Silas Moore said it was an average April day when he left his calculus class at J.L Ilsley High School in the Spryfield area of Halifax to check his email. A new message in his inbox read, “congratulations.”
He was about to find out that he was the winner of one of Canada’s most prestigious scholarships.
Every year, 1,500 high school students around the country, each representing a different school, are nominated to win a $100,000 or $120,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship. Only 100 of those students are selected.
“I remember calling my mom and saying, ‘I think I did it,’ and that was such a big moment in my life. And you know, you’ll get a lot of feelings. But for me, I had come from so many disadvantages in my life … I just remember saying, ‘I finally did it,'” he said.
Moore’s resume includes an internship at IBM and mentoring at Brilliant Labs, a charity that helps children learn coding and digital skills.
But he didn’t get the scholarship without support.
Moore claims he was mentored by high school teachers and Pathways to Education, a national high school program focused at low-income students.
According to Chebucto Connections, a local hub, the district had a 55% graduation rate before the group arrived in Spryfield in 2010. According to the Pathways to Education website, the graduation percentage had grown to 70% ten years later.
Ben Clost, a support worker, has been with the group for four years. Moore was one of his first mentored students.
Clost recalls the day he received the excellent news. Moore stepped in wearing a Memorial University of Newfoundland sweater and sweatpants with a huge smile on his face, he recalled.
“It was just like cheers and hugs and high fives and, I mean, it was just amazing. We were so proud of him,” Clost said.
For Moore, the scholarship is about more than himself.
“I feel like me growing up in Spryfield, coming from a low-income area, a lot of these kids are going to get some inspiration and understand that, you know, even a big scholarship, even the biggest scholarship is welcoming to them,” he said.
Clost stated that many students in the district struggle financially, making it difficult for them to attend university. Pathway to study exists to assist students from low-income communities, such as Moore, who grew up in public housing, in graduating from university and moving on to a career or post-secondary study.
Students can benefit from tutoring, mentoring, and scholarships through the program. Clost stated that any J.L. Ilsley High School student or student from the surrounding area is invited to participate in the program.
Moore hopes to return to Pathways to Education in a few years to speak with students. Meanwhile, he will begin his science degree at Memorial University in the fall.