Get to know McMaster’s 2020 Schulich Leaders – Faculty of Engineering

Get to know McMaster’s 2020 Schulich Leaders

Meet the 10 incoming students awarded Canada’s most coveted undergraduate scholarships for science, technology, engineering and math.

Students sit on a bench outside the John Hodgins Engineering Building entrance

Schulich Leader scholarships were awarded to one hundred students at 20 partner universities across Canada. Five recipients are from the Faculty of Engineering and five are from the Faculty of Science.  

The scholarships are awarded based on academic excellence, leadership and financial need. Schulich Leaders are entrepreneurial-minded students looking to pursue technology, innovation, engineering or scientific research.

Below, McMaster Schulich Leaders share everything from why they chose McMaster, to how they stay motivated during the pandemic, to what they would take with them to a desert island.

Shathurshika Chandrakumar, Engineering I

Shathurshika Chandrakumar portrait

What it means to be a Schulich Leader: The title of a Schulich Leader, beyond granting me incredibly generous financial aid, also opens up the door to an invaluable network of individuals and opportunities in STEM, and being a part of such a community only furthers my resolve to keep working hard and contributing to the world around me.
Dream job: 
A position in the Aerospace Industry where I can work directly towards bringing advancements of space exploration down to Earth for the benefit of global issues.
Why Mac Eng: McMaster’s renowned research and engineering facilities along with the option of gaining experience in my field through co-op.
Outside of the classroom: I am very passionate about advocating for opportunities within STEM in the community, particularly to female students and/or those from low-income backgrounds.
Role model: My parents. I always strive to emulate their work ethic in my academic pursuits, and their generosity of heart in my passions outside of the classroom.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic:
 Creating my own schedule, whether it be for brushing up on my academic work or learning something new like coding and sticking to it on a daily basis.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this Fall: How hands-on engineering projects will be developed in a virtual setting and the new tools that I will learn in the process. I’m nervous about connecting with my peers this fall in this new environment. It is very strange to get used to when seeing faces through the computer screen rather than in person, however I am sure that this new way of connecting will grow more comfortable as time passes. 
Three things to bring to a desert island: I need to feed my creativity so I would bring a book, perhaps a childhood classic like Harry Potter, or my recent favourite A Game of Thrones, a pencil and a sketchbook.

Erin Donahue-Boyle, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Erin Donahue-Boyle portrait

What it means to be a Schulich Leader: A tremendous honour and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people. I am humbled by, and very grateful for, the investment that will enable me to fully dedicate myself to my studies for the next four years.
Dream Job: I am interested in working in scientific research pertaining to the environment, particularly in fields related to food security or toxicology.
Why McMaster Science: McMaster Science is appealing because of its flexibility in the first year, the many minor programs it offers, and the excellent opportunities for research assistantship positions in upper years.
Outside the classroom: I love to read about and discuss all sorts of topics, including the environment, philosophy, medical research, and psychology. I am also a fan of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and ice skating.
Role model: I have many role models. They are the people who take the time to put aside what they are doing and help someone else to learn, grow, and become a better person.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: The extra time allowed me to explore academic topics that interest me in greater detail. This makes it easy to stay engaged with what I am trying to learn.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this Fall: I am really looking forward to taking so many interesting courses this year! However, I worry about perhaps missing some of the person-to-person interaction that is an integral part of the learning process.
Three things to bring to a desert island: Matches, water purification tablets, and a snorkel!

Magalie Durepos-Létourneau, Engineering I

Magalie Durepos-Létourneau portrait

What it means to be a Schulich leader: Being a Schulich leader is a lifelong commitment to bring positive change with integrity, innovation and leadership. It means pursuing my passion for STEM with the incredible opportunity to focus entirely on my studies and career goals, to one day better society through engineering.
Dream job: 
Working in the space industry, either designing rockets, satellites, telescopes and rovers, or pursuing research on the origins of the universe.
Why Mac Eng: McMaster Engineering seemed to me like the best institution for undergraduate research opportunities. Their many design teams and engineering clubs give students the opportunity to connect and learn valuable hands-on skills outside the classroom, which is something I aspire to do.
Outside of the classroom: I have been playing classical piano since the age of 4, and I learned to play other instruments performing with my high school’s music group. I believe music is a universal language to express feelings that cannot be put into words, and it has been an essential part of my life and well-being.
Role model(s): I have always been inspired by activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King or even more recently Greta Thunberg because they are a constant reminder to have the courage to do what is right, and to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: One thing I started doing in 10th grade and kept doing during the pandemic was hanging up pictures of stars, universities I hoped to get into or even companies or institutions I dreamed of working for one day. That way, every time I was tempted to procrastinate or waste time on my phone, I looked up and found motivation in my goals.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I am looking forward to learning virtually since I think it will allow me to grow and gain new technological skills that might be valuable to future employers. Online learning will probably make it more challenging to meet people and work in groups. Thankfully, McMaster has already created great programs such as Ember and Archway to help us connect with other students, staff and mentors.
Three things to bring to a desert island: A journal so I could keep track of the days and of who I am to stay grounded, an axe to cut wood and make hunting and fishing gear to survive and a book called How to survive on a desert island because let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t survive very long without it!

