Jennifer Careen thought her application for the Schulich Leader scholarship was a long shot.
The Grade 12 student at St. Kevin’s knew she had good grades and plenty of extra-curricular activities — including Junior Achievement and her school’s fundraising group, the Maverick Motivators — but still figured the $80,000 engineering scholarship was beyond her.
Earlier this week, when she found out she’d won — she’ll get $20,000 a year for the first four years of her five-year mechanical engineering study at Memorial University — she started crying.
“My mom came in to the school, because she opened it at the post office, and then she was freaking out,” says Careen.
“She came into the school and they paged me down. I heard my mom in the office and thought, ‘Oh my God, what is this about?’ I went in and she showed me the letter, and my guidance counsellor and principal were there, because they helped a lot with it. … It really came as a shocker.”
Careen had been intending to pay for her schooling through work placements.
“You have to do four work terms at least, but I was planning to do six, and I was going to pay it with that,” she said.
“Now, all the money from my work terms is mine, which is pretty cool.”
Careen says she was inspired to pursue engineering as a career last year when she attended Energy Day, an event at the Johnson GeoCentre during Oil and Gas Week which showcases careers in the energy industry and introduces students to people in different fields.
“We had three people talk to us in the small room that they have in there … and I didn’t even know what engineering was at this point,” said Careen.
“I looked into it more, and there was a couple of websites that they gave us and I looked at those. … It seemed so interesting to me.”
Careen applied for a Women In Science and Engineering program, which helped her make up her mind.
“I love science and math, and I wanted to go somewhere with those. I think engineering is the best route.”