A St. Mary student has been named the recipient of a prestigious scholarship.
Ashim Dhital has earned the Schulich Leader Scholarship and will receive $25,000 for four years, for a total of $100,000.
Fifty of the scholarships are handed out annually across Canada through participating universities. Most universities have only two scholarships to give out — $100,000 for a student studying engineering, and $80,000 for one studying science or math.
The five most in-demand universities receive one additional engineering and one additional math scholarship.
Potential recipients are nominated by their high school, with the winners are chosen by the university.
Dhital is the University of Saskatchewan’s pick for the prestigious award.
After being announced as the winner in front of the student body Wednesday, Dhital struggled to put the moment into words.
“It’s amazing. It’s a good feeling,” he said.
Dhital said he was honoured to even be the nominee chosen by his school, let alone the engineering winner for the University of Saskatchewan. He found out he would get the award after having a phone call with the university about a month ago.
“I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say,” Dhital said.
“I was on the phone and just really excited.”
Each year, over 300,000 students apply. About 1,500 are selected by their high school, and only 50 win.
Students must demonstrate two of academic excellence; outstanding community, business or entrepreneurial leadership; financial need. They must also be entrepreneurial minded and intending to pursue a career in technology, innovation, engineering or scientific research. Nominees have to write essays and answer other questions as part of the application process.
Since 2012, only six per cent of the 320 Schulich Leaders have come from Saskatchewan.
Dhital credited the staff and the atmosphere at St. Mary for leading to his success.
“(The atmosphere at school) was a huge factor,” he said.
“It’s one of the biggest factors because the staff puts so much effort in with every student to make sure they succeed in what they want to do. They really care about your learning and they work really hard.”
Dhital’s mother, Balu, also thanked St. Mary and the teachers and other staff.
“Thank you to the school,” she said.
“Thank you for the teachers for working to … support and help.”
Dhital’s father Narayan, spoke about his son’s accomplishments.
“We are very happy for our son. He is a deserving young boy. He works so hard,” he said.
“He does different things, not only in school but outside in the community, volunteering and participating in programs.”
Ashim said he is looking forward to starting his engineering studies. The first year, he said, is common. But from there, Ashim is considering pursuing mechanical engineering.
“I’m really excited. (The University of Saskatchewan is a great institution … and I’m really excited to start learning about engineering,” he said.
“I’m to take on the challenge and just keep doing what I’m doing right now.”
Academic awards, scholarships and athletic honours handed out
The two-hour ceremony held at the St. Mary gym Wednesday honoured several students for academic, artistic and athletic achievements.
In addition to the Schulich Leader Scholarship, Chloe Green was recognized for winning the Lives that Make a Difference Essay Award, Ang Ri lee for the Paddy O’ROurke Poetry Scholarship, Caleb Hammond for the Rotary Citizenship Award and Claire Fischer for the J.M. Cuelenaere Public Library Scholarship.
Grade 12 students learned who won the subject awards, and several other prizes, for extracurriculars such as Model UN, yearbook, band and theatre were given out, along with the athletic awards.
Principal Mark Phaneuf said each of those prizes is reflective of the entire school community.
“If you think about every one of these awards handed out today, we do need to recognize excellence throughout this building, but not one of these awards was earned in a solitary fashion,” he said.
“I’d like to thank the staff and students of this school. It’s a wonderful place to work, it’s a wonderful place to be. You just give so much of yourselves. On a daily basis, I’m in awe. Every day I come to work I see so much happening with so many and with so much joy.”
Phaneuf said it is the staff and students who make the school’s atmosphere what it is.
“People come up to me and say ‘Mark, you run a great school. What a wonderful job you’re doing.’ I hear that a lot in the community and I always say the same thing. It’s the staff and the students. I’m just here for the ride folks, and it’s been a really good ride so far,” he said.
“I commend you on your efforts, and to everyone who played a supportive role in those students achieving what they’ve done, we thank you for your willingness to give.”