Regan Wilson has always had a fascination with the way things work. “I was that kid who would take apart old appliances that didn’t work anymore to see how they worked. And building things has always fascinated me,” said the Grade 12 student at Holy Cross High School.
That natural curiosity—combined with an aptitude for math, a lot of hard work and dedication, and a sense of community and service that demonstrates a unique maturity—makes Wilson a fitting member of a prestigious group of scholarship recipients known as Schulich Leaders.
Wilson is just the ninth Schulich Leader from Saskatoon and the first from Holy Cross High School. Since 2012, the Schulich Foundation has funded 50 scholarships per year to support students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Students pursuing post-secondary programs focusing on science, technology and math receive $80,000; students pursuing engineering receive $100,000. Wilson will be taking mechanical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) in the fall, and is therefore a recipient of the larger scholarship.
Throughout her four years at Holy Cross, Wilson has demonstrated her keen interest in math and science. “Physics is by far my favourite class, learning why things are the way they are,” said the honours student.
But her interest in how things work isn’t just theoretical—it’s practical too. “I love working with my hands and building things.” In May, Wilson launched a cedar-strip canoe she built in industrial arts class. “It floats!” she humbly proclaimed.
The cedar-strip canoe Regan Wilson built. Named in honour of her late-grandfather who became well respected among the Dene people in communities in which he worked as a mining engineer. The locals would call him Big Eagle, or Det'ani Chogh in Dene.
Wilson plans to use mechanical engineering as a stepping stone for her career plans that require graduate-level training. “In Grade 10 I decided I wanted to become a biological engineer designing prosthetic limbs. It’s a dream of mine to make things to make other people’s lives easier and give them the same ability as everyone else.”
That desire to help others isn’t something new for Wilson. For the past six years she has been volunteering with the Spirit Flyers dance group, a special needs program at the U of S. She has also found a way to blend service and her love of outdoor activities at St. John Bosco Wilderness Camp—for three years as a camper and three years as a camp counsellor.
It’s not all work and no play for Wilson. She’s active in extra-curricular activities such as the school’s outdoor education club, senior basketball team, cross-country running, and track and field. She recently won silver at the city track and field championships in the 3,000 metre, earning her a spot at provincials.
“She’s a well-rounded student and excels in whatever she chooses,” said Michelle Remizowski, a school counsellor at Holy Cross. “She’s a real self-starter and hard worker, leads by example and exudes confidence. She’s top notch, and we’re so proud of her.”
“It wasn’t until after I was notified that I realized that I was able to do those things, and the things I had done in my life are important.” said Wilson. “I’ve always worked hard to keep a well-rounded life, and that’s got me where I am today. The community service and hard work definitely shaped who I am, and I’m lucky enough to get recognition for that.
“I’m excited to be accepted into an outstanding community,” she said of being named a Schulich Leader. “It’s close knit and everyone wants you to succeed. It’s not really pressure, but living up to it and being a good member of [the STEM] community. I’m able to do the things I love. [The award] gives me the opportunity to try new things. I can focus on the journey.”