TWU student one of 11 in Canada to win top science scholarship from Ottawa

Langley, British Columbia—When Cari Maschek left a full scholarship at a major Canadian University to learn in a smaller, more personal environment at Trinity Western University, she never imagined the move would lead her full circle—to another, even larger scholarship. With her high academic standings, strong research skills and extensive leadership opportunities at TWU, Maschek has earned one of Canada’s most prestigious science scholarships called the Post-graduate Studies Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). She is one of only 11 students in Canada to receive the federal government award in inorganic chemistry. Her scholarship, totaling $34,600 will be granted to her over the next two years.

“It was a big decision to come to Trinity Western,” says Maschek, a South Surrey resident who transferred to TWU after her first year of university studies. “But the atmosphere here allowed me to develop my ability to study and work at my best. It was the better choice and I’ve gotten much more than I ever expected.”

Maschek applied for the NSERC award last fall, while beginning her fourth year of chemistry at TWU and her second year as the head teaching assistant for entry-level chemistry classes at the University. “I know that I have leadership opportunities here, like being a teaching assistant, that I wouldn’t have at most other universities as an undergraduate student,” she admits. “And that really strengthened my application for the award.”

Over the past year, Maschek has also worked closely with Craig Montgomery, PhD, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the department of chemistry. Her senior thesis project is directly related to a larger project Montgomery has been working on for the past two years. Maschek uses a computer system to visually map out how a chemical reaction happens.

“To understand how a reaction proceeds is crucial for a chemist because we’re always trying to control the way a reaction goes,” says Montgomery, who teaches classes in inorganic and physical chemistry.

For Montgomery, Maschek’s award has affirmed the direction TWU’s chemistry department is headed. “The chemistry department is growing,” says Montgomery. “I view this as a validation of Trinity Western, of the science faculty and of the chemistry department—particularly the top-notch students.”

Maschek, who will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, has also gained acceptance directly into a chemistry PhD program at Simon Fraser University—a rare feat for an undergraduate student. “Usually students are accepted into a master’s program, and after they show that they can do the work, are accepted into a PhD program,” says Montgomery. “But Cari was accepted directly and unconditionally into the PhD program.”

Maschek will begin the PhD program at SFU this fall. Her career plans include researching and teaching.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling 2,850 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2012-08-21
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