STEAM Horizon Awards: Catching up with Sawsan Haider
The Ingenium-NSERC STEAM Horizon Award recognizes innovative Canadian youth who promote positive changes throughout their community using science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).
Every year, applicants are encouraged to approach their passion for technology and science from any angle, whether from an art and design perspective, research project, public outreach, or development of a new idea or product.
Through a series of short profiles, the Ingenium Channel is catching up with some of the 2020 winners. They shared what they’ve been up to since their big wins, in the hopes of inspiring a new set of remarkable Canadian soon-to-be graduates to apply.
Ingenium Channel (IC): Give us an update! What have you been working on since you won? Any school or personal projects (or future projects) in the works?
Sawsan Haider (SH): I’ve almost finished up my first semester at university! On top of adjusting to online school and learning to find my way around campus, I’ve been lucky enough to start a few different projects. Recently, a few of my friends and I competed in an undergraduate research competition and submitted a paper on how to develop an artificial intelligence algorithm to combat antimicrobial resistance. I’m also hoping to start a research internship at Queen’s University where I’ll get the chance to play around with CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques! Finally, I’ve also started volunteering at a few places including my local shelter and Habitat for Humanity.
IC: Why did you decide to apply? What do you think set you apart in your application?
SH: As I was scrolling through a list of potential scholarships to apply to back in my senior year of high school, this award seemed like a dream come true. It was everything that I was looking for: it focused on innovation, and it was clear that they were looking for advocates who wanted to make a difference in the world. I think my biggest advantages were not only my experiences but also my authenticity. I really wanted my application to showcase the “real me” and I genuinely believe that that is the best thing that any candidate can do.
"My biggest piece of advice would be to let your passion shine through. While it may seem intimidating at first, the application is really seeking to know who you are as a person and the impacts that you’ve made on your community."
IC: Any advice for those considering applying, but may be feeling a little intimidated by the process?
SH: To me, the application process was a chance to look back on all the amazing experiences/opportunities I’ve had over the past few years and share them with others. My biggest piece of advice would be to let your passion shine through. While it may seem intimidating at first, the application is really seeking to know who you are as a person and the impacts that you’ve made on your community.
IC: As a past winner, would you consider yourself a STEAM ambassador? What makes someone a great STEAM leader?
SH: I would definitely consider myself to be a STEAM ambassador. To me, an ambassador is someone who continually goes out of their way to advocate for innovation in almost every part of their life. Being a STEAM leader doesn’t always mean making ground-breaking scientific discoveries. Instead, it can be something as small as helping out a friend with their biology homework. I think that as long as your kind, passionate, and curious, then you are a STEAM leader.
IC: What did you learn in the process of applying for the STEAM Horizon Awards?
SH: To me, this was an opportunity to look back on my last few years of high-school and cherish all the experiences that I was lucky enough to have. I am extremely grateful for each and every opportunity that I have received, and I think this application process played a large part in helping me realize that.