Rai was recently awarded the prestigious 2017 Schulich Leader Scholarship of $80,000 towards her studies at Simon Fraser University.
At first glance, Jasmine Rai is like any other 17-year-old. Besides being a diligent student with immense passion for computer science, she loves to read, write, tutor and volunteer. In her free time, she enjoys playing badminton and video games with her brother; gardening with her father; and participating in Zumba fitness sessions with her mother. But this young lady has already created her career path in the world. Rai was recently awarded the prestigious 2017 Schulich Leader Scholarship of $80,000 towards her studies at Simon Fraser University.
Launched in 2012, Schulich Leader program funds 50 undergraduate scholarships each year, across top Canadian universities. Through this scholarship, Schulich Leaders can pursue their dreams and become the next global pioneers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Rai was nominated by her school to be considered for this scholarship and was chosen from among 1,300 nominees for her outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievements.
Growing up, Rai had diverse interests. Her curious mind was always asking questions about the human body and technological gadgets. By grade seven, she had assembled her own computer using off the shelf components. In grade 10, she was a member of her high school NASA Club that worked on a seven-month project and qualified for the International Space Settlement Design Competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
“I enrolled in courses such as electronics and computer programming. My experiences in these classes were eye-opening. I enjoyed the logical and problem-solving aspect that was interwoven with these technical, applied-science courses,” says the math and science genius, who realized that computer science was a good fit for her. Sharing her passion for the subject, she says, “I love the versatility of computer science and the way in which computer science coalesces multiple disciplines and introduces a new way of thinking and approaching various problems and finding solutions.”
Meanwhile, she is also cognizant of the gender disparity within the field of STEM. Through her experiences within her school community and extracurricular activities, Rai has personally seen the startling gap in the number of females expressing interest in STEM compared to males. “I think it is incredibly important to support all individuals in exploring their full potential, defying society’s restrictive and stereotypical gender roles. As a student who is passionate about science and technology, I have taken on the role as an advocate for girls in the STEM related fields by encouraging female peers in my school to not only pursue their interests, but to explore options outside of their comfort zone,” says the Princess Margaret Secondary School graduate.
Her goal is to continue towards setting an example for girls by promoting the wide range of opportunities in this rapidly advancing field. “I draw inspiration from the idea of being able to make an impact in the community not only through advocacy but also through following my passion and committing to a career that I find self-rewarding and impactful.”
In addition to her hard work, she credits her parents and teachers for providing support throughout. “I feel very fortunate for having so many inspiring mentors in my life. My parents have always offered me guidance whenever I seemed lost and unsure. The teachers that I have had the privilege of learning from over the past few years have fostered my learning by helping me explore my interests,” she shares.
Rai is looking forward to a successful future in her field of study. “Computer science is a fast-growing and dynamic field as there are many emerging disciplines that are revolutionizing the tech industry such as IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, machine learning, AR/VR (augmented/virtual reality), big data and bioinformatics. The opportunities are endless!”