A sixth Ballenas Secondary School student has won the prestigious Schulich Scholarship.
Renata Kamel will put the $100,000 scholarship to good use when she begins a mechanical engineering program at the University of Victoria this fall. She is the sixth Ballenas student in 10 years to win.
Each year, 100 entrepreneurial-minded high school graduates, enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or math program are awarded the scholarship. Every high school in Canada can nominate one graduating student per year.
Kamel said she believes she was chosen because of her academic achievements, leadership and involvement in extra curricular, community-focused activities, such as the Ballenas Interact Club.
“We basically do environmental projects. In the past few years the environment has a been a big part of our group and we’ve also done projects in the community, working with folks who are homeless and stuff like that,” Kamel said.
She has been a member since Grade 8. Interact is supported by the local Rotary Club.
Kamel said the school’s Science Research Methods (SRM) program gave her and some classmates a chance to work on year-long independent study projects, such as one this year about chemical distillation that taught them how to calibrate pH metres.
“Last year I did a project about an aerial monitoring drone with a group of my classmates and it was a project that I really enjoyed,” Kamel said. “We got to design the airframe, figure out all of the programming behind it and basically put it up and fly, taking our data samples and trying to figure out levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.”
Her older brother, Victor, won the scholarship two years ago and is in his second year of studying computer science at UVic. Kamel said Victor was a big inspiration.
“Of course, there’s a little bit of sibling rivalry. I’m planning on graduating with more credits than he did,” she said with a laugh.
Kamel said there is plenty of awareness regarding the scholarship at Ballenas and students are encouraged to work towards that goal. She also credited her teachers and the SRM program for its emphasis on practical real-world experience.