Tomas Frankovich, Chemical and Physical Sciences

Tomas Frankovich portrait

What it means to be a Schulich Leader: It is truly humbling. It’s incredible to join a community with so many exceptional students and leaders, and I’m immensely grateful to McMaster and the Schulich Foundation for providing me this amazing opportunity.
Dream job: 
It’s hard to say what my dream job would be, but I’m really interested in chemical biology, and as it stands right now I’d want to pursue a career in that field.
Why McMaster Science: McMaster has a great science faculty, and their chemistry department is one of the best in the country. I also really like the Mac campus and the Hamilton/Dundas area, and I’m excited to get to live on residence when things open back up.
Outside of the classroom: I enjoy playing guitar, cycling, reading novels and listening to music.
Role model: Richard Feynman. His sense of humour, love of learning, and brilliance continue to inspire me.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I’ve been staying motivated by doing a lot of cycling and reading. I also got the chance to relax at my cottage for a week recently.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I’m looking forward to starting university level courses. I’m a little bit nervous about staying focused and productive while working virtually.
Three things to bring to a desert island: A book and a guitar to keep me occupied. I’d also definitely bring a car door – so I can roll the window down if I get too hot.

Samuel Khzym, Engineering I

Samuel Khzym portrait

What it means to be a Schulich Leader: I have started to see this honour as an opportunity to inspire leadership in others. Everyone has something that they’re passionate about, and sometimes they just need a small spark of inspiration before they follow that passion and become a great leader in their own way.
Dream job: The CEO of a startup company specializing in the development of self-driving car technology.
Why Mac Eng: The community in the Fireball Family has shown itself to be one of the most friendly, supportive, and uplifting groups of people. Throughout all of my concerns in transitioning from high school to university, several upper year McMaster students, staff, and fellow first years took the time to talk with me and answer any questions or doubts I had.
Outside the classroom: Whenever I see a chance for such a solution and I am able to turn my idea into reality through software, it is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling things for me.
Role model: Thomas Edison; he took every failure as an opportunity to learn and propel him closer to his ultimate goals.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: Surrounding myself with a sense of a community that I am a part of has been very beneficial to my mental well-being. I have been working with other Schulich Leaders on Stemulation, a small company dedicated to the education and entertainment of young people aspiring to work in the STEM field.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I am looking forward to clubs where I can make connections with like-minded people like the SumoBots team, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, and the competitive coding team.
Three things to bring to a desert island: My main priorities would be to maintain my physical and mental health and to call for help. I’d bring my phone with a solar powered charging case, a tent kit and a water filtration device like a life straw.

Hayley Monson, Mathematics and Statistics

Hayley Monson portrait

What it means to be a Schulich Leader: To me, being named a Schulich Leader places a responsibility on me to be a leader within and without the classroom, and to continue to pursue and excel in my own STEM studies, so I can help to define that future.
Dream job: I would like to combine my passions for mathematics and biology by creating new methods for epidemiological modelling. The need for better prediction of the rise of epidemics and pandemics, and improved model of disease progression through populations has become increasingly clear in this unprecedented time.
Why McMaster Science: I wanted a school that was very strong in STEM, but one that also retained a feeling of community that many large STEM programs lack. I liked the small size of the McMaster STEM programs and after touring the campus, I was convinced by the warm and welcoming attitudes of the professors and students that I spoke to.
Outside the classroom: I spend much of my free time coding, solving math problems, and bettering my chess skills. I also read avidly, with genres ranging from Chemistry Textbooks to Victorian fiction.
Role model: The greatest role models in any field are those who show initiative while lacking the educational tools and resources accessible to others. Benjamin Franklin embodies this ideal, having been born into poverty, while subsequently pursuing a variety of careers which have had wide-reaching effects on the modern world.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: For me, routine has been key in the pandemic. I still wake up at 7:30, get dressed, and then I make a To-Do list for the day to come. The pandemic has been an amazing opportunity to foster skills and interests that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to grow, and for that I am grateful.
Most excited about and/or most nervous about working virtually this fall: I am tremendously excited to begin learning next semester, even if it is only online. I am nervous about what I will miss in the absence of human contact; the group dynamic that stems from working and being with other students in an academic environment is one that I anticipate will be difficult to replicate virtually.
Three things to bring to a desert island: Practically, if asked about three things I would bring on to a desert island, they would be an ax (for hunting, and shelter building), a lifestraw (for water purification), and a lighter. However, if I was concerned about my mental wellbeing, I would need at least one novel (The Count of Monte Cristo), a Rubik’s cube, and a pen and paper with some very challenging math problems. 

