Ladysmith Secondary students Andrea Stachow and Sophie Steele were awarded prestigious scholarships to go toward their post-secondary education.
Stachow was awarded the $100,000 Schulich Scholarship. The Schulich Scholarship is one of Canada’s most coveted scholarships for students studying science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). Stachow will receive $25,000 per year over a four-year period to go towards her studies. She will be attending Queens University to study engineering.
“The process wasn’t too bad,” Stachow said. “There was no interview or anything like that, I just had to fill out one essay, I had to do three of may top achievements, send in my transcript, a headshot, where I see myself in 10 years, and any extenuating circumstances, and that’s it.”
Before applying for the Schulich Scholarship, Stachow attended the SHAD program, which offers over 900 students across Canada an experiential learning opportunity in STEM fields. It also provides students with networking opportunities and teaches them how to be entrepreneurs and leaders in their fields.
“The SHAD program shaped me a lot. I think if I didn’t go to SHAD, I wouldn’t have applied for engineering, because I never had that chance to combine it all together and apply that knowledge,” Stachow said.
Stachow found out about the SHAD program from her sister, who knew Madeline Shred, the only other LSS student to receive a Schulich Scholarship. Shred had also attended the SHAD program. Stachow says she was inspired by all the other students she met during the program.
“You had to apply to get into the program, I think 40 percent of the kids who apply get in, so it wasn’t just like you sign up and go in. Every kid who was there wanted to be there. Although all of us were like-minded, we were all very unique and had different accomplishments,” Stachow said. “It was amazing to be surrounded by all these kids who were passionate about academics, but also have their own things that make them special.
Stachow is unsure which stream of engineering she will pursue, but when she completes her degree, she’d like to focus on sustainable engineering in rural communities.
Steele was awarded the $42,000 Chancellor’s Scholarship from Guelph University. The scholarship is awarded to students who have made significant leadership contributions to their schools and communities, and have demonstrated an interest in arts and culture, or international relations and development.
“I applied with an essay, a questionnaire, and submitted my transcript in February,” she said. “I found out in March that I was a finalist for an interview with the university. They paid for me to fly to Guelph at the end of March, and I met with the selection committee… to chose the scholars for that year. I was notified the next day I was selected for the scholarship.”
Steele was heavily involved in student council in her time at LSS. She joined in her Grade 9 year after being inspired by older students. She then became president in Grade 11, and served as vice president in Grade 12. She also joined the Interact Club in Grade 10, which is the student version of the Rotary Club. Through her connections with Rotary, she became involved with the Ladysmith Historical Society, and ME to WE.
Despite her leadership experience, she didn’t think she’d receive the scholarship until she got the call back from Guelph.
“I thought I was going to go to Queens in the fall, and then I got this email from Guelph that said I was selected as a finalist. I was so shocked, because I had been applying for so many scholarships at different universities. It felt like I was just one in a million and it wasn’t going to happen,” Steele said.
“When I flew out there I realized there were 24 people and only 12 people were going to get the scholarship. I was talking with all the other applicants… all their resumes seemed so impressive, and so I was really nervous leaving.”
Steele chose Guelph because of their Bachelors of Commerce program. She will be majoring in public management. The program is supposed to be a combination of business, government policy, Canadian law, and the synergies between the subjects.
Both Stachow and Steele were positive about their time at LSS. Each of them expressed that LSS provided them with a supportive learning community, and opportunities that they may not have gotten elsewhere.
“Definitely the teachers I’ve had: Mr. Boyko, Ms. Ausmos, Mr Phillips. They were super encouraging,” Stachow said. “Although the work was tough, especially in Mr. Boyko’s classes, it really pushed me to work harder to understand it all, and that’s when I really enjoyed it and got stuff out of it.”
“The staff of LSS has been so supportive. They’ve always been so understanding,” Steel said. “Definitely, Ms. Toole and Ms. Hillbrecht have always encouraged the leadership endeavours I’ve had at LSS, really all the staff and students of the school.”