Bus.com is proud to announce the winner of their 2019 STEM Scholarship. Kristina Bailey, of Barrie, Ontario, will be awarded $5,000 to facilitate her upcoming academic pursuit in STEM studies beginning in the fall 2019 semester.
Bailey’s application exceeded all required scholarly criteria and impressed the Bus.com panel with her demonstrated lifelong passion for astrophysics. Her unique and heartfelt essay displayed the exact qualities of dedication and excitement towards her bright future in sciences that made her the ideal candidate for this scholarship.
I awoke, startled, blowing water out of my nostrils. I smacked my head as I tried to sit up, rubbing my forehead furiously. Who designed these deep sleep pods to stay closed after they woke you up, I asked myself? As I waited for the pod to open, the sound of an alarm reached my ears, accentuating the headache created by the lid of the pod. I lifted myself out, joints aching from months of disuse. Are we already reaching the galactic cluster, I wondered? Deep sleep had the annoying quality of bending one’s sense of the passage of time.
When I sat down at the computer and read over the error messages, I saw why the computer had woken only me up, rather than other crew of the ship. Our vessel was dangerously low on ionized hydrogen. As the resident material scientist, the computer was registering an error with the hydrogen capture system, of which I was an expert in. From what I could discern, there was something wrong with the material used to trap the hydrogen, but that was as much as the computer could tell me. At that point, I was still calm; I had dealt with worse. It wasn’t until I pulled up my pad and started running some calculations that stood my hair on end and ran chills down my spine. We only have two days of hydrogen left, I realized. I could feel my heart rate rising, and cold fear flooding my veins. If I couldn’t fix this, within a week our blood would boil as our life support systems failed, millions of light years away from Earth, in intergalactic space.
As I looked out the window, I saw the name of our ship, the SS Kazue. The ship was named after my great-great-grandmother, Kazue Orikasa, who had helped build the first hydrogen fusion devices back on Earth. My heart rate came down when I remembered what she told before she kissed my forehead when I left for this mission. “Remember little one, all problems are soluble, all you need is the right knowledge”. I rubbed my eyes, wondering if I should wake the captain. It was dangerous to wake someone from deep sleep, and she would only get in my way. Time was of the essence, so I sat down and started working. Billions of problems had been solved to get me to this point in the universe, I just have to solve this next one to keep me and the ship crew alive.
And so, my great-great-grandmother was right, all problems are soluble. It turned out we had passed through a band of gamma radiation blasted out of a quasar a few million light years away. It had damaged the material essential for hydrogen capture, rendering it nearly useless. Without hydrogen, the ship was unable to transmute the lighter element into the heavier elements needed to maintain life. As I used the fabricator aboard the ship to synthesize a new hydrogen capture material resistant to radiation, I set my sleep pod to wake me in two years, once we had entered our target galactic cluster.
The above story is how I (I now being me, the current Kazue Orikasa, scholarship applicant and future ancestor of a long line of engineers) imagine one of the many possible futures for humankind. This may seem far-fetched now, however, as David Deustch (physicist, inventor of quantum computing, and author of The Beginning of Infinity) would say, it obeys the laws of physics and is therefore possible. This simple idea drives my excitement for Material Science Engineering. Each new problem we solve creates new challenges, driving innovation. Knowledge creation can proliferate, unchecked, forever. We are and always will be at the beginning of infinity.
Lego. It all started with Lego – those ridiculous little blocks that hurt when you step on them in the dark. That is where my love and interest in engineering started. I was fascinated by the intricacies of the sets. How someone sat down and figured out the exact placement for each individual piece so every single one works together and, with a little patience, the next thing you know you have a 5000 piece replica of the Millennium Falcon. I would spend days putting sets together, but as my fascination continued I began to build my own masterpieces. How different is engineering really? Just a little more math and instead of plastic bricks and then suddenly you have the entire world to play with.
