Campus LifeNews

U of A student wins RBC Future Launch Indigenous Youth Scholarship

This $10,000 per year scholarship for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in Canada aims to provide opportunities for further education.

University of Alberta undergraduate student Kowen Woo was recently named one of 20 recipients of the 2024 Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Future Launch Indigenous Youth Scholarship. Woo is going into his third-year of computing science

Recipients of the scholarship receive $10,000 per year for up to four years. Candidates are considered for both academic excellence and community involvement. The scholarship is only awarded to 20 recipients in Canada every year.

“It was a big surprise to me at first. I was kind of shocked because I know it’s such an exclusive scholarship, but it feels really good to know that [I’m] backed by the Indigenous community in my studies,” Woo said. 

In June 2023, RBC released a report titled “Untapped Potential: Working Together to Open Doors to Opportunity Through Scholarships.” The report aimed to explain how scholarships can provide opportunities for marginalized youth in Canada. 

According to the report, 13.7 per cent of Indigenous students received a bachelor’s degree or higher credential in 2021 compared to 41.2 per cent of non-Indigenous students. 

“I think just having that support, especially in fields where there isn’t a lot of Indigenous representation, is really important,” Woo said. 

Woo hopes to complete a master’s degree in computing science

Woo’s “path to computer science wasn’t very linear,” he said. He started his degree in biological sciences before switching into computing science after his first-year. 

“I tried it out in my first-year and found that I was a little bit better at it. It came more naturally than my other classes. I thought I’d try it out from there and I’ve been loving it ever since,” Woo said. 

Woo has also been involved on campus, primarily through research and volunteer work.

Recently, he has been part of the Undergraduate Research to PhD (UR2PhD) program that is run by the Computing Research Association (CRA). The program focuses on increasing the representation of several marginalized groups within computing doctoral programs.

During this year’s Science FUNday, an annual science exhibition held at the U of A, Woo ran a physics booth. He has also spent some time volunteering with First Peoples’ House. First Peoples’ House provides space and resources for Indigenous students within the U of A community.

Woo said he has enjoyed volunteering within the U of A community.

“For me, it’s just connecting with other students and having that common goal [and] working together,” Woo said. After completing his undergraduate degree, Woo hopes to obtain a a master’s degree.

“I’m looking to get into McGill for my Master’s in Computer Science. We’ll see how that goes, but that’s the goal.”

Peris Jones

Peris Jones is the 2024-25 News Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Deputy News Editor. She is in her third year, studying media studies and English. In her free time, she loves going to the gym, shopping, and watching movies with her friends.

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