Ahmed Raja, Engineering I

Ahmed Raja portrait

What it means to be a Schulich leader: The opportunity to pursue an Engineering degree without any financial burden alleviates tons of potential stress and allows me to focus on school and extracurricular activities like McMaster’s design teams. I plan to use this achievement to help inspire students younger than me to pursue engineering through various avenues like FIRST Robotics.
Dream job: Work in the research and development sector for the automotive or space-exploration industry.
Why Mac Eng: With background experience in FIRST Robotics, I am excited to join vehicle teams like EcoCAR and FormulaE, as well as some of the various non-technical clubs McMaster has. Also, McMaster’s flexible coop program leaves tons of avenues open for me in terms of internships, allowing me to control my experience.
Outside the classroom: I am most passionate about robotics and the future of automation. Ever since I joined my high school’s FIRST Robotics team, I have been hooked on researching how some of these companies accomplish these amazing milestones to automate the world around us. 
Role model: Elon Musk’s ability to be involved in the engineering aspects of his businesses while managing various aspects of them as an owner is something I dream of doing myself.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I started biking 100 kilometers per week to make sure I stay physically healthy, play video games with friends to wind down, and try to spend some time with family and friends (in a safe manner of course).
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I am stoked to start learning new things and making new, life-long friends. I also cannot wait to be the first class to take the Integrated Cornerstone Design Projects in Engineering (1P13) course.
Three things to bring to a desert island?: Assuming we aren’t stranded and are just visiting for leisure, I’d take good company in the form of family and friends, a soccer ball to have some fun, and a tent to sleep in and get away from sun.

Aaron Shannon, Mathematics and Statistics

Aaron Shannon portrait

What it means to be a Schulich Leader: It’s a great honour and I hope that my experience mentoring younger students will help inspire them to get involved in the fields of STEM.
Dream job: Working on a team developing nuclear fusion as a viable source of energy.
Why McMaster Science: I could pursue my combined studies in mathematics and physics. Attending McMaster will also allow me to continue mentoring FLL teams within the community.
Outside of the classroom: I am passionate about helping others experience the excitement of learning new skills in robotics, swimming, and karate.
Role model(s): My parents, who have supported all my extracurricular activities and encouraged me to never stop learning.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I have maintained a daily routine which includes various workout activities, learning a new computer programming language and playing online with my friends.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: Starting classes and discovering ways to stay connected while logging in from the comfort of my own home. I am nervous about the lack of social interaction and missing out on the relationships that are developed through participating in campus activities.
Three things to take to a desert island: I would take a sailboat, my best friend and scuba gear.

Tyler Tat Lem Ng, Mathematics and Statistics

Tyler Tat Lem Ng portrait

What it means to be a Schulich leader: It means being a member of the next generation of pioneers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A Schulich Leader attempts to use STEM as means to create positive change in the world.
Dream job: A research mathematician who does teaching on the side.
Why McMaster Science: A number of factors led to my decision to choose McMaster Science, including the offer of the financial aid of the Schulich Scholarship, and the great reputation of the Faculty. 
Outside of the classroom: I am passionate about writing. I enjoy the act of manifesting my thoughts and ideas into physical words, whether those words be pixels on a screen or graphite on paper.
Role model: Leonhard Euler is certainly an inspiration. His vast, varied, and deeply influential work just goes to show how much (and in Euler’s case, so very, very much) one person can accomplish.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I take pride in my goals, and the knowledge that every day I can work towards making those goals a reality is a wonderful motivator.
Most excited about and/or are most nervous about working virtually this fall: For years teachers have refined their teaching practices with an in-person approach in mind. I’m worried that the sudden transition to virtual learning will negatively impact the quality of lessons, as for many teachers online teaching is unfamiliar territory.
Three things to bring to a desert island: A helicopter, a friendly helicopter pilot, and enough money to compensate the pilot for bringing me home.

Anthony Vu, Computer Science

Anthony Vu portrait

What it means to be a Schulich leader: Becoming a Schulich Leader verifies that I have an outstanding community around me. My schools, Cathedral Catholic High School and Saint Patrick’s Catholic Elementary School, my parish, Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, and my family have supported me so much that I could never pay them back. 
Dream job: Anything that allows me to support my family and community.
Why Mac Eng: The kind faculty and staff members (shoutout to Patricia Kousoulas).
Outside of the classroom: Volunteering. I have been an altar server for over a decade and plan to continue the streak. All of the clubs and teams at Mac are amazing so I’m struggling to pick a few. I am definitely interested in technology clubs such as Competitive Programming and RoboMaster.
Role model: Everyone, because each person has a unique story.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I like to think about this quote from Edwin Louis Cole; “Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit.”
Most excited about working virtually this fall: Everything
Three things would bring to a desert island: The book, Get Smarter, an airplane, and a pilot.