I approach my studies in a similar fashion. It really seems to me that each class is a Lego set where it’s all about understanding the interactions of all the pieces. One cannot fully understand the intricacies of something like physics or math without going through many possible questions, practicing over and over again to understand their outcome, and then branching out and creating your own formulae and designs. It’s really all about commitment. I commit. I truly believe that anyone can be successful; you just need to commit yourself to the work, and be patient. I love physics and math for that reason. As you begin to understand the problem, the world opens up and you can see it’s innermost workings and, as a result, you begin to view the world around you differently.
Besides my academic strength, I am heavily involved in all aspects of the Arts (Band, Jazz Band, Musical Theatre, Drama and Dance). Being in the arts has really prepared me for Engineering. They have taught me how to persevere when things become challenging and to never give up. To try new things that might scare me because I know it will work out in the end. Through countless hours of practicing and rehearsals I have become accustomed to doing an activity over and over again, repeating the exact same task multiple times in order to achieve perfection. It has also taught me that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence. Everyone needs help occasionally and looking on your team to support you is the best thing to do in times of crisis.
Ultimately, I must be on to something, as I have been named this year’s Governor General’s winner which recognizes the top academic student average combining all of their grade 11 and 12 marks. I commit.
I honestly cannot wait to become an Engineer! There is so much to understand… So much to learn and somehow it is all artistic and creative. Although I am still unsure of my future, I am very excited to begin university in hopes that one day I’ll be able to take my creativity and metaphorically create my own Lego sets for the world to enjoy.
For as long as I could remember, I have adored building things. Whenever my family would buy Ikea furniture, I would beg to lend a hand in building the pieces, sometimes even taking over the project altogether. I knew I had to take courses related to it to continue my passion. At first, I was intimidated by the lack of females in the class (there were 5 girls in metal work and 2 girls in carpentry out of a class nearing 30). I eventually became one of the top students in both classes. It serves as a great accomplishment to hold various woodworking and metalworking projects and confidently state that I made them from scratch with minimal help. It also gives an amazing sense of pride progressing in a project, fitting the pieces together, and inching closer to the final product. I cannot describe any other emotion like it.
Perhaps the prejudices of the world fueled my passion for these. Though never having been explicitly stated, I had always known this passion was not commonly associated with females. It was early on when I would shock others with my Ikea furniture-building skills which only motivated me to continue to surprise and defy all their expectations. Now, instead of dragging my unwilling brother to aid in the construction and fixing of house-hold equipment, my father asks for my help instead.
One downside of such prejudice is the stubborn attitude it provides to work independently, at times unrealistically. It somehow suggests asking for aid as a sign of weakness and limited skills, especially given I am not as strong as others. I have been met with condescending chuckles when asking for help on a task only done successfully by brute strength. At times, simple acts like these shatters my confidence. Then I remind myself that I may not have the most strength, but the countless structures I have built are based on a wide range of other skills I possess. These few and largely impactful courses have taught me to be proud and confident in myself, that requesting aid is not a weakness, and to attempt to defy all expectations as often as I can.
I have chosen to pursue engineering because of these. Perhaps spite guided me into engineering as it is a male-dominated field, but it was the passion of the topics involved that pushed me to enter the field. It was the curiosity of how the science and math of simple structures allow it to become useful and successful. It was the drive to create structures and devices to help society and the world.
In my Grade 11 year, I joined my school’s first-year FIRST Robotics team. I was one of the only two girls in the male-dominated team, but I persisted as an active member despite the initial intimidation. It was exhilarating to craft a robot from concept to reality. I loved working in a collaborative environment. It was extremely rewarding to put in the work to create, from scratch, a robot worthy of competing against world-class teams. A major role I took on was programming the robot in Java. I had never used Java before, but I enjoyed the challenge and soon realized I wanted to pursue a STEM career – something I had not previously considered. Competing with our robot at different universities was an amazing experience where I learned so much from other experienced teams. I was extremely proud of what we accomplished for our first time participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition, especially without a mentor with any robotics-related experience. In Grade 12, I was very keen on qualifying for Provincials. We worked harder, and armed with our knowledge from the previous year, we achieved our goal! It was a very happy and fulfilling moment for our team and for me personally.
