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Incoming Lassonde students to pursue dreams of entrepreneurship, giving back, with $100K+ Schulich Leader scholarship

This press release was originally published on the York University News site.

Students entering Lassonde School of Engineering program receive Canada’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) scholarship

Two students have been named York University’s recipients of the prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship.

Out of a pool of 350,000 potential candidates across Canada, more than 1,400 students were nominated, of which 100 received this celebrated award.

With the help of the scholarship, the graduating high school students from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas will be furthering their knowledge at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York to support their goals of starting their own companies and putting their skills to use for the greater good.

Mitchell Clapperton, 17, of Waterdown, Ont. is entering an electrical engineering program and Jasmine Gherman, 18, of Toronto, Ont., will study computer programming.

The Schulich Leader Scholarship is Canada’s largest for undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It is awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, charisma and creativity, as well as financial need.

Clapperton will receive a $120,000 scholarship and Gherman will receive $100,000, as per the scholarship funding for Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Science programs.

“We’re delighted that Jasmine and Mitchell have chosen Lassonde as their academic home,” says Jane Goodyer, dean of Lassonde. “Their decision to pursue their aspirations here underscores our school’s reputation as a world-class hub for future engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to collaborate in improving the world for everyone. As they embark on their postsecondary journeys with the generous support of the Schulich Leader Scholarship program, we look forward to seeing the positive impact they’ll make within our School, the STEM field, and beyond.”

Mitchell Clapperton

Mitchell Clapperton, Schulich Leader scholarship winner

Clapperton hails from the Waterdown area situated halfway between Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton where he was enrolled in the French Immersion program and founded the school’s STEM club, and Burlington Ont. where he volunteered as a coach for the Special Olympics softball and floor hockey teams. He was a gold medal winner in four regional science fairs, three of which went on to win medals Canada-wide and one that qualified for an international competition.  

With entrepreneurial instincts, many of Clapperton’s ideas are inspired by talking to people in his community, such a pharmacy worker who developed carpal tunnel syndrome, which inspired his first real invention in the seventh grade, and more recently, a firefighter who shared challenges, which led him to look at creating navigation systems for emergency vehicles to help reduce response times in urban areas. In addition to receiving an excellent STEM education, he says the program at Lassonde at York appealed to him specifically for the support offered to entrepreneurs.

“The cool thing about science fairs is there’s always a little piece of ‘for good’ in there. I’d love to keep that up and keep innovation for good as a goal in the future,” he says. “I am really looking forward to getting this education so I can tackle more projects like this and this Schulich Leader scholarship will help me to do that.”

Jasmine Gherman

Jasmine-Gherman, Schulich Leader scholarship winner

Born to an immigrant family from Romania, Gherman is from Scarborough where she attended Mary Ward Catholic Secondary, one of only a handful of self-directed learning schools in Canada, where she took a leadership role at the coding club. She is a contributor for an award-winning arts-and-science Romanian-language newspaper, where she has written about advice for parents and encouraging girls to consider STEM career paths. A self-described introvert, Gherman has embraced her quiet leadership style and says teachers describe her as being someone who does not always speak up, but when she does everyone listens.

Similar to Clapperton, Grade 7 was an influential year for her, when her mom took her to the bookstore and let her choose any book she liked. She picked Learn Python 3 The Hard Way, and while she has also studied robotics and other STEM fields, examining the code in there set her on the path she is on now and sees as a lifelong one. Being familiar with York University through her years of track and field, it was at York that she won her first race and feels the program is a good fit for her ambitions.

“I’m not someone who likes cutthroat competition. I appreciate drive and collaboration for the greater good and I believe that this program will give me those opportunities. I’m grateful that this scholarship will allow me to focus on my studies without taking on a large debt burden.”

Gherman has a strong interest in cybersecurity and hopes to one day found a company related to quantum computing and AI. “We are proud to celebrate the continued success of Schulich Leader Scholarships, the premiere STEM scholarship program in Canada. This group of 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,” says program founder Mr. Schulich.