“Awards like these are so important in giving women the support they need to feel like they belong in this field as much as anyone else.”
Each year, over 300,000 high school graduates become eligible for the coveted Schulich Leader Scholarships, valued at $100,000 for postsecondary studies in science and math, and $120,000 for engineering programs.
Of the 300,000 candidates, just 1,500 are selected as Schulich Leader Nominees and complete the formal application process to receive one of 100 scholarships.
Amanda Doku, a first-year student in biomedical mechanical engineering, was one of two students from the University of Ottawa (U of O) to receive the prestigious scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year.
Originally from Toronto, Doku — who was nominated by a guidance counsellor at Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute — said she was first incredulous, then felt elated by her victory.
“When I first found out that I won the Schulich Leader Scholarship, I was speechless. Considering how big this scholarship is and how many candidates there are, it took me a few hours to truly believe I had won, and that it wasn’t just a dream,” she said. “I felt shocked, excited, happy, relieved and so many other emotions that I couldn’t express all at once.”
Doku expressed excitement at the networking prospects included with the award, now that she no longer has to worry about how to pay for her studies.
“This scholarship allows me to focus entirely on my studies in biomedical mechanical engineering, rather than spending time dealing with financing my education, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. The Schulich Leader network has also introduced me to many other driven and like-minded students who I can reach out to and learn from as I continue my studies.”
Beyond her schoolwork, Doku said she values participating in extracurricular activities.
“I try to demonstrate leadership and get involved … as much as I can. For example, I hosted the 2022 Go Eng Girl Event at uOttawa, where I delivered the opening remarks to young girls interested in engineering, and managed large groups working on various programming tasks.”
Given that March was Women’s History Month, the engineer-in-the-making said she appreciates how the Schulich Leader Scholarship empowers women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“Considering that women have been historically overlooked and underrepresented in this field, giving them an opportunity, such as this award, would greatly motivate them to continue down this path. Based on my own experience throughout my involvement in various engineering-related clubs and teams, I have found that I am often one of the few women there. I have also often felt as though my opinions have been overlooked, and I had to become much more assertive to have my ideas considered.”
Going forward, Doku said she hopes to enhance her leadership skills.
“I am also part of uOttawa’s Kelpie Robotics Team, where I’ve been working with other students to design a remotely operated underwater robot. In the summer, we will compete internationally and the robot will have to complete a set of mission tasks against other teams. As I gain more experience and technical skills in the coming years, I hope to take on a greater leadership role within competition teams.”
More information on the latest cohort of Schulich Leaders can be found here.