Incoming student Andréa Jackson’s penchant for problem-solving includes a hobby that might make most of us throw up our hands in frustration.
In Grade 6, Jackson began tinkering with Rubik’s cubes: the basic 3×3 kind at first, and then increasingly more difficult ones. She solved the 7×7 cube – that is, twisting and turning each side’s 49 tiles until the faces of all six cube sides had a single colour – within a day of receiving it.
“I like the algorithms that go along with solving them. The bigger cubes take a little bit longer but when you solve them, it’s so satisfying. That’s also why I fell in love with mathematics. It’s a very logical, step-by-step progression,” said Jackson, who is from Orillia and is one of six new Schulich Leaders at Western, and among just 100 across Canada this year. “That’s why I fell in love with mathematics. It’s a very logical, step-by-step progression.”
The prestigious award that celebrates some of Canada’s top achieving teens come with $100,000 scholarships for students in engineering and $80,000 for students in science, technology or math. (A full list of Schulich scholars attending Western this September is below.)
For Jackson, “math is just everywhere. I love the different applications of it.”
As a former competitive hockey goalie, and now as goalie coach, making the right save selection is all about the angles: mathematics.
Teaching archery at a summer camp where she worked this summer: mathematics. Being on the construction crew to build a movie set at the camp: more math.
Jackson’s achievements also include participating in a six-week Inspiring Girls Expedition for teens who have shown exemplary leadership, athletic ability and academic ambition; and being the youngest recipient of the 2019 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, which led her and 14 other international students to Belgium and France to study Canada’s role in the two World Wars.
Jackson is excited to study at Western, where her sister graduated with a master’s degree and where she made several visits as a high-schooler. “I loved the campus and everything about Western.”
‘Best and brightest’
This is the 10th anniversary of the nationwide Schulich Leaders program, which awards scholarships annually to 100 outstanding students about to study science, technology, engineering or math at one of 20 partner universities in Canada.
This year, high school administrators nominated 1,400 outstanding students with exemplary academic, volunteer, community and athletic records.
They represent “the best and brightest Canada has to offer and will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale,” program founder and philanthropist Seymour Schulich said.
“With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators,” Schulich said.
Western’s Schulich Leaders cohort this year:
Christian Goff of Mississauga, Ont., for software engineering:
The graduate of King’s Christian Collegiate was on the RowOntario team that competed alongside Olympic athletes. Goff won six provincial and two international golds, and was named a NextGen Hub athlete under RowOntario’s Quest for Gold Program.
His high school average for math and science courses topped 98 per cent and he recently completed the Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 8 piano practical exam with honours.
He would like to lead a business that will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help developing nations transition into better technology.
Aimee Petrea Chiripuci of Bolton, Ont., for science:
A graduate of Father Bressani Catholic High School, Chiripuci was awarded most valuable player on her school’s wrestling team.
She has proven academic excellence by finishing each year with honours and an average of more than 90 per cent, all while taking a number of advanced placement courses.
Chiripuci has completed Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 8-level piano and theory courses and has excelled in visual arts.
She plans to immerse herself in science, mathematics and statistics before entering a career in mathematics.
Shaelagh Stephan of Martensville, Sask, for engineering:
An avid environmentalist who decided in Grade 6 she wanted to be an engineer, Stephan has spent hundreds of “spare” hours fixing up an Audi A4 rescued from a salvage lot. The hobby of making the beater car roadworthy was just another challenge as she also joined every school-based activity she could, including the soccer, basketball, track and flag football teams, as well as an outdoor adventure club and a volunteer group to help the community. She also learned German so that she could participate in a student-exchange program.
She won a bronze medal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair for her project on producing biodegradable bioplastics from plant waste by using microbes indigenous to Saskatchewan. She says engineering is a natural fit for designing innovative ways to improve the lives of people and the environment.
Stephan has decided to defer attending Western until 2022.
Mandric Sittaro of London, Ont., for science:
Sittaro attended A.B. Lucas School and, during the past four years, has participated in several clubs, founded two businesses, maintained high academic achievement and held a part-time job.
Seeing a need for financial literacy, he founded his own business called Sittaro Financial, where he helped teenagers learn the benefits of personal finance. He also co-founded a business with an app to teach mental health strategies to kids. Sittaro has received multiple DECA provincial awards for emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an international organization that supports and prepares future business leaders and entrepreneurs.
He intends to launch his own financial service firm and build a platform to help youth entrepreneurs find capital.
Daniel Weppler of Harriston, Ont., for engineering:
A graduate of Norwell District Secondary School, Weppler received the Lord Strathcona Medal of Excellence, the highest that can be accorded a Royal Canadian Air Cadet.
He had a co-op placement at a local manufacturing and millwright company where he gained valuable skills and insights that, along with fixing tractors at his father’s farm machinery business, helped form a foundation for a career in engineering.
Weppler further developed leadership skills through his participation in his school’s Community Environmental Leadership Program.
He hopes to create a company in electric motive power and transportation for the industrial and agricultural industry.