Philanthropist Seymour Schulich believes in supporting young minds and especially those who display great leadership qualities. Sandra Smeltzer, a Grade 12 student at Harrow District High School, is on the receiving end of his philanthropy.
Smeltzer is one of 50 winners across Canada of the prestigious Schulich Leadership Award. The program was launched in 2012 and funds scholarships valued at more than $100 million to some of Canada’s most highly regarded universities, so the recipients can pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) with the goal of developing global pioneers in those fields.
is very involved in is very involved in her community, honing leadership skills with the Harrow Figure Skating Club and through Harrow CanSkate. Smeltzer helps children aged 3-8 learn skating basics and prepares them for a life of learning. Outside of her school, she is all sports, especially skating, she says.
She says that the nomination for the award was made by staff at HDHS and that they informed her, after it had already been accepted, that the next step was a 600 word essay. Smeltzer knew about the award was but the nomination was completely unexpected.
For engineering, the Foundation hands out 25 scholarships worth $80,000 each and 25 for $60,000 to technology, sciences and math students. An equal number are awarded in Israel. This year, Smeltzer (photo right with teacher, Mr. Gelinas) was one of 1250 applications from across Canada which were reviewed.
The scholarship provides Sandra with a sigh of relief. “It takes away a huge financial burden."
Schulich Leader Scholarships are open to all graduating high school or Cégep students across Canada who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents and have an interest in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) at one of a list of partner universities.
Students must possess at least two of three criteria:
- Academic excellence
- Outstanding community, business or entrepreneurial leadership
- Financial need
When she learned of her award via email, she was in Europe on March Break. Smeltzer decided to tell her parents immediately. Smeltzer said that they were more surprised at the win than she was.
“I don’t think my mom slept for three days,” she said, smiling.
On behalf of the school community, Vice Principal Amy Bondy-Corriveau congratulated her distinction by saying, “It is an honour to celebrate you and this amazing accomplishment. Your hard work and dedication have earned you this prestigious award.”
Smeltzer, according to her peers at HDHS, is a most deserving student who is, they say, destined to change the world.
Reflecting on her scholarship, Smeltzer says that with the current environment and situation at HDHS, “It shows that even being from a small town, you are capable of doing things just as well or better than someone from a big city.”