While cash is critical to fund post-secondary learning, Saanich teen Divina David argues the internship will prove the most valuable component of her prestigious Amazon Future Engineer scholarship.
A recent graduate of Pacific Christian, David is among 10 from B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario to earn $30,000 to help cover university tuition over four years, along with the opportunity to complete a paid summer internship at one of Amazon’s Canadian tech hubs.
“I’m really excited about the co-op,” she said. “It’s Amazon which is amazing. I want to see how it’s run and I’m excited. I don’t even know where I’m going yet but it’s in one of the tech hubs. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to be a good experience.”
Her software engineering program at the University of Victoria has a mandatory co-op component that it will fill.
“It also kickstarts getting into other co-ops, the first one is always the hardest … Amazon’s a great place to start,” she said.
David was recognized for exceptional academic achievements and advocacy for women in science and technology. While in middle school, she founded a competitive robotics team that spotlighted the contribution of women to STEM education and helped kickstart the integration of robotics into her school’s curriculum.
“There’s not that many women in STEM and I didn’t really have anyone to look up to that was someone like me,” she said. “I want to create spaces for girls mostly but young children as well, to make it welcoming for them, so they can explore their interests in a way that is very inclusive.”
Her interest started in sixth grade. After spotting a robotics competition, David gathered a group of interested girls, then pitched funding it to the school. The team did well the year, winning a programming award and local competition. The school took notice of those results, she said.
“Once we did it, a lot of other people got interested as well, then it became a yearly thing,” she said.
Despite the glitch of the pandemic, the robotics program spread through to her June graduation from Pacific Christian. It spurred a curriculum program she’s proud of, and hopes to go back and help with the school club as a leader.
“It’s a good starting point but I want there to be more opportunities,” she said.
In the meantime, she’s furthering her future career, embarking on a software degree at UVic.
“I was always going to girls-can-code events and STEM conferences. I was always interested in the software part. I feel like my brain is wired that way. It’s really interesting,” David said. “It’s like problem-solving on the go and I really love that.
“I feel it’s a good jumping off point as well. There are a lot of different avenues I can go to in my future.”
The Amazon Future Engineer scholarship program supports graduating high school students from underserved and underrepresented communities who have demonstrated exceptional academic performance and leadership in school, work and community activities. To qualify, candidates must plan to study computer science or a related field at an accredited Canadian university and demonstrate financial need. Learn more about the program at AmazonFutureEngineer.ca.