Natalie Loewen views it as an advantage to have grown up bilingual, in English and American Sign Language.
One of six Schulich Leader Scholarship winners starting studies at Western in the fall, Loewen spends her summers working at the Bob Rumball Camp for the Deaf, which was founded by her grandfather (a CFL halfback for Ottawa and Toronto in the 1950s, and an ordained minister).
“I’ve been here pretty much every summer of my life and we have a really diverse population that comes here. Being close to deaf culture is really interesting. It’s helped me see the world in a different way.”
It has helped her pay attention to voices sometimes ignored, and to understand the importance of diversity.
In the camp’s off-season, Loewen has attended Parry Sound High School, attaining an average of more than 97 per cent.
“School has always been easy for me. Well, noteasy,but I’ve always wanted to be the best at it. I study a lot.”
She particularly likes physics, a subject her father teaches at Parry Sound High School. “He has helped me discover what I am truly passionate about…Physics is like math, with real applications.”
As she heads into Western’s Engineering program, she is looking forward to a deeper dive into physics and biology.
“I would like to do something creating bionic arms and artificial limbs and things like that: combining medical things with engineering.”
She sees herself in a career as an engineer and developing technologies to improve people’s quality of life. And even if the Schulich scholarship offer and Western’s reputation for exceptional science and engineering courses hadn’t been enough – and they were – Western purple and the Mustang mascot sealed the deal.
She owns one of four horses on their family farm: Gem, a thoroughbred/quarterhorse/Arabian will be on loan to her younger sister for the school year.
And while Loewen will miss the camp and the countryside, she is eager to experience university life, culture and academics.
“I’m looking forward to being in a program with people who have the same interests as me, and learning alongside them.”
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 of $80,000 for students entering science, technology or math programs and $100,000 for students pursuing engineering degrees across top Canadian universities each year.
Said Loewen, “It is a pretty big honour. I was super-surprised and shocked when I found out.”
Profiles of all six incoming Schulich Leader Scholarship winners can be found here.