Student wins a $80,000 scholarship

St. Pat's grad wants to be chemical engineer

Evan Kiyoshi French | SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
April 24, 2015
St. Patrick High School student Kyle McKee found out Monday he has won a scholarship worth $80,000 to attend the University of Alberta. - Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

St. Patrick High School student Kyle McKee found out Monday he has won a scholarship worth $80,000 to attend the University of Alberta. – Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

A very exclusive five-figure university scholarship is proving to be a household prize for one Yellowknife family.

Kyle McKee, a 17-year-old St. Patrick High School student, says he was shocked to learned he has been named as one of 40 Canada-wide recipients of the Schulich Leadership Scholarship on Monday. The scholarship, in McKee’s case worth $80,000, is awarded to students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

Perhaps even more shocking is that McKee is the second member of his family to receive the prize in the past year. McKee’s sister, Alannis McKee, won it last year but she declined the scholarship after winning a different one more suited to her chosen career path.

McKee said he won’t be turning his prize down, however. It will be his $80,000 ticket to study chemical engineering at the University of Alberta this fall.

“I was really excited, it was almost surreal,” he said. “I could hardly believe it, the shock of getting it.

“I’d like to be able to make some contribution to the science community,” he said after school on Tuesday.

He said his friends were impressed by the news.

“They thought it was pretty cool and they’re happy for me,” he said.

McKee – who competed in snowboarding for the territory at the Arctic Winter Games in 2014 – said he’s into most sports, and skateboarding, and didn’t really try very hard academically when he first started going to high school.

“I basically started applying myself,” he said. “I’m pretty good at sciences and math and I started to gravitate toward it.”

McKee said the huge sum should cover his tuition and most of his residence fees, since it costs around $80,000 to attend the four-year program he’s aiming for at the Edmonton-based university.

McKee was born in Hamilton and moved to Yellowknife after his father – a teacher – moved the family to Aklavik for work. The family made their way Yellowknife when he was entering the sixth grade. He said he’s nervous about leaving his family, particularly his autistic brother, behind in the territory, but is looking forward to life down south. He said he isn’t sure how he’ll turn chemical engineering into a career but he has some ideas.

“Engineers basically solve problems,” he said. “(They) find solutions.”

In order to win the money, he filled out a form, wrote an essay detailing what he hopes to do when he is at school in Alberta, he said.

St. Pat’s guidance counsellor Alicia Larade said she was thrilled after learning McKee had won the scholarship.

“I was very excited for him,” she said. “I helped him through the process and we were waiting to see if he was going to be the recipient and we were very, very excited.”

She said McKee is a diligent student who gives back to the community.

“He’s very involved in the community working for the disabilities council,” she said. “He’s a member of our best buddies team here at the school. He’s really well-rounded.”