York University’s Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients share passion for solving global challenges

Keele campus Fall image showing the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence

Two graduating high-school students from the Greater Toronto Area are headed to York University this fall to begin their studies in engineering with the help of the Schulich Leader Scholarship program.

Above, from left: Aryan Soni and Kiara Mavalwala

Incoming Lassonde School of Engineering students Aryan Soni and Kiara Mavalwala are among the 100 students chosen from across Canada this year to receive the Schulich Leader Scholarship for undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). There were 1,400 nominations this year, from a larger pool of 350,000 high-school candidates. The Schulich Leader Scholarship is awarded to students entering university studies in science, technology, engineering or math who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, charisma and creativity.

Soni is receiving $80,000 over four years to pursue computer science studies at Lassonde. As student body president at Heart Lake Secondary School, he launched a school-wide charitable initiative in collaboration with Samsung to support SickKids. He also co-founded a charity that sponsors underprivileged students in India, raising enough funds to sponsor tuition for 15 students to date. In 2020 he founded Ultrain Athletics, an e-commerce business that addressed the rising demand for at-home fitness products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soni hopes to one day launch an artificial intelligence startup to democratize algorithmic investing.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the Schulich Foundation, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Lassonde School of Engineering for this incredible opportunity,” said Soni. “With the backing of this scholarship, I look forward to employing my passion for computer science to facilitate positive change.”

Mavalwala is receiving $100,000 over four years to pursue engineering, also at Lassonde. A graduate of St. Augustine Catholic High School, Mavalwala was an executive at her school’s chapter of Best Buddies and was instrumental in transitioning its activities online. This ensured students with and without disabilities remained engaged at a time when they most needed an inclusive space. In her role as president at youth organization Project 5K, she championed several volunteer events, resulting in more than 70 students participating in free online tutoring, more than 850 items being donated to local shelters and 1,200 Valentine’s Day cards being sent to essential workers – all while challenged with the pandemic. A decade from now, Mavalwala hopes to be working as an engineer and to be the CEO of an engineering startup to eradicate water advisories in Indigenous communities across Canada.

“I’m excited to be working alongside bright minds at the Lassonde School of Engineering where the sky is the limit,” said Mavalwala.

“We are proud to celebrate 10 years of Schulich Leader Scholarships, the premiere STEM scholarship program in Canada and the world,” said the program’s founder Seymour Schulich. “This group of 100 outstanding students will represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer and will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded technology innovators.”

Schulich Leader Scholarships Canada

Recognizing the increasing importance and impact that STEM disciplines will have on the prosperity of future generations, businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich established this $100+ million scholarship fund in 2012 to encourage our best and brightest students to become Schulich Leader Scholars: the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded technology innovators.

Through the Schulich Foundation, these prestigious entrance scholarships were awarded to 100 high-school graduates this year, enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics undergraduate program at 20 partner universities in Canada. Every high school in Canada can submit one Schulich Leader nominee per academic year based on academic excellence in STEM, entrepreneurial leadership and financial need.