In Grade 11, I also participated in the Technovation Challenge. Technovation is an app competition where teams design and pitch a prototype app to solve a community problem. Inspired by the protests staged by students in the United States to show support for gun control, I wanted to empower teenagers in my community to make their voices heard by creating a platform where they could easily interact with politicians. My engagement in my constituency’s Youth Council when I was in Grade 10, where I was able to interact with my local Member of Parliament, also added to my passion for this project. I took the initiative to assemble a team for the competition, and we worked diligently for months. Winning a bronze medal at the Technovation Toronto Live Pitch Event was a dream come true! After the competition ended, I wanted to make the innovative app idea a reality. Despite my team members being unable to continue working on the project, I decided to undertake the daunting task of completing the complex social media platform. Instead of being dissuaded, I transformed it into a learning experience for myself. I was unable to complete the project, but it was the tipping point in my decision to pursue Software Engineering. I want to learn how to be able to create projects such as my app idea that had the potential to help millions of people! Technovation made me realize the importance of programming in a future filled with technological advancement, and that I wanted to be a part of building this future where technology could be used to better society.
I have been accepted to the University of Waterloo for Software Engineering, and I am very excited to plunge into STEM, doing my bit to “change the world” and help people!
Rocketman by Selena Liu
I have had a lot of influence from family members to join the STEM field, so it was of no surprise to anyone when I decided to apply and accept an offer to study Electrical Engineering at the University of Toronto. However, I can recall one distinct moment where I was truly inspired and at awe at the image before me; the livestream of SpaceXʼs self-steering rockets touching down on their respective landing pads. The video had popped into my recommendations on YouTube and I happened to click on it just as the rockets began their return trip. It evoked a childish excitement that was similar to the feeling you get watching Captain Kirk successfully wiggle his way off an enemy ship; a feat accomplished through a mixture of creativity, skill, and luck.
But that was simply one moment, and it took hundreds more for me to realize the immense variety of opportunities the STEM field encapsulates. I was lucky enough to be a part of Simon Fraser Universityʼs AIforAll – Invent the Future program during the summer after my grade 11 year, where I met twenty other girls my age who had the same stubbornness to study a field previously occupied by men, who felt the same excitement for what reality technology could offer. We learned about the various fields of Artificial Intelligence, met developers at Microsoft and Amazon, and then created and presented our own Machine Learning projects. I created a project called GeoTweet using Python, a visual map showing from where users were tweeting. Each and every person I met became a source of inspiration for me to see what else STEM could offer.
Around the same time, I began learning how to develop iOS apps using Swift, which began as a persuasive suggestion from my older brother, to my primary playground for personal projects. My first app was NWSSDebate, a simple timer for amateur debaters. I was the president of the Debate club at my school, and I wanted to help new members be more conscientious of their timing during their impromptu speeches. At the time, I did not own an iPhone or an iPad, so I had to borrow a friendʼs iPhone to test my app. But when I finally tapped my “Welcome” button on the physical iPhone 6s, I felt that same excitement, that same awe at the fact that something I built worked.
I kept on exploring app development, and soon my parents helped buy me an iPhone. I began building an app for my school called myNDUB, which I later presented to administrators and the school board, gaining over 300 users. I also landed a contract, out of pure luck, with a start-up company in Vancouver to build an app to help train their AI model. I could tell you how my hands shook as I presented my work in front of fifty of my high school teachers, or the beautiful view of downtown Vancouver outside my office window, but this is only the beginning, and these experiences serve not only as my inspiration, but motivation to do so much more. Just as those rockets were the stepping stone to outer space exploration, these experiences simply push me to continue learning, creating, and collaborating through STEM, where I believe I can truly make a difference in the world.
