Ballenas Secondary student Victor Kamel received the phone call telling him he had earned a prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship to UBC for $80,000 and was over the moon.
A week later, he received an email, notifying him that he has been awarded another Schulich — this time to the University of Victoria for $100,000.
“This year, they had 1,400 candidates, who are all super well-qualified individuals,” he said. “I’m honestly very honoured that I was selected by UBC, it was very exciting.”
The scholarships are awarded to high school graduates enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or math program and are two of just 100 awarded across the country. Each year, there are approximatey 1,500 nominees, with each high school in Canada able to nominate one graduating student.
Ultimately, Kamel chose to take UVic’s offer.
“It’s closer to my family and I wanted to stay on the Island, I like it here a lot,” he said. “It was a very difficult choice, though.”
Earlier this school year, Kamel coded a Raspberry Pi (a single-board computer) with Parksville classmates Yehia El Karsh and Spencer Bradbury to be sent into the International Space Station’s orbit. He’s been involved in other experiments, volunteers at the museum and with the cadets.
“My academics I think are pretty strong, but I don’t believe it’s the reason I won,” he said. “I think it’s because I do a variety of different things.”
Kamel said the projects he has done at Ballenas have been especially meaningful, and points to physics and specialized science teacher Carl Savage as a big reason for his success.
“It’s absolutely thanks to him that we got so far,” he said.
September is uncertain for many students due to COVID-19, but Kamel said he’s still excited to dive into a post-secondary career in computer science, regardless of what it will look like in the fall. Kamel calls the scholarship a big relief for his family since he has two other siblings who want to go to post-secondary as well.
“I’m very excited for university,” he said.