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École Allain St-Cyr student wins $120,000 scholarship

A supplied photo of Vincent Gagné. Photo: Mario Roger
Vincent Gagné. Photo: Mario Roger

A Yellowknife Grade 12 student has been awarded a $120,000 scholarship to help him pursue an engineering degree in the fall.

Vincent Gagné says the Schulich Leader Scholarship, which bills itself as one of the “most coveted undergraduate Stem scholarships” in Canada, will cover the cost of everything from tuition and books to housing and food.

“I’m really grateful for receiving it, and I’m proud of my work that I did throughout those years. I’ve worked really hard on it and all my hard work paid off,” he said.

Gagné, who is graduating from École Allain St-Cyr, will be studying mechanical engineering and astronautical engineering in the fall at Polytechnique Montréal, an affiliate of the University of Montréal. His goal is to one day go to space.

First, he’s spending his summer preparing and running summer camps for youth.



“I try to give them my love for science,” he said.

“For example, this summer camp that we planned, we’re going to make a bunch of cool stuff. We’re going to make a trebuchet” – a type of catapult with a long arm – “and we’re going to make some explosions happen.”

He thinks organizing activities like these within Yellowknife’s francophone community helped him get the scholarship, which is only awarded to 100 teens each year.

More than 300,000 high school candidates are nominated for the award by their schools – Gagné said each high school in Canada is allowed to nominate one student – and the list is then whittled down to 1,500 nominees, who must each write a letter explaining why they deserve a scholarship to their chosen university. The university then makes an offer.



Nominees must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, creativity and financial need, according to the Schulich website.

Gagné had no idea École Allain St-Cyr was nominating him until he received an email one morning that informed him he was a nominee. 

“I thought it was a scam at first, to be completely honest,” he said. 

After looking into it, he realized it was legit and began working on his letter to the University of Montréal.

“I didn’t expect much from it … there’s so many people that were being nominated. It’s 100 people out of 300,000, so it’s really crazy that I got chosen,” he said.

He learned during a video call that he had been selected – and says he was able to keep his composure until the moment the call ended.

“I was running everywhere, telling everybody,” he said.

“I was shaking. It was really, really big news … getting your whole entire school paid for? It’s a huge weight off your shoulders.”