Why I Want To Be An Engineer by Clara Mitchinson
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by puzzles. I use that word very loosely here, because for me, almost everything is a puzzle: a problem I can solve if I put enough time into figuring it out. I remember sitting on a plane when I was 10 years old and hating it so much that I spent a good part of the trip trying to design an airplane I’d actually enjoy being on (unaware that more comfortable and more expensive airplanes already existed). If you look at any bookshelf in my house, there’s a good chance you’ll find at least one logic puzzle book, probably half-completed already. I even consider most of my hobbies to be puzzles, like figuring out the most efficient way to practice a certain passage on the piano.
When my dad’s friend introduced engineering to me as a field focused on problem-solving, it quickly caught my interest. The more research I did – talking to engineers, reading about possible university programs, and so on – the more I realized that this was the field that would both satisfy my curiosity about the world and make good use of my mindset of approaching every situation as if it were a puzzle.
An important experience for me was SHAD, a month-long summer program focused on developing leadership in STEAM fields. The main focus of the program was the design project, in which we were given a general problem (in this case, improving resilience in the face of natural disasters) and then designed a specific solution in smaller groups.
It was challenging, but I came out of the experience with many useful skills. Before beginning the project, our group talked about our preferred work habits, such as how often we needed to take breaks in order to remain focused. Communication and collaboration are extremely important skills to have as an engineer, as there is no way to work on projects alone, and SHAD helped me understand the best way to work with others. Although I considered myself a good problem-solver before SHAD, I was taught several brainstorming strategies during the group design project that greatly improved my ability to think of creative solutions to problems. Finally, the design project was essentially a low-stakes version of an actual engineering project, including not only brainstorming but also prototyping, presenting, and ultimately seeing a project through to its end. Now that I’ve experienced this, I’m better able to manage my time and stick with my ideas for longer (like the chemical reaction predictor I’ve been programming since last year).
Most importantly, SHAD was one of the best months of my life. Getting the chance to hear about and even experience some of the things that engineers can do – from creating unique art installations to bringing Star Trek-esque technology to life – only made me more confident that engineering is the right field for me. With the skills I’ve developed, I’m sure that I’ll be ready for whatever new puzzles the future brings.
It’s hard to live your life to the fullest when you feel that your life is a rental, but I intend to earn my life, by helping those in need. My birth and life are one of complicated circumstances, this complication is evident in my mother’s situation revolving my birth, my development, and how it has shaped me.
My mother ran into a few complications that made my birth an unlikely one. My mother had uterine cancer a few years prior to my birth, with the surgery removing a large portion of her uterus, resulting in her chances of carrying a baby full-term to very low odds. My mother was also using birth control, as instructed to do so, as there was essentially no point in conceiving a baby that could not come full term. In the same stride, my mother used recreational marijuana, smoked cigarettes, and drank alcohol. This combination made my birth very unlikely, and the ability to have a baby with no disabilities very low odds. However, with the help of doctors and nurses, my mother was able to carry me full term, which was a very unlikely event, and was considered very lucky.
My development has been a bit of a rocky road. I was born with femoral retroversion, the twisting of my femur bones to a state in which they are turned outwards from my pelvis. This resulted in a large amount of pain for me, especially with growing pains, which there was no shortage of growing when you’re over six foot! Eventually the pain stopped, as my body both became used to it, and my body stopped growing, which I am very thankful for. However, in terms of development I am very lucky intellectually, I manage to achieve a 4.0 GPA in my high school career, and have already been awarded the Hollister Science and Technology Endowment Entrance Scholarship by the University of the Fraser Valley.
My life has been shaped by both my development, and my birth complications. I wish to pursue a career as a General Practitioner, and to do so I will major in Biology first at UFV. My involvement with doctors throughout my life has made me want to help others the way those doctors have helped me. I do not view my life as mine, not until I can do something for others, to pass on the gift of life in a way. I have already been volunteering at the Mission Hospice Society in the Mission Memorial Hospital to start myself on this path through my life. I will continue to push on, and fight for the things I want, because if I can’t help others, then I cannot truly feel that the life I lead is mine.
