From left: Kurtis Gosnell, Rebecca Clayton, Natalie Chow, Megan Kamphuis, Nia King, Sophia Watts, Alex Carriero, Sarah Kay, U of G president Alastair Summerlee, Brittany Danishevsky, Charley Carriero and Bridget Allen-O’Neil. Photo by Grant Martin
From left: Kurtis Gosnell, Rebecca Clayton, Natalie Chow, Megan Kamphuis, Nia King, Sophia Watts, Alex Carriero, Sarah Kay, U of G president Alastair Summerlee, Brittany Danishevsky, Charley Carriero and Bridget Allen-O’Neil. Photo by Grant Martin

Chancellors’ and President’s Scholarships were presented to 11 first-year students at a luncheon event Aug. 30 at the Arboretum Centre. Hailing from Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, the scholars were chosen to receive U of G’s most prestigious entrance awards because of their high school achievements, leadership abilities and citizenship activities.

A David Mirvish Chancellor’s Scholarship was presented to Toronto native Bridget Allen-O’Neil, a graduate of University of Toronto Schools. The scholarship was established to honour U of G chancellor David Mirvish, Toronto businessman, theatre producer and arts supporter. The award recognizes Allen-O’Neil’s leadership role in activities relating to arts and culture.

A Lincoln Alexander Chancellor’s Scholarship was presented to Natalie Chow, a graduate of St. Robert Catholic High School in Thornhill, Ont. The annual award goes to a student of academic distinction who is aboriginal, has a disability or is a member of a racial minority. Intended to enhance student diversity at U of G, the award is named for the late Lincoln Alexander, who was Guelph’s chancellor for 15 years and a former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

President’s Scholarships were awarded to nine students of academic distinction who possess the skills necessary for student leadership and the ability to enrich the campus environment at Guelph. They are: Alex Carriero and her twin sister, Charley Carriero, graduates of A.N. Myer Secondary School in Niagara Falls, Ont.; Rebecca Clayton, St. Michaels University School in Victoria, B.C.; Brittany Danishevsky, Newtonbrook Secondary School in North York, Ont.; Kurtis Gosnell, Ridgetown District High School in Ridgetown, Ont.; Megan Kamphuis, London South Collegiate Institute in London, Ont.; Sarah Kay, Oakridge Secondary School, also in London; Nia King, Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ottawa; and Sophia Watts, Citadel High School in Halifax, N.S.

The 2013 Chancellors’ and President’s Scholarships are $26,000 each over four years and include the opportunity for a summer research assistantship after the first year of study for an additional $6,000. Recipients are also teamed with a faculty mentor from their chosen discipline.

The scholarship program has recognized about 325 students since the first President’s Scholarships were presented in 1987. The awards are funded primarily through donations from alumni, friends, faculty and staff.

Recipient bios are presented below. Click here to learn more about the history of the University’s undergraduate scholarship program, and here for Chancellors’ and President’s Scholarships application details.

Bridget Allen-O’Neil feels compelled to step in when she sees injustice. She co-founded her high school’s environmental action and captained the Envirothon team, which engages in an intermural competition based on ecological knowledge. She was awarded a City Builder Certificate in 2011 for excellence in a municipal builder challenge competition. Among her other accolades are a UTS Barbara Fonesca Award in English Language and Literature, a Junior Chamber Strings Outstanding Leadership Award and first place in a global Poetry Soup competition. She is also a talented and accomplished violist who played in the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. She is studying environmental management at U of G, and her faculty mentor is Prof. Noella Gray, Department of Geography.

Alex Carriero has set herself apart through her academic accolades, her gifted musical achievements and a passionate pursuit of track and field. She was a member of the school’s yoga club, math club, ski club, booster club and breakfast program – all while maintaining her position as the school’s prime minister and acting as a peer tutor. In the community, she volunteered with the Red Roof Retreat, where she worked with children with special needs. Combined with her musical talent, these activities earned her an Optimist Club Youth Appreciation Award. She has enrolled at U of G in a bachelor of science program in the physical sciences and is being mentored by physics professor Joanne O’Meara.

Charley Carriero has been awarded countless academic excellence awards and was the recipient of the Optimist Youth Award for outstanding contribution to academics and athletics at her school. She was a community volunteer for the Out of the Cold program and the Diabetes Association. She served as a peer tutor and was a member of student council, the math club, ski club and booster club. Somehow she found time to pursue and excel in piano and voice programs. She is enrolled in Guelph’s bachelor of arts and science program; her faculty mentor is Prof. Ann Wilson, School of English and Theatre Studies.

