Two incoming UBC students win Canada's largest STEM Scholarship

Two incoming UBC students — Lasya Vankayala and Noah Tajwar — have won Canada’s largest undergraduate STEM scholarship.

The Schulich Leadership Scholarship was founded in 2012 with a $100 million dollar donation from businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich. Fifty scholarships in Canada and fifty in Israel are awarded to students who show academic excellence, leadership and/or financial need. These scholarships are worth up to $100,000.

Vankayala will be entering UBC’s faculty of science in September and wants to pursue a degree in biochemistry. Tajwar will be entering the faculty of applied sciences and hopes to become a electrical or computer engineer.

Both students are entering UBC with impressive resumes. Vankayala has volunteered with the Canuck’s Autism Network for the past two years, conducted biomedical research at a lab at SFU for the last four years, teaches Carnatic singing — a form of traditional South Indian singing that she has studied for 15 years — and founded a nonprofit organization called Life Over Labels. The organization, which currently functions as a blog, has 15 writers who aim to educate people on the dangers labels can have on an individual and encourage readers to be themselves.

Vankayala hopes to expand Life Over Labels onto campus and start doing outreach work. She is also finishing up her first novel.

“I really like everything I do, which makes it easy for me to juggle it," said Vankayala, whose time management skills will prove useful this year as she enters her first year at UBC. “I’ve been looking forward to starting university for a long time."

Tajwar graduated from Riverside Secondary School’s French Immersion Program in Port Coquitlam, BC this past fall and was the co-leader of Rapid Change — Riverside's Humanitarian Club. The club raised $10,000 to build a classroom in rural China. Tajwar has also put his programming skills to work to develop the Riverside app, which gives students access to school announcements and an academic calendar. He has also spent the last two years working at Hootsuite, a social media management platform.

In his free time, Tajwar enjoys playing soccer, basketball, volleyball and the piano.

"[UBC] has a beautiful campus and I will be living on residence while attending UBC which was something I was really looking forward to, going into university,” Tajwar said in an email statement to The Ubyssey.

Vankayala plans to use the scholarship towards her undergraduate degree and the PhD she hopes to one day earn. Tajwar plans to do the same, saving a little for personal pet projects.