The life I have been blessed with is the reason I want to pursue a career in a STEM related field. My life has been mapped with struggles and obstacles to overcome, but the STEM field has supported me throughout my entire life, and I feel I owe it to the world to help others, and to give back to the communities that have helped me become the person I am today, and the person that I will be in the future.
I Can be an Astrophysicist by Kristina Bailey
It was a warm summer night, maybe a week after my seventeenth birthday. The sun had already set and my brother and I had set my birthday present up on the back porch. It was the perfect night. No clouds to be seen. It would be the night that would affect the rest of my life when I would look through that lens for the very first time.
It had taken quite a while to get to the store and we were almost too late. The traffic that day had been terrible, but we made it just in time. The salesman was very kind and knowledgeable on the subject of our interest and he sold us right away. I knew I was not going to be able to view everything I wanted, but it was a start, and that was all I needed.
We brought it home that night and I could not stop the excitement in my heart the whole drive home. My dreams were finally becoming a reality. We built the mount immediately and took the hulking thing outside and searched. What should we look at first? What could we see? I pointed to the brightest thing in the sky at that time. I thought it was a mere star. We focused that beautiful Dobsonian on that little “star” and I approached the lens. When I realized what I was actually seeing, I was in absolute awe.
That celestial body was no star. It was Jupiter. I was viewing Jupiter not from a picture but real life. I could not believe it. I was overtaken with emotion. I yelled to my brother even though he was right beside me to take a look. It was still small but I could see the different shades, the big red spot. It was so beautiful I could not pull my eyes away. My whole life I had been robbed of the beauty of the universe. Now I was seeing it for myself for the very first time and that moment is probably the most sacred to me. I will never forget the impenetrable joy that coursed through my veins. It was as though time had stopped, and it was only the universe and me. At that point, we were one and the same. I was the universe, and the universe was me.
Carl Sagan often tells us that the four main chemically active ingredients in the universe are the exact same four main ingredients in us. Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. He says that we are star stuff and at that moment when I viewed that storm-ridden planet, I embraced that knowledge with my whole being. The planets are my brothers and sisters. The galaxies and nebulae are my ancestors. I live within the universe and the universe lives within me. And I will honour them by studying them, by travelling the farthest humankind can to understand to universe better and by teaching others what Chris Hadfield, Roberta Bondar, Julie Payette and many others have taught me.
I need to study the stars. I need to be one amongst the cosmos. I dream of being one of the few to travel the farthest, discover the unknown, and perhaps become interstellar. I need to unveil some of the vast unknown’s secrets. I have an insatiable hunger to discover the cosmos. I had always been curious but when I looked through that lens, my future was locked on one thing and one thing only. Astronomy, astrophysics and aerospace are where I belong. I know it with all of my heart that is where I will find myself happiest. I dream of the exhilaration, the danger, the complicated inner workings of a spacecraft. Every day will bring a new problem and a new question, but that is what makes the field so completely mesmerizing. I can hear the countdown, it is calling to me. I just need the opportunities and with my determination and passion, I will become an astrophysicist.
I joined Coding Club to meet like-minded people, building teamwork and attending contests. I took a myriad of coding classes, loving every one of them. Although my passion changed route a bit – I went from wanting to be a hacker, a software engineer, a data scientist, a video game developer, to a hacker again – I remained persistent and tested out every idea I had. When I wanted to be a software engineer, I learnt as many programming languages as I could: Java, HTML, CSS, and C#. I often felt stuck.
Sometimes I was in tears of frustration at the ever-so-difficult projects. The hardship I endured when, say, I built my first website, only empowered me to never give up. When I wanted to be a Data Scientist, some things would bore me to the point of wanting to surrender to the computer, but I made sure to test the idea entirely in order to avoid missing a great opportunity. When I wanted to be a video game developer, I built a platformer in pygame. It was a lengthy and strenuous process. There were moments when no amount of frantic googling solved the problem. Despite all the chances I had to give up, I chose to persist. And I am so glad I did, because the end result was absolutely beautiful.
