Linda Guo cannot wait to get back to the classroom after the last three months of her high school career were interrupted by the Alberta wildfires.
“My mom and I were ecstatic. It is a huge accomplishment and honour,” said Guo, after finding out she earned a $60,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship. “After winning the scholarship, I have a more concrete idea of my strengths and how I can improve. I am extremely grateful to those who have helped me along the way.”
Twenty partner universities in Canada are eligible to provide two Schulich Leader Scholarships annually. One designated for a nominee planning to enroll in an engineering program, valued at $80,000, and one planning to enroll in a science, technology or mathematics program, valued at $60,000.
The five universities that attracted the most nominee applications by the annual application deadline were granted an additional two Schulich Leader Scholarships in each area This year, Western was able to offer four scholarships.
Guo is one of 50 recipients from the more than 1,500 nominations submitted this year. Created by Canadian business leader and philanthropist Seymour Schulich in 2011, this scholarship program encourages high school graduates to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines in their future careers.
“Throughout human history, human existence has always developed from the constant curiosity that drives mankind forward – first to explore one’s own world, then the galaxies beyond,” Guo said. “Science, fueled by the inquiring mind, provides a basis for the conception of new ideas, which innovation then develops into world-changing technologies. Therein lies the beauty of science.”
Instead of asking herself what job she ‘wanted to have when she grew up,’ Guo asked herself what she wanted to change in the world.
“From an early age, my mother encouraged the development of my curiosity. I wanted to know how the world worked, and why it did, which developed into a passion for hands-on learning and problem solving,” she said. “I admire physicians, surgeons and researchers for the wisdom, dedication and the infinite responsibility that comes with holding life in their hands. It had a lasting influence on my development. My ambition is to save lives, which is why I am interested in the medical sciences.”
Christine Tulk, a Grade 12 Counselor at Fort McMurray’s Westwood Community High School, said Guo’s academic and extracurricular accomplishments are commendable – and endless. She had the highest average every year in high school, was a Canada-Wide Science Fair national finalist, scored 2,260 on the SAT Reasoning Exam (2,400 is a perfect score), volunteered her time with supporting dental assistants, shadowed doctors during surgeries and is now preparing for her Associate of the Royal Conservatory certification for the violin – to name just a few.
“Linda is an amazing and talented young woman. She not only has top academics at our school but has been heavily involved in many aspects of our school and community,” Tulk said. “She stood out from the other students for her dedication, tenaciousness and willingness to initiate new programs within our community. She is so well rounded – academics, volunteerism, musical talent, creativity, science and business.”
Guo has longed for the opportunity to access a university-level lab and be involved in cutting-edge projects. She looks forward to the world-leading scientists, the libraries and Western’s overall culture and people.
“My goal is to develop vaccines for different types of cancers and incorporate robotic technologies into the diagnosis and treatment of patients,” she said. “I also have lots of ideas I want to make possible. That is what I look forward to the most in coming to Western – the opening of many doors, even ones I did not know existed.
“Great advancements in society are paid in the currency of humanity, in units of love, of dedication, of determination through tears, sorrow and sweat. I am willing to dedicate my life to this cause, because, to me, there is no greater reward than making a difference.”