“Quiet, strong leader.”
This is how Farah Meralli, social studies and humanities teacher at Burnett secondary, described Maggie Xiong, a graduating student who has received Richmond’s second $80,000 Schulich scholarship this year.
Meralli explained how Xiong will give countless hours in service to others, arriving first and staying late when help is needed, supporting her peers but always acknowledging those who help her as well.
“It’s her integrity and kindness that earn her respect from her peers and teachers,” Meralli said about the student she’s taught since Grade 8.
The Schulich scholarship is meant for students who are interested in STEM subjects – science, technology and math – but also those who are considered innovators.
Meralli explained Xiong’s leadership skills stem from an intrinsic desire to learn and to be of service to others, with no desire for external affirmation.
Xiong’s passion for science is what is driving her to go to McGill University this fall.
This interest started from a Grade 9 science fair for which she created a headphone device for blind people using echo-location, Xiong said.
This made her realize that “our world revolves around science – everything has a scientific background,” be that computer coding, the COVID-19 health crisis or the medical world, Xiong explained.
“It’s everywhere,” she added.
Xiong’s goal is eventually to be a medical researcher, but she also plans to study computer science as well this fall, with an interest in creating medical apps.
Rob McDonnell, Xiong’s high school counsellor, wrote the letter of recommendation for the Schulich scholarship.
“Maggie stood out above the rest because she’s a strong candidate in all areas,” McDonnell told the Richmond News.
Xiong excelled in academics but she was also involved in athletics as well as school activities, for example, as a mentor to new students.
“On top of that she’s such a cheerful, happy person,” McDonnell added.
McDonnell said there is a direct correlation between what Xiong volunteers in and her aim to help other people.
“She wants to go out and make the world a better place,” McDonnell said.
He added that Xiong, even if she knew she didn’t excel in an area, was always willing to try new things.
Xiong herself advises younger students to “try everything,” to help expose themselves to new things.
“Doing a bit of everything helps you find where your passion is,” she said.
In addition to Xiong, Richmond Secondary student Rita Jin also received an $80,000 Schulich scholarship and she will be studying at UBC this fall.