Now, I want to be an ethical hacker working in the cyber security field. I’m currently taking a website hacking course online and am looking into a social engineering course. All this has inspired me to pursue a degree in computer engineering at Ryerson University. I chose to go this route because I am passionate about integrating my knowledge of computer science with computer hardware. I have an unquenched curiosity to learn as much as I can and I constantly seek to increase my technical knowledge. I hope that computer engineering will introduce me to something new that will aid me in developing my passion as well as my career. The future holds infinite possibilities. Perhaps I will deviate from ethical hacking and delve into another field of computer science or engineering.
Regardless, this magnificent and infinitely complex universe of mankind’s technological advancements is where my passion lies. And, ultimately, a Bus.com scholarship will assist in accelerating my career by helping me pay for my university tuition so that I can have the time and resources needed to pursue my passion to the utmost degree. Persistence breeds success, and a Bus.com scholarship will accelerate my success.
I took computer science in Grade 10, which I really enjoyed, but what really sparked my interest in the STEM field was after attending my first hackathon, Sowday in 2017. We, as a group, decided we would create something related to raising awareness on global warming as that was a problem we were all passionate about. We decided to develop an application that allows the user to track their carbon footprint. The idea we envisioned required us using an Arduino, however, none of us were familiar on using this device.
Despite not having any experience on this, we worked really hard to learn how to use an Arduino and connect it with Java for within the 12 hours. After about 8 hours, more than half way through the hackathon, when we did not quite understand, we were about to leave out the Arduino, but we decided that our app would no longer achieve our goal, so after a break, we researched on it some more. And finally, with just a few minutes to spare, we were able to get our application to work. This experience not only taught me how to use an Arduino, something I can incorporate into my future projects, but it also taught me how to keep working hard despite it feeling like the goal me not be achievable.
After university, I would like to continue to develop these types of apps that make a difference in the world, especially for issues I am passionate about, such as taking action against climate change. This scholarship will help me pay for my tuition, in which I can learn the skills necessary to make a difference in this world. The university I would like to go to is known for the STEM field and has the largest Coop, however, it is also quite expensive. By getting this scholarship, it will help me pay for my first year’s tuition, until I can get a coop job for second year and work to achieve my goal of being a software developer. I have been reading a lot of articles about new technologies coming out that are helping to save the environment, such as a 3D printer that reuses plastic waste to create something else. That is something I thrive to do and by attending this university and learning the required fundamental skills, I hope to one day create something on my own.
The top 10 applicants will be announced on the Bus.com website 2 weeks prior to revealing a final winner. The top 10 essays will be featured on this page and will be selected based on the following criteria: GPA and academic qualifications; expressed vivid passion for pursuing a future in the STEM field; substance and quality of written essay. The winner is up to the sole discretion of Bus.com.
– Currently enrolled in an accredited 2-4+ year college/university as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student OR planning to attend an accredited 2-4+ year college/university as a full-time student in the Fall 2019.
– Must provide most recent transcript showing GPA of 3.4 or greater.
– Submit a short essay (approximately 500 words) demonstrating your interest in pursuing a STEM education.
It’s simple! Submit a ~500 word essay explaining either (1) what inspired you to pursue a STEM education, or (2) how the scholarship will help you achieve your near-term STEM education goals.
And don’t forget to detail any unforgettable emotional moments, major accomplishments, or any life skills you think might be relevant in your pursuit of a STEM career.
All submitted content must be completely original. By submitting your content, you also agree to grant Bus.com non-exclusive rights to use or repurpose that content in part or in whole. All entries that meet the requirements below:
Once you have completed your ~500 words personal essay, simply fill out and submit the application form below. Be sure to answer all the required fields, and upload your essay and transcript in a PDF format!