embarked on night-time bike rides, which led to bouts of stargazing and reinvigorated his passion for astronomy. That passion for astronomy formed the foundation of his Schulich Leader award.

Warburton fed his passion by reading everything he could about astronomy, and he didn’t hesitate to seek out and collaborate with others who shared his interest. The summer before his Grade 12 year at Oak Bay High School, he began volunteering at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich, assisting with tours of the Plaskett Telescope and befriending members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).

I was surprised when they asked me to start leading tours—I was only 17, and had no experience with public speaking,” Warburton says. “But I absorbed everything I could and am now more confident than ever, and more passionate about science outreach and education.

—Evan Warburton

The relationship bore additional fruit when his RASC colleagues encouraged and supported him in setting up an astronomy club at his school. The club met weekly, held star parties at Cattle Point in Oak Bay and, after advocating for funding from the school’s parent advisory committee, purchased a high-powered telescope that club members were able to use to view a rare green comet earlier this year. 

Warburton’s passion for astronomy also became a part of his high school capstone project. He built a radio telescope to measure radio signals sent between Jupiter and its closest moon, Io. Warburton also entered his radio telescope in the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair and won several of the fair’s major awards, including first place overall.

Despite all the astronomy-related activities in which Warburton has been involved in the last year, he also found time to volunteer in his school’s chemistry lab preparation program, participate in choir and the outdoors club, and go on a biology trip to Bamfield.

Warburton starts his physics degree this fall but isn’t sure about his future career path, and wants to leave the door open to try different things. He’s excited that the Schulich Leader scholarship has given him the opportunity to live on campus and to focus on school.

Despite all his accomplishments, Warburton remains humble, saying, “Being a Schulich Leader is the opportunity of a lifetime. Hard work pays off.”

About Schulich Leader Scholarships

Established in 2012 by businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, the Schulich Leader Scholarships are awarded to high school graduates enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at 20 partner universities across Canada, including UVic. Out of a pool of more than 300,000 potential candidates across Canada, more than 1400 students are nominated and just 100 scholarships are awarded. To date, more than 600 students have received Schulich scholarships—$100,000 to pursue a science degree and $120,000 towards an engineering degree—including 24 at UVic.



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Keywords: student life, astronomy, technology, award

People: Mohammad Awwad, Evan Warburton

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