Natalie Chow has a great motto – “Nothing is impossible” – and strives to lead by example. She emigrated from Macau when she was just four years old and has many achievements to her credit. She became a licensed pilot using a hard-earned scholarship through the Air Cadets. While maintaining a high average, she contributed to many school activities. She was an actor and make-up artist for drama productions, a debater in the school’s Model UN program, an event organizer and library volunteer. In the community, she volunteered with St. John Ambulance to lead first-aid classes for children and teens, led air cadets in their training, and coached her peers in public speaking competitions. She is studying animal biology at U of G and is being mentored by Prof. Jason Coe, Department of Population Medicine.

Rebecca “Becca” Clayton seems to believe that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” From leading a team winter camping in the British Columbia interior, to traveling to Kenya with a Free the Children campaign, she left her comfort zone in the dust and worked to make the world a better place. She also helped organize and facilitate a Global Responsibility Young Leaders’ Conference and a high school group called Break the Cycle. Her work in the school’s outdoor leadership program exemplifies her willingness to step into the action and make a change. She is studying international development at U of G; her mentor is Prof. Sally Humphries, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Brittany Danishevsky is already a humanitarian for her creation of a not-for-profit foundation called Chance through Dance; its mission is to help youth heal from trauma through dance. Her method has been integrated into programs run by the City of Toronto, the YMCA, Covenant House and the North York Women’s Shelter. Her passion for youth mental health awareness was expressed to a wider audience when she became Miss Teen Toronto-World. She was also a student ambassador for Kids Help Phone, president of her school’s athletic council and captain and choreographer of the dance team. She is pursuing brain and cognition studies at U of G; her mentor is Prof. Mark Fenske, Department of Psychology.

Kurtis Gosnell made a difference in his rural hometown of Ridgetown, Ont., through his dedication to youth leadership. He volunteered each year at the Lion’s Club community breakfast and was selected to attend the Rotary Club’s leadership conference. At his high school, he was a peer leader, leader of the Student Athletic Association and a member of student council. He frequently organized events at school and in his community through his role as a baseball coach and event coordinator. He is studying biomedical sciences at U of G; his faculty mentor is Prof. Jonathan LaMarre, Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Megan Kamphuis balances her passion for school and community involvement with her love of sports. She was a member of student council, the Student Athletic Association and her school’s social justice committee while also coaching volleyball and refereeing baseball in her community. Her outstanding academic record reflects a passion for science. While completing high school, she worked as a lab assistant in a skeletal biology and embryonic stem cell research lab at Western University. There, she help to design experiments and had the opportunity to co-author a paper. She is studying in U of G’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and is mentored by Prof. Neil McLusky.

Sarah Kay coined the term “motipaction” to sum up what she believes in: motivation, passion and action. She founded the Oakridge Me to We Club and peer tutoring program at her high school. She also worked with developmentally challenged students and volunteered for an Alzheimer’s community outreach program and Habitat for Humanity. She won the prestigious Dr. Norman Bethune Humanitarian Award and was selected as a Canadian representative for the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership in British Columbia. Her faculty mentor for her studies in the Department of Biomedical Sciences is Prof. Tami Martino.

Nia King has proven a solid balance between volunteering, academics and athletics leads to results. She was captain of her school rowing team, which competed in the Ontario Winter Games, and earned the bronze Governor General’s Academic Medal for the highest average among her graduating class. She was also co-chair of Lisgar Collegiate Institute’s Biomedical Club, the Goodwill committee and the Best Buddies program. She is now enrolled in U of G’s bachelor of science program in biomedical science; her faculty mentor is Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president, student affairs.

Sophia Watts is a passionate environmentalist and a committed community member. Her enthusiasm for local food and agriculture inspired her to found the first Citadel Urban Farm Club at her school. She also co-founded the school’s Eco-Club and was a star athlete – a runner who competed at the highest levels across Canada and earned a silver medal in the Canadian Junior Nationals. When not competing with the school’s cross-country team or leading a group through Ready Set Cook, she volunteered for the United Way and taught young children about caring for the environment through the local Mysterious Encounters Earth program. At U of G, she is enrolled in the bachelor of science in agriculture program and is mentored by Prof. Ralph Martin, Department of Plant Agriculture.