St. Stephen – Rylan Cloney, a Grade 12 student at St. Stephen High School (SSHS), plans to head off to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia this fall, and he will not have to worry about having any debt when he graduates from the engineering program. Cloney has applied for numerous scholarships, bursaries, and grants, and although he hasn’t heard back from most of them yet, he was recently informed he is a recipient of the Schulich Leadership Scholarship – to the tune of $100,000.
The Schulich Leadership Scholarship is awarded to 100 students who are going to enroll in a science, engineering, technology, or math program at one of 20 universities in Canada. Students who are interested in receiving this scholarship must apply to their school, and then the school nominates the student they think is most deserving of the award. Upon being nominated, the students must submit applications, along with an essay demonstrating why they should be a recipient.
Cloney said the scholarship comes from the Schulich Leadership Scholarship organization, and it is based on how many students are attending the universities. He said the universities ultimately choose the recipients.
“Another criteria for the scholarship is you have to be enrolling in either science, technology, engineering, or math. Dalhousie had offered me the $100,000 to enroll in their engineering program. I’ll be going into engineering, and after two years I’ll be specializing in mechanical engineering.”
Cloney said SSHS guidance counsellor Tricia Calder nominated him for the award, and he couldn’t be more thrilled he received it and will be able to study engineering without having to worry about coming out of university with a huge debt load.
“It’s pretty much for kids with an entrepreneurial mindset who have the grades, leadership, and financial needs,” said Cloney. “The whole idea behind the scholarship is that it’s allowing kids who think they will be future leaders in the community. It’s allowing them to not worry about financial stress and just allowing them to get involved in the community and chase after the things they want to do and not be held back by financial stress.”
There are other criteria involved for the awarding of this scholarship. For instance, Cloney said applicants must show they have participated in activities outside of the school. In addition to playing high school soccer and being the captain of the SSHS team, Cloney also plays AAA soccer in Saint John, and has spent the last two summers volunteering as a coach for kids 10 and under. He was involved in trying to start a robotics club at the high school, and he was a member of the school’s leadership club.
“I’ve been involved mainly in soccer in the community because that’s what I’ve been involved most in, but I’ve done a couple of other things for other interests. I was trying to show them what the things I was doing outside of the school to show that I was a leader in the community. I was doing things outside of just focusing on my school work.”
Cloney said he has applied for other grants and scholarships, but he has yet to hear about any of these. He put the bulk of his energy into applying for the Schulich Leadership Scholarship, preparing for about two months before even sending in the application.
Ideally, Cloney will be beginning his university career in September. With the current pandemic crisis, it is not guaranteed that schools or universities will be opening in the fall, but it is the hope of all students and teachers life will regain a semblance of normality so they can continue with their studies.
“Right now, all we know is what the deal is with high school,” said Cloney. “Right now, we’re doing school online. There are major courses, like physics and calculus, so I’ll have some background when I go to university. We have no idea about the approach for what universities are doing. That information isn’t released yet. The plan is to start in September, based on what the universities are saying, but we can’t be too certain at this time.”
The love of engineering runs in Cloney’s family, who said he has an uncle who is a civil engineer and another uncle who is a power engineer. Cloney said he has had a lifelong passion for building things and taking them apart, and seeing how things worked. When he was around 10-years-old, he received a robotics kit, and “fell in love with it”.
“That was what I played with for a really long time,” said Cloney. “I just really enjoyed seeing how things worked, seeing how to build things, seeing how things function, especially on the mechanical side. When I got into high school, me and Mr. Scott Legge started writing grants to try and find robotics kits so I could build a robot to compete in a school competition. Obviously, that got shut down because of the virus.”
Cloney said he would like to thank his family, Scott Legge, Tricia Calder, and Krista White for their help in making this scholarship happen for him. He said Legge and White wrote the reference letters, which he is sure played a big part in the selection process.
“I’d like to thank everyone on the school staff who helped me get here, because everyone played a part in this.”
Does Cloney have any advice for other students who will require financial aid in order to attend university? Cloney said he definitely thinks students should apply for as many forms of financial aid as possible. Not only will winning scholarships and bursaries help to offset the costs of attending university, the application process is also great experience that can be a help in the future.
“By applying for grants and scholarships, you get a better understanding of what people are looking for,” said Cloney. “By writing the scholarships, it definitely helped me understand how to apply for grants, bursaries, and other fundraising opportunities that I’m sure will probably help me in the future too.”