Schulich Leader scholars choose UVic

Science, Engineering

Spencer Hancock

Two BC high school students have received prestigious scholarship awards as they launch into their first year of study at the University of Victoria.

Spencer Hancock of Coombs, a graduate of Ballenas Secondary School in Parksville, is recipient of the $100,000 2018 Schulich Leader Scholarship in Engineering. Karlee Zaruk, of Oak Bay High School in Oak Bay is recipient of the $80,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship in Science. Both students were selected for outstanding academic achievement and community service, core requirements of the awards.

This year, from a pool of 350,000 potential candidates across Canada, 1,400 students were nominated. Of these, 50 received this celebrated award. Two chose to study at UVic.

Hancock says the Schulich Leader Scholarship means more than financial security as a student. It means he could work as a computer programmer over the summer, connecting with the movers and shakers of industry and post-secondary education.

“I am thrilled about joining UVic in the fall—for the schooling and also for the various exciting clubs that I hope to join,” says Hancock, who will pursue a double major in computer science and mechanical engineering.

Hancock, with a demonstrated aptitude for math and science, completed his junior and senior physics classes with a 100 per cent final grade and overall 99.25 per cent average. Through independent study in his science research methods class, Hancock is following his interest in artificial intelligence: he co-created an artificial intelligence (AI) robot that can navigate, map and identify the doors of his high school.

Outside school, Hancock logged volunteer community service through Rivers Oceans and Mountains School (ROAMS) and Vancouver Island School Ski Patrol Program (VISSPP), becoming a qualified first responder.

Zaruk is the first generation of her family to pursue post-secondary education, graduating with a 98.75 per cent average. She led study groups for disadvantaged students, as a member of the Community Leadership Program and the Best Buddies Program, and was a leader in the Cops for Cancer Campaigns. The Schulich Leader Scholarship enables Zaruk to immerse herself in studying biochemistry, while living at home and mentoring her younger sister through high school.

“It means having every door open to me as long as I work hard enough and it is an extra hand helping to achieve all that I hope to,” says Zaruk. “The Schulich Leader Scholarship means that I have a group of friends and supporters. Being part of a group with like-minded people will inspire me to reach my academic and personal potential.”

Zaruk was among 100 student volunteers participating in the Live Different trip in Vicente Guerrero, Mexico where students built two houses for families living in poverty. Following that, she participated in a second Live Different trip as a group leader and assistant to the trip’s teacher-coordinator.

“Schulich Leader Scholarships are the largest STEM scholarships in Canada. With 50 outstanding students selected each year from across Canada, this group represents the best and brightest Canada has to offer,” says program founder Seymour Schulich. “These students will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurricular and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of technology innovators.”

About Schulich Leader Scholarships Canada

Schulich Leader Scholarships are prestigious entrance scholarships awarded to 50 high school graduates enrolling in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at 20 partner universities in Canada. Each year, every high school in Canada can submit one Schulich Leader Nominee based on academic excellence in STEM, entrepreneurial leadership and financial need. 

Recognizing the increasing importance and impact that STEM disciplines will have on the prosperity of future generations, businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich established this $100 million scholarship fund in 2012 to encourage our best and brightest students to become the next pioneers of global scientific research and innovation.

For more information visit:

Read the full list of 2018 Schulich Leader Scholars.

A press kit containing high-resolution photos is available on Dropbox.

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Media contacts

Paul Marck (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6246 or

David Goodman at 416-480-6485 or

Dara Newton at 416-480-6492 or

In this story

Keywords: student life, award

People: Spencer Hancock, Karlee Zaruk

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