Student Awards Recognize U of G Chancellor

Recipients chosen for academic excellence and leadership abilities

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Chancellors’ Scholars, front row, from left: Julie Houde, Sofia Oke and Li Liang. Back row: Edward Kim and Lucas Burton.

When she was attending high school in Ottawa, Julie Houde led a city-wide shoe drive that collected 500 pairs of shoes and more than $1,000 to aid Sudanese refugees affected by war. Those shoes and her concern for other people a world away were part of the reason she was selected to receive a prestigious Pamela Wallin Chancellor’s Scholarship from the University of Guelph.

The scholarship was awarded in September, along with a second Wallin scholarship to Lucas Burton of Oakville, Ont., who represented his high school at a model United Nations assembly.

The Pamela Wallin Chancellor’s Scholarship program was established in 2009 to honour the University’s current chancellor and to recognize students who have taken a leadership role in activities that demonstrate an interest in international relations and development. The recipients are first-year students who seek a broader knowledge through course work and engagement at U of G and who have demonstrated the potential to become leaders in society.

Also presented in September were three Lincoln Alexander Chancellor’s Scholarships. These entrance awards were launched in 2002 to honour U of G’s chancellor emeritus. The Alexander awards recognize students of academic distinction who are aboriginal, persons with a disability or members of a racialized minority, and are intended to enhance student diversity at the University. This year’s recipients are Eddie Kim of Kitchener, Ont., Li “Danny” Liang of Toronto and Sofia Oke of Guelph.

Meet U of G’s current Chancellor’s Scholars:

Lucas Burton, Abbey Park High School, Oakville, Ont.

Excellence in academics throughout high school is only one of the many ways that Lucas has distinguished himself. While earning top overall grades in a number of subjects, he demonstrated a commitment to playing an active role in supporting his high school community. He served as a “Link Leader” to help orient new Grade 9 students, was a member of the Halton District School Board student senate, sat on the school’s social justice and respect councils, and represented his school as a member of the Ontario Provincial Youth Advisory Committee. In 2008 Lucas was recognized by his peers and awarded the school’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative grant on behalf of the Kerr Street Ministries, a local grass-roots charity that addresses the issues surrounding poverty in the community.

Lucas also enjoyed many personal and team successes as part of the Abbey Park debate team. In 2007 he placed first in two regional competitions, was the youngest debater in Ontario to qualify for the provincial debate seminar and was selected to attend the Canadian debate qualifier in Vancouver.

Lucas led Abbey Park’s model United Nations assembly team. He was awarded the school’s Student of Excellence award for academics and leadership. Outside of school, he volunteered as a private tutor and assistant swimming instructor.

Julie Houde, Collège Catholique Franco-Ouest, Ottawa

Little actions can make a great difference, and Julie is committed to changing the world one step at a time. As part of her personal project for her International Baccalaureate, Middle-Year Program, she partnered with the NGO Sole Responsibility to support Sudanese refugees affected by war. She educated her community on the issues in Sudan and led a city-wide shoe drive that raised more than $1,000 and sent 500 pairs of shoes to Darfur. Julie was awarded the Jules Vernes Award for best project reflecting environment and world issues.

She was involved in many aspects of student life at her school. She was president of a school association she established in 2008 to raise funds for mosquito nets in Africa, president of the environment club and vice-president of a group that raises funds in memory of two teachers for families affected by cancer.

Julie’s academic standing has been consistently outstanding. She was a member of her high school track and field and cross-country teams and was a competitive swimmer with the local swim club, where she volunteered countless hours as a timer. As a triathlete with the Bytown Storm triathalon team, she helped to run summer camps for children. She also volunteered alongside her family for the Kanata Food Cupboard and, in 2009, helped to organize a conference for Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa, encouraging youth to act locally and help globally.

Edward Kim, Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute, Kitchener, Ont.

Eddie has been impressing judges at science fairs since Grade 8. He has presented projects on computational probability, microbiology, genetic algorithms and environmental toxicology. He was a medal winner many times both locally and nationally. Eddie chose to share his experience and passion by launching Team Science, a school club to promote participation in science events.

The club flourished under his leadership; in the 2008/2009 school year, every student from Team Science who competed in the regional science fair won a medal.

In 2009, Eddie and his partner won a gold medal in senior computing and information technology at the Canada Wide Science Fair. They were named to Team Canada and attended the Milset International Science and Engineering Fair in Tunisia, where they were recognized as young leaders in scientific research.

Eddie also helped to establish a math enrichment program to teach elementary school students to think “outside the box,” and a computer program aimed at middle school students. As a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, he helped to train lower belts and has been a volunteer for several years at the Kitchener chess festival.

His impressive academic record is distinguished by awards in computer science, band repertoire, chemistry and computer programming. He played flute in the senior concert band and was a member of student council, the debating club and video club.

Li (Danny) Liang, Newtonbrook Secondary School, Toronto

Danny has been committed to protecting the environment since a Grade 9 science class when he became aware of the impact of environmental negligence. He joined Newtonbrook’s environment club and became its president in Grade 11. During his tenure, the club grew from 10 members to over 30 active members. The group raised over $1,000 for recycling bins, planted trees and helped Newtonbrook earn certification as an eco-school. Danny himself received an award for outstanding environmental leadership.

In addition to his environmental work, Danny served as vice-president of the science club, as a Newtonbrook ambassador, an executive member with the Free the Children club, a peer leader helping to ease the transition of students new to Canada, and as a volunteer at Baycrest hospital for seniors. He was a member of the swim team and was a youth leader on a summer camp trip to eastern China.

Danny successfully combined these many activities with a strong academic record, graduating with the highest overall average in his class. He placed first in the school in the Waterloo Canadian open mathematics competition, the senior math league contest, the Avogadro chemistry contest and the national biology competition.

Perhaps most notable on his list of impressive accomplishments was his leadership of a group of students who entered the Sanofi Aventis Biotech competition. Danny proposed a research project to assess the effectiveness of combination treatments involving herbal compounds on pancreatic cancer cells. The students completed their research at SickKids hospital and won fifth place in the Toronto area Sanofi-Aventis Biotalent Challenge.

Sophia Oke, Centennial Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Guelph

Sofia has always had a curiosity about the world around her, but it was her empathy for a friend with breast cancer that encouraged her and a partner to investigate a remedy to reduce the adverse side effects of chemotherapy. Their innovation earned them a gold medal and award of merit at the Waterloo-Wellington Science Fair, the best overall display award at the Sanofi-Aventis Biotalent Challenge, and the Petro-Canada innovation award and certificate of distinction at the Canada Wide Science Fair. Their project was reviewed by the Ontario Genomics Institute and placed third in the national competition in the senior health sciences category.

Despite the many hours Sofia committed to lab research, she found time to volunteer in the community and take an active role in activities at school. She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Canadian Blood Services, St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre, the Canadian Red Cross, the Guelph Civic Museum and the Guelph Youth Council. She was president of the grad committee, an executive member of Global Outreach, a prefect and a tutor, and co-president of DECA, a school business club that competes in both provincial and national competitions.

Sofia also played on the school badminton team and was a member of a soccer team. She has a strong academic record and was named to the City of Guelph’s Top 40 Under 40 list, as well as Youth In Motion’s Top 20 Under 20.

Chancellors’ Scholarships provide $26,000 over four years and include the opportunity for a summer research assistantship after the first year of study (a $6,000 stipend) with one of Guelph’s leading professors. Scholars are nominated by their secondary school principals. Although all Canadian high schools receive an information package about the scholarships, interested students are invited to learn more by visiting the U of G website or by contacting the University’s associate registrar, Student Financial Services, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 56032.