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Samuel Khzym

Schulich Leader, Engineering I

What does it mean to be named a Schulich leader?

To me, being named a Schulich Leader is a great honour. I am deeply humbled by being a part of such a talented and fantastic group of individuals, and I am eternally grateful to the Schulich foundation for their incredible generosity in cultivating young talent. Recently, however, 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. As a Schulich Leader, I intend to inspire others to do just that. With enough great and dedicated leaders, I sincerely believe that we can make this world a better place for all.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be the CEO of a startup company specializing in the development of self-driving car technology. I have always loved entrepreneurship, having been at the head of a couple of startup companies throughout high school. I also believe that our society is rapidly developing to the point where fully autonomous vehicles might begin to be driven on the road in the next 20 years. Not only is the technology involved incredibly cool, but I believe it will save thousands of lives in vehicle accidents caused by slow reaction times and improper communication between drivers. I would love to be one of the pioneers in that field.

What made you choose McMaster Engineering?

I chose McMaster engineering over all other programs for two main reasons. Firstly, McMaster’s engineering program is very reputable, with the faculty of engineering ranking as the sixth-best engineering program in Canada in 2020, according to McLean’s magazine. I know that the co-op program is also very strong, with engineering students working at companies like Microsoft in their first few years! The second reason is that 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. For these reasons, I’m very proud to be a part of the Fireball Family!

What are you most passionate about outside of the classroom?

For the past few years, I have been incredibly passionate about computer programming and solving problems using technology. I believe that there are many processes that can be made more efficient and problems that can be solved by the application of technology. 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. For example, when I saw that my robotics team was scouting other teams by writing down their notes on paper and manually transferring all the data to Excel, I decided to learn to program a mobile app to use less paper and make the process more efficient. Throughout the learning process, I gained valuable expertise and developed my problem-solving skills. In the end, the project was cut short due to the pandemic, but the process of having a small idea and turning it slowly but surely into reality is my great passion and is one of the most motivating things for me.

Who is your role model?

A big role model in my life has been Thomas Edison. Many times in my life, I’ve found myself working on a project that I thought was interesting and would improve myself or others. However, there are often many roadblocks in that process that leave me frustrated and confused. At that stage, I have two options—to give up on the project and focus my efforts on something else (the option that I admittedly take more often than I’d like to admit), or to persevere and reach the goal no matter the hardships. In those times, I think of Edison, who experienced far greater challenges while following his passion. He took every failure as an opportunity to learn and propel him closer to his ultimate goals. Finally, after “failing” so many times, he invented the device that we consider indispensable in modern society—the light bulb. Obviously, not everything about him was good, but seeing his perseverance and dedication to his work, it makes me want to work all the harder in my endeavours. In the words of the great man himself, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

How have you stayed motivated during the pandemic?

In all honesty, it has been difficult staying motivated during the lockdown. With many services that I took for granted like school, extracurricular clubs, and most of my tutoring business suddenly being taken away, it forced me, along with all of us, to adapt and find new ways to stay engaged. Thankfully, I have found that working together with other driven and motivated people has helped me to stay focused. Surrounding myself with a sense of a community that I am a part of has been very beneficial to my mental well-being. For example, I have been working with other Schulich Leaders on our own small media company called Stemulation, a company dedicated to the education and entertainment of young people aspiring to work in the STEM field. This, along with keeping a sense of weekly schedule through my workplace and the online volunteering I do with my church, has kept me fulfilled and has helped me stay positive throughout this difficult situation. The silver lining that I can see is that we all will make it out the other side of this difficult time more resilient and adaptable than when we came into it.

What are you looking forward to and/or are most nervous about working virtually this Fall?

I am greatly looking forward to being a part of the awesome clubs and teams at McMaster. Although our access to certain services may be limited this term, I have hope that all students will be able to get involved in one way or another. I am especially 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. I am uncertain about how these teams will operate virtually, which is a slight source of anxiety, but I’m in contact with members of McMaster’s wonderful community who are able to answer my questions to the best of their ability. I am also a bit nervous about online learning because I learn better in person and am a bit concerned that it will affect the quality of my education, but I believe that with programs like EMBER to ease us into virtual learning, we will all adapt and get more comfortable as the term goes on.

What three things would you take with you to a desert island?

If I were stranded on a desert island, I would say that my main three priorities would be to maintain my physical health, mental health, and to call for help. To maintain my mental health and to have a device that could call for help, I would bring my phone with a solar-powered charging case. This would allow me to contact anyone for help if there was a signal, and the books and games I have saved on the device would keep me mentally sharp. Secondly, for shelter, I would bring a tent kit that I could use in bad weather conditions and when I need to rest. Finally, to increase my chances of survival, I would bring a water filtration device like a life straw that would allow me to keep hydrated.