While their high schools are linked some 360 kilometres apart along the Trans Canada Highway in New Brunswick, the winding route from secondary school to becoming Schulich Scholars at the University of New Brunswick followed similar paths in their respect communities.
For Finnegan Kummer, a graduate of Tantramar High School in Sackville, and Catherine Hall, a graduate of Carleton North Senior High School in Florenceville-Bristol, earning the prestigious scholarship came after years of academic success, extensive community volunteerism and excellence in sports and music.
Created in 2011 by Canadian business leader and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, this annual scholarship program partners with 25 universities across Canada, including UNB, to encourage promising high school graduates to embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in their future careers.
Each year, at each participating university, one Schulich scholarship, valued at $80,000, is awarded to a student enrolled in an engineering program while another is awarded to a student enrolled in a science, technology or mathematics program, valued at $60,000.
“High School was a spot to find what I liked and what I did not like and discover where I wanted to go into the future,” said Catherine, 18, a 2016 recipient of the $60,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Sciences program at UNB Saint John.
Finnegan, also 18, was the recipient of a $80,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship and is enrolled in the first year of his Bachelor of Engineering program at UNB in Fredericton.
In high school, he was actively involved in many sports as well as student government and a number of important community activities.
“Being so involved is a challenge but it is rewarding,” he said. “It is giving back to the community. I enjoy working with and leading others.”
Finnegan was selected for the award due to his outstanding academic record, extracurricular work in student government and athletics and his volunteer efforts, particularly in the areas of wetlands promotion and conservation.
Catherine was selected for her outstanding academic credentials, her leadership in student government, her commitment to the school’s drama and music programs and her volunteering efforts in her community.
She vividly remembers the day word came that she was a Schulich Scholar.
“We were getting ready to go to a music concert for school and my phone kept going off,” Catherine recalls. “I ran the Facebook page for our music group, so I thought somebody did not know what time to meet. I checked it and UNB had posted on Facebook that they had picked their awards. I then checked my email and there it was.
“It was a huge surprise. I showed my Mom and we were both so happy. It did not really sink in but was definitely exciting and takes a lot of weight of my shoulders.”
Finnegan was thankful to get the chance to attend UNB, where his brother also studies.
“It is such a great opportunity. The financial aspect of university is tough and having that set up for you is great. It such an honour. I am humbled by the opportunity the Schulich Foundation has given me.”
In 2017-18, the value of each scholarship will increase by $20,000. This past year, there were over 1,500 Schulich Leader Nominees from across Canada vying for 50 scholarships. Since inception, 220 students have received this celebrated scholarship, including 10 at the University of New Brunswick.
To be considered for this scholarship, the student must be nominated by their high school. The Schulich Leader Nominee deadline is February 1, 2017.