But for the 18-year-old Saskatoon student, the University of Saskatchewan (USask) was the clear choice.
“Since the last semester of high school, I have been ready for a change, ready for a different learning environment and ready for something new, so I am excited about moving on to study business at the University of Saskatchewan and to play soccer for the Huskies,” said McLeod, who has been awarded a prestigious $24,000 Circle of Honour USask Entrance Scholarship for high-achieving Indigenous students ($6,000/year for four years). “I have a lot of pride in being from Saskatoon and being from Saskatchewan, so I am proud to be going to school here.”
In addition to being an exceptional student, McLeod played soccer and basketball and ran track at Centennial Collegiate, where he was elected as one of two senior rings to serve as co-class presidents of the Student Representative Council. McLeod, who also worked part-time throughout his four years in high school, is thankful to have received a half dozen scholarships to attend USask, including a $1,500 award from the Saskatoon Public School Division for earning the top academic average among Indigenous students in the city.
“I am very grateful for the scholarship support,” said McLeod, who is proud to trace his ancestry to the traditional homeland of the Métis in the Red River area of Manitoba and up to Fish Creek by Batoche where his great-great grandfather William Grant was elected as the first MLA for the district back in 1905. “I have had to work a lot all throughout high school, so to be able to get these scholarships is such a huge relief and it lets me focus on my classes and my passion for soccer and not have to worry about that financial burden.”
McLeod is following in the footsteps of his parents Don and Dana, who both graduated from USask’s College of Education and are high school teachers in the city. While he was raised in an environment emphasizing the importance of education, McLeod also takes great personal pride in his academic accomplishments, while juggling school, sports, student council and working part-time.
“Academics has always been something that is important to me and both of my parents are teachers, so it has always been kind of instilled in me,” he said. “But it’s also something that I have always wanted, too, and I have worked hard for it and I’m proud of it. This was also my first year on the SRC and it definitely connected me with the school community and I was happy to become that involved and contribute and I really enjoyed it. I think it also helped prepare me for the next step.”
That next step includes beginning his commerce degree next month in the Edwards School of Business, and suiting up for the Huskies after playing alongside a number of current members of the team on the SK Selects elite summer league squad.
“Edwards is obviously a prestigious school, so I am very excited for it and can’t wait to get started,” said McLeod, who officially signed his letter of intent to commit to the Huskies in December and will suit up in his first U Sports Canada West conference game on August 23 at Griffiths Stadium in Nutrien Park at USask.
“I have been training with a lot of the Huskies since January, actually, so I have gotten quite close to lots of the guys. I definitely think I can compete, but there will be a transition. They are bigger, faster and better, and I know I have lots of work to do to get to where I want to be. But I am super excited to be playing for the University of Saskatchewan and representing the province and I am really looking forward to it.”
USask offers more than $13 million in scholarships, bursaries and awards. All entering and continuing students are encouraged to apply for awards. The criteria for awards ranges widely from academic achievement, financial need, background, school/community contributions to achievement in music and athletics.