SLxONTARIO: Connect & Inspire

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Yesterday was the first-ever SLxOntario, a well-organized event in Toronto for all of Ontario’s Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients.

From the University of Waterloo, the eight other Schulich Leaders and I ZipCar-ed to downtown Toronto, where we admired the beautiful old buildings and lovely greenery. We arrived at the MaRS Discovery Centre first.

Emma (physics and astronomy), Mackenzie (biomedical engineering), me (kinesiology!) and Maddy (biomedical sciences). It took us a while to find parking spot #65 in a massive parking “circle” with random parking spot numbers, but we made it just in time.

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The food was prepared and networking was taking place! I liked the salad, sandwiches, and wraps. There were also great cookies from Phipps Bakery and two Basque-style cheesecakes courtesy of Bar Raval. Everyone raved about the cheesecake and I wish I had photos of it for you!

Everything had been beautifully designed.

The event was emceed by Ben, Joan, and Flora, who were not only naturally gifted speakers, but also came extremely well-prepared.

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There were a number of other speakers who took the stage, each of them detailing on an initiative or leadership experience they’d had. Here are some of the incredible Schulich Leaders who stepped up to perform a 3-5 minute talk.

Emma Mogus talked about how she co-founded Books with No Bounds, an international organization that provides books to indigenous children. She now ships books all around the world – and developed a tongue-operated computer mouse that gives ALS patients the opportunity to control a computer.

Sherry Wong, who is now also the face of the Schulich Leader’s Twitter page, organized Young Scholar, a website, seminar, and scholarship that gives high school students the ins-and-outs of university scholarship applications. Oh yeah, and we had brunch together once! She also has a lifestyle Youtube channel called A Brush of Beauty.

Sabrina Cruz, a Youtuber, spoke about using her love of art to design business cards for charity. Her videos are hilarious and thought-provoking, and was a brilliant speaker.

Jordan Banks, the CEO of Facebook Canada and former managing director of eBay Canada, was also here to give us a motivational speech about planning for the future.

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We had a networking session afterwards, where everyone moved to a specific table based on our STEM (science/tech/engineering/math) disciplines. I was assigned to Table 8, for Behavioural Sciences, where I spoke to a couple students in Psychology and Linguistics. We decided that Table 8 was essentially “the homeless Science”. 😉

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Afterwards, I got to meet some amazing Schulich Leaders. This is Joan Romero, who not only played a major role in organizing this event, but is also one of the most ambitious people I’ve ever met. Joan is now finishing up his last year of Pathobiology at the University of Toronto and is applying to start medical school next September. I’m glad I got some pics with him because I have a feeling everyone will know his name and face in 40, 30, or even 20 years when he plays a key role in cancer research.

Lots of selfies were taken! Here I am with Sabrina and Kyne Santos, who is actually studying Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. If you want to be completely blown away by serious makeup skills, check out his channel OnlineKyne. It always amazes me how much high-schoolers can do with a little time management and a lot of passion.

Reunited with SHERRY! Who wore the coolest heeled boots ever.

We later migrated to Hart House, where there were lots more drinks and nice food – appetizers like spanakopita, cheese and crackers, the best freaking crab cakes I’ve ever eaten, pound cake, sushi rolls, and chicken quesadilla bites. This is Alex, who I chatted with about cooking, fourth-year life, and orientation week.

Maddy! Last year, we went to Niagara Falls and a bird world together, saw Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver when she came to visit, and watched Finding Dory together (well, I fell asleep during the last part). Now we live just across the street from each other! 🙂

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It was so amazing to meet everyone!

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[Most] of the SLs from the University of Waterloo in these pics! Can’t wait to expand our network in the next couple of years.

Then, it was already 7:00 and time to head back to Waterloo. We split up, hopped into the ZipCars, and drove back home – chatting the whole time about everything from cars to co-op to cadavers. It was neat to get to know people from provinces all across Canada. In this car, we’ve got two BCers, a Newfoundlander, and someone from PEI and Alberta. It’s crazy how many differences you can find in just one country… like the fact that in PEI and Alberta, you don’t need a license plate in the front of your car! What?!

I came home feeling like I’d just met countless celebrities and was so overwhelmed by the amazing-ness of all these inspiring people. By the time I got back into my room, my desk was a mess and I had assignments to do… but instead I went to bed!

Massive thank you to Julia Won, a new friend from the University of Toronto, for some of her photos! She was much more diligent about taking pics than I was. 🙂 Thanks Julia!

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