It’s been a tough semester for graduating high school students. No in-school classes, no prom, no grad – and not much focus on the achievements and triumphs of students who worked hard to excel.
Students like Corbin Bowering, a Grade 12 student at Nantyr Shores Secondary School in Innisfil, one of only two students in the Simcoe County District School Board to earn a prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship.
The scholarship is worth a whopping $100,000 over four years of post-secondary studies.
Bowering took a gruelling selection of advanced and university-level courses in math, chemistry and physics in his final year of high school, maintaining a 90 per cent average.
On May 20, his hard work paid off. Bowering learned that he was a recipient of the Schulich Leader Scholarship.
Only 100 of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) scholarships are handed out each year to “entrepreneurial-minded” high school graduates across Canada, who want to go on to pursue their STEM studies at the post-secondary level.
This year, there were 1,500 nominees, one from each Canadian high school.
The winners included Rabab Azeem, from Barrie North Collegiate Institute, and Corbin Bowering from Nantyr.
Two universities picked up Bowering’s nomination. He was first contacted and offered the scholarship by the University of Saskatchewan; days later, he received a call from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
After consideration, he decided to accept Dalhousie’s offer, and plans to study mechanical engineering.
“It took me a while to pick mechanical engineering. The main thing is, it’s a broader field of engineering,” Corbin said, offering opportunities that range “from working on spaceships, to thermodynamics.”
While he has always had an affinity for math and the sciences, Bowering credits the invitation in Grade 11 to take the hands-on ‘research and development’ class of teacher Duncan Taylor with ultimately steering him to his career choice.
By the end of the class, “I knew I wanted to go into engineering,” he said.
“His strength has always been the math and the physics,” said his mom, Leslie.
As an elementary school student at Birchview Dunes in Wasaga Beach, “he was always winning the Gauss math contests – grades 5 through 8," she added.
The decision to enter engineering meant a tough first semester in Grade 12. Bowering had to ensure that he had all the prerequisites needed for university. He focused on all math and sciences – “Grade 11 chemistry, advanced functions, advanced placement physics, all in one semester,” he said.
Corbin not only met the challenge, managed to maintain a 90 per cent average even while continuing to play baseball at the elite level with the Barrie Baycats, until this January, and working at the Nike Factory Store at Tanger Outlet Mall.
It was his “amazing ability to balance his academics” with his other interests that most impressed Nantyr Shores guidance counsellor Jennie Shaw, who chose Bowering as Nantyr’s nominee for the Schulich scholarship.
“He will be amongst the great leaders and influencers,” Shaw predicted. “Corbin is a genuine and sincere young person who aspires to make change through his innovative perspective and ideas.”
Calling him “a force to be reckoned with,” Shaw said, “I have no doubt he will continue to succeed. Nantyr Shores is so fortunate to have had a student like him over the last four years… We are looking forward to hearing more about his accomplishments, and wish him nothing but the best.”
Corbin’s achievements still bemuse his family.
“I don’t know where this kid came from,” said Leslie. “We’re not university people.”
Community college is probably as far as most family members have gone, she said – yet Corbin is now set to begin his university studies with one of Canada’s most prestigious scholarships paying the way.
“We’re just beyond words,” she said.
COVID-19 has thrown one final curve ball at the aspiring engineer and athlete. Due to the ongoing pandemic, his first term at Dalhousie will be “100 per cent on line,” Corbin noted. The campus may reopen for the winter, “but it’s not sure.”
Even so, despite the pandemic, the challenges, and the delay in heading out to Nova Scotia, “It’s pretty exciting,” he admitted.