Cassidy Blanchard of Meadows has clinched a national award and with it a scholarship for $25,000.
The 18-year-old is one of five Canadians, and the only student from Atlantic Canada, to win a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Horizon Award.
Cassidy is no stranger to the sciences.
During the summer of 2017, she worked as a bee research assistant to Dr. Julie Sircom at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus. Cassidy’s position was thanks to the Women in Science and Engineering Student Summer Employment Program.
Collecting and studying bees was the best summer job she could ask for, the enthusiastic teenager said.
“We researched the health of the bee populations on the island. There is so much damage done to bee populations in other parts of the world. Newfoundland bees are actually some of the healthiest so scientists are interested in keeping that population healthy,” Cassidy said during a recent phone interview.
Cassidy is in her final year of high school at Templeton Academy. She tutors several students in math and chemistry.
She will put her scholarship to good use when she begins post-secondary studies at Memorial University in September.
Cassidy’s study plan will see her working towards a biochemistry degree. Another goal is to get accepted into medical school.
During her studies at MUN, Cassidy intends to become a leader with the Women in Science and Engineering Program. She’ll encourage other students to think about careers in the Horizon program as well, she said.
“STEAM careers will always be important. There will always be research to be done and ways to improve our environment, our health care and our overall economy,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy’s volunteer commitments to her community are numerous and include the Relay for Life, Run for the Cure and We Scare Hunger.
When asked about We Scare Hunger, Cassidy said the event takes place on Halloween. Rather than collect candy, she said, volunteers carry out a food drive.
Cassidy said she is grateful to Deborah Green, her former arts teacher, for encouraging her in her volunteer efforts.
“She organized all my volunteer efforts and I can’t thank her enough for that. She has given me a lot of opportunities to get out in the community and help others.”
Cassidy said her family has also encouraged her to strive to be her best.
“I can’t thank my parents (Kim and Craig Blanchard) for always pushing me to do more. And my grandmother (the late Debbie Park) taught me to read when I was about three. I think that had a big impact on me being so driven,” she said.
She was surprised, she said, when she found out she’d won the Horizon Award.
“I read the profiles of students (who won the award) in the past. They are absolutely brilliant. I’m humbled and flattered to be associated with such high-achieving students,” she said.
Kim said she was ecstatic when she heard that her daughter had won the award.
Cassidy’s 14-year-old sister Kennedy is also proud of Cassidy’s accomplishment.
Cassidy is a role model for Kennedy, Kim said.
There are no words for how proud and excited the whole family is of Cassidy, her mother said.
Founded in 2016, the Horizon Awards encourage youth to promote positive changes in their communities using science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
The Ingenium Foundation, in collaboration with other partners, sponsors the Horizon Awards. The foundation supports the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
Cassidy and her mother will be at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa on May 15 where Science Minister Kirsty Duncan will present Cassidy and the other winners with their awards. Other government officials, representatives from the corporate community and high school students will also be in attendance.
“I can’t wait to meet the people behind the award and thank them,” Cassidy said.
For more information on the awards visit https://steamhorizonawards.ca/