There have to be one thing within the water at Cathedral Excessive Faculty.
Three of its college students previously six years have graduated with a Schulich Chief Scholarship, one of many nation’s most prestigious awards for younger lecturers coming into science, expertise, engineering and math (STEM) college packages.
The newest? Becca Barbera — a whiz-kid one instructor mentioned “you wait your whole profession to have at school.”
The annual race for a Schulich nod, now in its eleventh yr, sees 1,500 college students from completely different excessive faculties nationwide vie for simply 100 out there scholarships from 20 universities.
To be supplied one is to say you’re among the many most coveted first-year STEM college students within the nation. To be supplied two or extra is to say you’re the crème de la crème.
And Barbera suits within the latter class.
The teenager was supplied a pair of $100,000 scholarships from McMaster College and the College of New Brunswick — sufficient to cowl 4 years of tuition after which some. She picked the previous due to its proximity to house and the college’s world-renowned repute for engineering analysis.
“I’m nonetheless in a state of disbelief,” mentioned a humbled Barbera, who was in French immersion at Cathedral. “I really feel like it is a time in my life that I’ll look again on and say, ‘That’s when every thing modified.’”
A life changer certainly — however one which comes with out a lot shock.
Barbera was described by academics in interviews with The Spec as a dream pupil, whip-smart and mature, boasting an unrelenting work ethic and a palpable thirst for data.
“Becca is the kind of pupil that almost all academics wait their whole careers to have at school,” mentioned longtime instructor Man Larocque. “What she has achieved earlier than highschool is extraordinarily uncommon … She will certainly set the world on fireplace.”
Over 4 years at Cathedral, Barbera posted a near-perfect 99.6 per cent common, balancing three co-op placements — together with one at Mac’s physics engineering division — with superior math and sciences programs.
She additionally had a paper on molecular dynamics and bioinformatics (nuclear power) printed in an acclaimed, peer-reviewed Japanese journal; picked up greater than a dozen awards in regional and nationwide science festivals; completed as a finalist within the chemistry class on the Worldwide Science and Engineering Truthful (aptly dubbed the Science Truthful Olympics); based a non-profit weblog sharing tales of seniors in Hamilton; mentored Grade 9 college students at her faculty; and gathered greater than 700 Christian service hours.
In addition to the Schulich scholarship, McMaster additionally gave Barbera 4 entrance engineering and analysis awards totalling $27,000.
“It’s outstanding, that sort of work ethic and duty and motivation she has,” mentioned Marzia Occhionorelli, who taught Barbera chemistry for 3 years.
“I’ve but to see a pupil like her. She’s only a celebrity.”
Barbera is the third Cathedral pupil in six years to win a Schulich Leaders Scholarship, a feats its principal referred to as an amazing honour.
“Nothing within the water, simply nice children and nice employees,” mentioned principal Mark Daly, whose son was the primary Cathedral pupil to win the award in 2016.
“I don’t assume there’s too many colleges who can say they’ve had three Schulich winners in that point.”
David Goodman, vice-president of the Schulich Basis, mentioned there was instances of repeat highschool winners, however “it’s not completely frequent.”
“It actually speaks to the standard of schooling at these establishments who’re producing nice graduates.”
He famous Hamilton faculties have loved constant success. Azlan Naeem, a graduating pupil at St. Thomas Extra Catholic Secondary Faculty, acquired an $80,000 science scholarship from the College of Toronto this yr — the catholic board’s second winner in 2022. A pair of Ancaster Excessive Faculty graduates additionally received a Schulich award every in 2021.
For Barbera, the credit score to her and Cathedral’s success boils down to 1 factor: academics.
“My academics had been unimaginable,” she mentioned. “The entire accomplishments that led me to win this had been inspired by them. I had the most effective of the most effective within the metropolis.”