Schulich Program Seeks Israel's Next Leaders
Shahaf Sigal, 22, a first year student at the Sagol School of Neuroscience, couldn't have received the news that she was accepted to the Schulich Leader Scholarships Program at a more symbolic timing: she was at a summer camp for diabetic children, where she had been volunteering for the past 3 years. Having attended the camp every year as a child, she had now returned as a counselor, providing these kids a fun and empowering experience alongside peers facing similar challenges. "Being selected for the scholarship was a huge vote of confidence in my ability to lead."
Shahaf is one of 10 TAU students accepted each year to the Schulich Leader Scholarships program. This prestigious framework was established in 2012 by Seymour Schulich, one of Canada’s best-known philanthropists. The program enables outstanding students – in Israel and Canada – to dedicate themselves to their studies in the most demanding scientific fields, and aims to nurture the next global scientific leaders. The generous scholarships are granted based on merit, social involvement and need. They support the entire course of studies for an undergraduate degree in scientific and technological fields. Nearly 50 scholarships have been granted to top TAU students since the program was launched, with the first batch of recipients already successfully completing their degree.
Shahaf's initial dream to study either medicine or psychology was formulated while she volunteered for Sherut Leumi (National Service) at a public medical clinic, since – as a diabetic – she wasn't called for regular army service. Growing up in Nesher with a single mom and two younger brothers, Shahaf says that the scholarship provides her with a sense of security and a peace of mind, as if someone has laid a safety net under her feet. "Without this scholarship, I am not sure that I would have managed such a demanding track as neuroscience, which combines both biology and psychology, and may have settled for a less challenging field so that I could work and support myself." Now, she is already dreaming of continuing on to an advanced degree, and is determined to excel in her studies, and “earn” the Schulich Foundation’s faith in her.
Similarly, Yarden Haskin, 25, a first year biomedical engineering Schulich Scholar from Pardes-Hanna, says "I cannot begin to describe how life-changing this scholarship is. These days, taking on a degree in biomedical engineering is nearly impossible without some kind of economic backing and support. For me it has made a world of difference."
Having served in the army in the elite combat unit Duvdevan, Yarden says that social responsibility was an inherent part of his upbringing. During his high school years, he volunteered regularly in the scouts with Holocaust survivors, new immigrants, and youth at risk.
While the Schulich program seeks students with leadership qualities and a commitment to social involvement, voluntary activity during the degree is not a prerequisite, allowing recipients to fully concentrate on their studies and aim high for the future. Despite this, both Shahaf and Yarden say they feel even more committed now to give back to the community.
"I wish I had a way to express my immense appreciation to Mr. Schulich for his true generosity and kindness," says Yarden. To future candidates he recommends: "Ask yourself whether this is indeed the place for you, if social involvement really flows in your veins? If so – this is the place for you."
Two hundred and seventy candidates applied for the program for the next academic year, and 10 promising young leaders will be chosen to participate – 5 recipients in engineering and 5 in the exact sciences.