Celebrating 10 years of Schulich Leader Scholars at SFU

November 10, 2021

Utilizing technology to tackle big world issues presents challenges and even greater opportunities. Since 2012, the Schulich Foundation has inspired the next generation of entrepreneurially-minded technology innovators through Canada’s premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) scholarship program.

Schulich Leader Scholarships empower bright youth to devote their time and attention to their studies and innovation pursuits. Up to 100 undergraduate scholarships—valued at $100,000 or $80,000 per award—are awarded annually at 20 partner universities in Canada. Schulich Leaders also benefit from an immersive network of fellow scholars, academic and industry mentors as well as resources and experiences to help foster a growth mindset and accelerate their career trajectory.

As we celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the program and the tremendous impact it has had on the lives of students, we recognize the difference Schulich Leaders from SFU are making to build a better future for our world. Representing diverse backgrounds and areas of study, their inspiring stories showcase why leadership, passion and a focus on community are so important to success.

DEVEN AZEVEDO

Deven Azevedo, a Schulich Leader from 2013, has taken a unique path to his current role at Vivid Economics in London, UK.

As a graduate of Langley Fine Arts School who went on to the London School of Economics following his degree from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with a major in Economics, he says the scholarship allowed him to pursue his passions for research, modelling and music—developing a successful combination of technical and creative skills.

“Music taught me about storytelling and how to focus on the narrative,” Deven explains. “This isn’t taught in STEM but communication is so important and part of my success.”

Deven says the Schulich Leader Scholarships enabled his involvement in research work, where he connected his interest in modelling to global and regional land use, and propelled his career direction.

“Through that experience I learned a ton about climate science, and modelling in general, and that made me realize I love working on modelling questions. That really was the inflection point that set me on a new trajectory.

“I love this career in climate economic modelling. We have a view of what we need to do, but now we’re on to how do we actually implement policies and change behaviour. That’s where economics comes in. I’m so excited to be a part of an industry that’s helping, and on a path to make a difference.”

RAAJ CHATTERJEE

Raaj Chatterjee, a 2014 Schulich Leader, is currently pursuing his PhD in Mechatronic Systems Engineering with a Specialization in Neuroscience at SFU. He continues to connect his pursuits in education with real-world application.

“I think the big problems in the world are interconnected and sometimes thinking of them from a systems lens is really important,” Raaj says. “Being able to dive into challenges around mental health and brain health and how we can address them through high tech brain stimulation is the focus of my current research.”

The Schulich Leader Scholarship opened up a world of opportunity for Raaj that led to important leadership roles, mentorship and co-op placements.

“It’s kind of unreal looking back and seeing the transformation from the first year,” Raaj says. “Schulich has changed my life in so many ways, giving me the ability to believe in myself as a leader, being able to create my own start-ups and work on entrepreneurial projects, getting to work on really challenging engineering problems and being able to apply them.

“Those were incredible experiences and (I had) the chance to see the industry from all sorts of levels and really understand how I can create change and move forward to where I want to be.”

BASIL GIANNOPOULOS

Basil, a 2017 Schulich Leader currently studying Electronics Engineering with a minor in Physics, is mindful of the role community has in inspiring their direction. The Schulich Leader network connects like-minded students to share experiences, hatch projects, and challenge each other—stimulating collaboration and discussion that have been invaluable to Basil’s learning.

“Make time to see people and talk about the little things like the weather,” they say, “but also don’t be afraid to talk about the bigger things, that kind of ‘crazy idea’ you have in the back of your mind. By talking about it you can get insight and hopefully make it happen.”

The Schulich Leader Scholarship enabled Basil to explore research work, and sparked their interest in its real-world application. They are currently working with an SFU biomedical engineering professor on projects relevant to COVID 19 and future pandemics.

“It’s really opened my eyes to how interdisciplinary research is,” Basil says. “There are a lot of partnerships with biology, chemistry and engineering, and you get to interact with so many interesting, intelligent people from different areas who are all very passionate about their field of expertise. It has been a great way to spark my passion for learning and get me excited about new fields.”

Research is a launchpad for Basil to discover, contribute and be part of a larger community.

“It’s rewarding to see that you’re making this kind of knowledge base that the entire scientific community can come back to and look at and can move forward from that in the future,” they say. “You are really leaving something behind for everyone else to build on.”

Schulich Leaders remind us of the power and potential of the learning experience. Thankful for the tremendous financial support, these students are aware of how important the core benefits of the scholarship are to their academic and career. Through developing leadership, connecting to community and exploring academic and extra-curricular passions, Schulich Leaders are provided a gift of a lifetime.

“Through the generosity of the Schulich Foundation and the remarkable Schulich Leader Scholarships, Simon Fraser University has been able to support and nurture our nation's most outstanding and talented students in their journey to becoming the next generation of technology innovators,” says SFU President and Vice-Chancellor Joy Johnson. “These young people represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer—future leaders who will make extraordinary local and global contributions for the betterment of society.”

About Schulich Leader Scholarships Canada

Recognizing the increasing importance and impact that STEM disciplines will have on the prosperity of future generations, businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich established this $100+ million scholarship fund in 2012 to encourage our best and brightest students to become Schulich Leader Scholars: the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators.

Through The Schulich Foundation, these prestigious entrance scholarships are awarded to 100 high school graduates this year, enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at 20 partner universities in Canada. Every high school in Canada can submit one Schulich Leader Nominee per academic year based on academic excellence in STEM, entrepreneurial leadership and financial need. 

For more information visit: schulichleaders10.com. If you’re a company looking to hire Canada’s top STEM talent, let us know here.

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