Sharon Jacob will begin a Bachelor of Science degree this fall in her first year as a scholarship student at the University of Saskatchewan. (Photo: Submitted)

Meet the Best and Brightest: Sharon Jacob

Best and Brightest Entrance Scholarships are the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) highest valued, renewable entrance scholarships, and are awarded to exceptional students based on academics, leadership and contributions to school and community life.

Sharon Jacob is one of those remarkable students. The 18-year-old recent graduate of Walter Murray Collegiate in Saskatoon received the prestigious George and Marsha Ivany President’s First and Best Scholarship, which is the highest valued of the Best and Brightest Entrance Scholarships at $40,000 ($10,000/year for four years).

Jacob is entering USask this fall and will pursue a Bachelor of Science degree.

“I choose USask because it offers great opportunities for me to further my learning,” said Jacob. “I have built a great foundation in Saskatoon and by attending USask I am still able to aid my community and be involved with different organizations.”

Jacob is a leader in her community. She volunteers at a community garden and the Saskatoon Friendship Inn, is a peer leader for the Saskatoon Open Door Society, president of her community’s Youth Action Committee, and was the co-president of her high school student council. She also volunteers for Plan International Canada’s Speakers Bureau, focusing on the Because I Am a Girl initiative.

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Its Speakers Bureau provides a platform for young people across Canada to learn more about gender inequality issues, develop presentation skills and take collective action to raise awareness. Jacob shares the ideas she learns through the bureau with her other volunteer organizations.

“Positive change begins with individuals who lead by example,” said Jacob. “You should volunteer and participate in activities not because you see what you personally will get out of the experience, but participate because it will have a positive impact in your community.”

In 2018, Jacob participated in Girls Belong Here, an annual initiative to celebrate International Day of the Girl, by supporting females to take on leadership positions and engage in spaces where they are traditionally underrepresented. Jacob travelled to Toronto to work alongside the senior vice-president of the Bank of Montreal.

“Throughout this experience, I have learned that I have to go outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself to achieve success,” said Jacob. “It's important to take risks to understand my strengths and skills I could improve upon.”

Jacob’s leadership skills, commitment to her community and stellar academic record will benefit both her and USask.

“Winning this type of scholarship truly makes me proud of myself … It makes me excited to attend university and work hard in whatever goal I have in mind,” said Jacob.

She has advice for students considering applying for scholarships.

“I recommend applying to a multitude of scholarships and taking the time to explore all of your options.”

The Best and Brightest Entrance Scholarships were created to recognize the outstanding academic achievement of graduating high school students, and to assist these individuals in their pursuit of excellence at USask. In total, 43 scholarships are awarded annually to students who are entering their first year of undergraduate study.

“The Best and Brightest Entrance Scholarships attract and retain exceptional students to the University of Saskatchewan,” said President Peter Stoicheff. “We are proud to offer these life-changing scholarships and to welcome these future leaders to USask.”

Five George and Marsha Ivany President’s First and Best Scholarships are awarded every year. The criteria for the scholarship include a minimum high school average of 95 per cent, in addition to leadership and contributions to school/community life. The scholarships are an institutional award and were named after USask’s seventh president and his wife.

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.

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