Yellow sticky notes cling to his computer and are sprinkled across his desk. Reminders chime at him through phone apps.
Cole Sweet relies on these cues to help map the spinning vortex of each day’s events and commitments – from school assignments to drama class to mentoring younger students to his part-time job at a sleep clinic.
“I get to school about an hour early every morning and get ready for the day and that helps me break down what I need to do,” he said.
Preparation favours even those with advanced improvisation skills.
All of Sweet’s multiple organizational strategies – and a no-quit work ethic – have paid off for the graduate of White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, as he prepares to attend Western in the fall as one of six new undergraduate students receiving prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarships.
The scholarships of $80,000 or $100,000 are awarded to top students enrolled in Science or Engineering. Sweet is enrolled in Integrated Sciences.
Choosing Western was no agonizing decision for him: his mother and eldest sister attended Western and his two other older sisters attend Western now. Having been a frequent visitor here, he already loves the atmosphere and looks forward to building a community of friends.
His route to Western has been paved with a full course load of science courses, including additional credits during summer months.
His path also featured plenty of drama – the stage kind – as he lead his school’s drama club. He has acted, managed tech for theatrical performances and had an immersive experience with improv theatre at The Second City Toronto.
The stage is where he learned and developed an ability to think quickly, without fear or embarrassment. “I attribute a lot of my confidence nowadays to having to learn a lot of that at improv. You have to think on your feet a lot.”
He attained an average of 96 per cent in high school and is aiming to specialize in computer science and programming. “One of my passions is game development. That’s where I combine my love of sciences and art.”
He hopes his degree will lead him to head a company specializing in management of resources though machine learning. He also hopes to develop his leadership skills by making connections with current and past scholarship winners.
Created by Canadian business leader and philanthropist Seymour Schulich in 2012, the $200-million Schulich Leader Scholarship program encourages high school graduates to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines in their future careers.
The program provides 100 undergraduate scholarships for students pursuing engineering or science, technology or math degrees across top Canadian universities each year.
Profiles of all six incoming Schulich Leader Scholarship winners can be found here.