A local high school student is $100,000 richer after earning a scholarship that will see her follow her engineering dreams.
Rabab Azeem, from Barrie North Collegiate Institute, will be attending Queen’s University to study engineering. She was recently awarded a Schulich Leader Scholarship, which recognizes entrepreneurial-minded high school graduates from across Canada who are enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) program.
“I’m a really curious person, and I love learning more. STEM is a perfect field for people who want to learn and make something,” Azeem told BarrieToday.
The 18-year-old Barrie North student might be a familiar face to anyone who frequents the Barrie Public Library, or Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.
Azeem volunteers as a member of the teen advisory board at the library, also working there managing the library’s virtual reality system for kids that want to test it out.
“I would also teach kids who would drop by how to code, or 3D print,” she said. “I did a lot of LEGO Robotics to start, and I helped with more crafting programs. Eventually, I got a job there as a tinker tech.”
When Azeem was in middle school, she remembers one of her first forays into technology was when her teacher brought in a Raspberry Pi.
A Raspberry Pi is a small single-board computer that is easily customizable, making it ideal for building robots and automated systems.
“That’s what really drew me in at first,” she said.
Azeem also spends time at RVH as a Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) volunteer.
“You talk to elderly patients to help prevent them from getting confused or disoriented,” she said. “I’d always wanted to volunteer at a hospital to see what the environment was like and if it would suit me. It turned out to be really interesting and fun.
"These people have really interesting stories.”
This year, entrance scholarships are being awarded to 100 high school graduates enrolling in a STEM undergraduate program at one of 20 partner universities in Canada.
Azeem was one of about 100 students chosen nationally from among about 1,500 nominees for the scholarship.
“I got an email from Queen's. At first, I was a little confused. I had already been accepted. I was so surprised and I wanted to share it with my family,” she said.
Azeem attributes her success to her teachers, parents and family.
Down the road, Azeem wants to continue work in the computer engineering and science field, hopefully working with artificial intelligence.
“I’m also really passionate about human rights issues and the environment, so I’d like to maybe start a business that helps with that using my knowledge,” she said. “I’m really interested in automating things using machine learning.”
“I also really enjoy building robots, so hopefully I can do that, too,” she said with a laugh.