Miles Mac student wins Schulich Scholarship


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East Kildonan

Hard work and good study habits have paid off for one local student.

Maxwell Nganyadi, 18, is a Grade 12 student in Miles Macdonell Collegiate’s International Baccalaureate program who has been awarded one of this year’s Schulich Leader Scholarships. The prestigious national scholarships are awarded to 100 graduating high school students focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and are valued at $100,000.

“I’m excited for the future,” Nganyadi said. “It’s a huge weight off my shoulders, off my parents’ shoulders. That’s what I was thinking about, that my mom wouldn’t have to worry about paying for anything. My brother will have more freedom, more money for his studies if he’s not as lucky as me with scholarships.”

Photo by Sheldon Birnie

Maxwell Nganyadi is a Grade 12 student at Miles Macdonell Collegiate, is one of 100 Schulich Leader Scholarship winners from across Canada who will receive $100,000 towards their post-secondary education.

Born in Italy, Nganyadi moved to Winnipeg with his mother, father, and younger brother, Pascal, in 2013. Apart from his studies, Nganyadi is an avid breakdancer, coder, chess and video game player. He even started a coding club at Miles Mac, to share his passion with others.

In the fall, he will attend University of Alberta in Edmonton to study computer science, though he hopes to also continue studying physics.

“Tying to do something with those two fields is something I really want to do,” he said. “Maybe something more niche, like quantum computing or AI, that mesh of computer science and physics.”

His mother, Stella, said she is understandably proud of her son.

“I’m so happy for him. It’s a dream come true,” she said. “Hard work pays off. He’s been a hardworking person. I always tell him if you want success you have to work hard. Success doesn’t come by magic. You have to work hard, you have to be focused, you have to be persistent, you have to persevere. You have to set your goal and work towards it. I see him doing that.”

Nganyadi’s teachers in the IB program agreed that he is both a wonderful student and deserving of the Schulich award.

“Maxwell is brilliant. And humble,” said Janelle Propp, IB physics teacher at Miles Mac. “His ability to problem solve and apply his knowledge makes him the kind of student teachers dream of. He has natural talents for anything involving technology or science. He is going to do amazing things.”

“(He) is very intelligent, self-motivated and a strong leader,” Michelle Zubicki, IB math teacher, said. “He likes to learn math topics beyond the curriculum to enrich his understanding. He’s also willing to put himself out there. At the last gym riot, he volunteered for the dance competition part of it and did well and then demonstrated his breakdancing abilities in front of the whole school.”

“Maxwell is a gifted and intelligent writer and thinker,” added Candace Kowalyk, IB English teacher. ”He is dedicated, thoughtful, and humble. He shows leadership and commitment in the classroom and is a productive and co-operative class member. He is a skilled breakdancer, coder, analytical writer, and engaging presenter. Maxwell has a clear vision for himself and his future, and works on his goals quietly and consistently every day.”

“It was a pleasure to have Maxwell in the French class. He was very focused, driven, and as was mentioned, always ready to help others,” said François Legoupil, IB French teacher. “He has a bright future ahead of him.”

The weight of expectation that comes with a major award like the Schulich Leader Scholarship is not lost on Nganyadi.

“I definitely want to live up to it and be successful, make a name for myself,” he said. “My teachers and my friends all expect big things from me. I hope I can live up to it.”

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” his mother added. “This is not the end. I hope he’ll make himself proud, and his parents, his teachers, and society as a whole. That’s what every parent would desire. The teachers here are so proud of him. If he continues like this, I know he’ll do even more.”

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at Call him at 204-697-7112

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