Nearly two years ago, Samantha Quinto’s great aunt underwent experimental stem-cell treatment after being diagnosed with follicular lymphoma.
In a typical stem-cell transplant for cancer, very high doses of chemo are used, often along with radiation therapy, to try to destroy all the cancer cells.
“The treatment worked and that is when I became curious and interested about stem-cell technology and started to do some research,” said Quinto, who graduated from Mary Ward Catholic School and is a first-year life sciences student at the University of Toronto.
“My interest increased further when a biomedical engineer came to our high school to make a presentation during a biology class. Since I had a personal connection, I was very motivated by what he had to say.”
The teenager was one of two recipients of $5,000 scholarships presented to young students in 42 Division on November 13.
“This award, along with a few other bursaries I have won, will cover my entire first-year tuition,” said Quinto, who migrated with her family from the Philippines in 2005. “I am very excited that I was chosen to be one of the winners.”
The other recipient was Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute graduate Rebecca Wu, enrolled in McGill University’s arts & science program.
“With this scholarship, I will be able to focus on my studies and get good grades without having to look for part-time work,” she said. “This is a happy moment for me.”
Four year ago, the 42 Division Community Police Liaison Committee and the Chinese Community Liaison Committee started the scholarship program to recognize two high school graduates who have dedicated their time and energy towards enhancing their community.
The contest is open to students in the Division completing Grade 12. They are required to submit an essay describing their community leadership involvement and action plan for improvement in their respective communities.
Six additional bursaries, each worth $500, were also presented by the CPLC and the CCLC.
The CPLC student award winners were Rahul Balasundaram, Sara Wusef and Piraveena Ganesarasa, who was unable to attend the event.
Balasundaram migrated to Canada seven years ago and is a Grade 12 student at L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute. He is actively involved in his community as a participant in Member of Provincial Parliament Soo Wong Reading Circle, a local soccer coach and a volunteer with the Cystic Fibrosis Association and the Salvation Army.
He has donated nearly 1,000 hours in volunteer work in the last few years.
Graduating from L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute, Wusef volunteers at a summer camp and with the St. Marks Coptic Orthodox Church. The York University biomedical science student aspires to be a medical doctor.
The CCLC student award recipients were Angela Leung, Yuki Situ and Bryan Yau.
Situ is a Grade 11 student at Agincourt Collegiate Institute and a member of his school’s robotics team, while 18-year-old Yau is a first-year business administration student at York University.
Leung, 17, is in her final year of high school at Agincourt Collegiate Institute. She enjoys swimming, playing field hockey and engaging with young people.
Nearly 60 students applied for the scholarships and bursaries.
“The applications were stellar and highlighted the terrific accomplishments of our Scarborough students,” said Superintendent Kim Yeandle, 42 Division unit commander.
Tapp Label donated the $10,000 scholarships to Quinto and Wu while Teva Corporation donated the six student awards.