Thursday, Dec. 6 marks the 29th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre.
Polytechnique created a scholarship, Order of the White Rose, in tribute to the 14 young women who were killed on Dec. 6, 1989.
The $30,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a female engineering student who wishes to enrol in graduate studies in engineering, either to pursue a masters degree or Ph.D., at the institution of her choice in Canada or elsewhere.
The fourth recipient of the Order of the White Rose joined Global’s Laura Casella to talk about what receiving the scholarship means to her.
Viviane Aubin graduated from Polytechnique with her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in April.
She told Casella that receiving the scholarship “is a great honour and it’s also a great recognition of all the effort I put into my studies and my other projects during my bachelor’s studies.”
This is the second time the scholarship has been awarded to a Polytechnique student.
“I started liking science and math very young because my mother has a passion for math,” Aubin said.
But it wasn’t until high school when Aubin took a liking to engineering.
“During my high school, I started being interested in engineering because it’s cool to try and design things and try to be innovative,” she said.
Her mother, who passed on her passion for math to her daughter, is also a Polytechnique graduate along with Aubin’s grandfather.
“To receive this grant after all, this was a very special moment for the family,” she said.
Though the 23-year-old was not alive at the time of the massacre, the magnitude of it all still weighs on Aubin.
“It’s a lot of emotions because even if I was not born, I understand how this was a tragedy and my family knew people who were studying at Polytechnique.”
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As the scholarship entails, Aubin just started her masters in energy engineering.
“I’m working with renewable energy and hydroelectricity because environment is a very important thing to me,” she said.
Through her studies, Aubin hopes to help the planet and perhaps be part of the climate change solution one day.
“I’m very conscious of all the climate change and all the challenges that we will have to face.”
Part of the reason this scholarship was created is to inspire other young women and even young girls to pursue a career in science and engineering.
Aubin acknowledged that in addition to being the recipient of the Order of the White Rose, she also takes on the responsibility of being a role model for these women and girls.
“I want to show girls that they can make it, that engineering is very accessible to them,” she said. “You just have to have the guts to go into a male-dominated program.”
She added that if girls have an interest in engineering or science, they should follow their interest because there is only room to improve.
“Even if you’re not the best at it, you can still do great things in the field that you like,” she concluded.
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