Markia Schenkels of Shortts Lake will leave for Scot­land in Septem­ber to be­gin stud­ies in medicine at the his­toric Univer­sity of St. An­drews.

VIC­TO­RIA, B.C. - Her ex­u­ber­ance comes across, even over the tele­phone from the other side of the coun­try.

“I am pretty busy, that’s for sure,” Marika Schenkels says, from within the Marine Sci­ence Lab at the Lester B. Pear­son United World College in Vic­to­ria, B.C.

“And it’s def­i­nitely hard to study at a place like Pear­son where there’s scuba div­ing and kayak­ing and oceans and field trips,” she laughs. “But, some­how, I man­age to fit it all in. Some­times my sleep might suf­fer a lit­tle bit for it but it all works out in the end.” In­deed.

So much so that Schenkels, 18, of Shortts Lake has been awarded a full, four-year schol­ar­ship val­ued at $200,000 through the Mceuen Foun­da­tion, with plans to study medicine at the pres­ti­gious Univer­sity of St. An­drews in Scot­land fol­low­ing her up­com­ing grad­u­a­tion from Pear­son.

And that is just the lat­est in a long line of ac­com­plish­ments the 18-year-old has achieved so far.

In 2017, while at­tend­ing South Colch­ester Academy in Brook­field, Schenkels was one of 40 Cana­di­ans cho­sen to re­ceive a schol­ar­ship, val­ued at $33,000 per year, to at­tend Pear­son, where she is com­plet­ing her high school cred­its.

“I was orig­i­nally look­ing for­ward to kind of com­ing back east for univer­sity but then, when the Mc­cuen (schol­ar­ship) and St. An­drews hap­pened, I went a lit­tle too far east and ended up in Scot­land,” she says. “It’s quite the op­por­tu­nity … I will start my med­i­cal school there and then hope­fully fin­ish it off and do my res­i­dency in Canada.”

Schenkels has not en­tirely set­tled on what ar­eas of medicine to spe­cial­ize in, although ob­stet­rics or re­pro­duc­tive health are cur­rent top­ics of in­ter­est.

“But that could to­tally change dur­ing the next long years when I’m in school,” she chuck­les. “I’d like to not work in the hos­pi­tal for­ever. Like I men­tioned, I think re­pro­duc­tive health is some­thing I could re­ally ex­cel at, so whether that’s work­ing with NGOS (non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions) or Doc­tors with­out Bor­ders, that kind of thing, to sup­port re­pro­duc­tive rights and ma­ter­nal health is some­thing I think I’d like to do.”

Schenkels had to write an ac­cep­tance exam and un­dergo an interview for ad­mit­tance into St. An­drews be­fore she could even ap­ply for the Mceuen Schol­ar­ship. Then she had to fly to Ot­tawa, three days be­fore the start of yearend ex­ams, for a sep­a­rate schol­ar­ship interview.

“I kind of told my­self that none of them were go­ing to work out along the way. So, I was sur­prised at ev­ery step of the way when things kept work­ing out and they worked out right un­til the end, which I re­ally never ex­pected at all,” she says. “It was quite the sur­prise to come out here too be­cause I also didn’t to­tally ex­pect that would hap­pen. So, it’s been a se­ries of re­ally awe­some ac­com­plish­ments for sure.”

In ad­di­tion to her stud­ies at Pear­son, Schenkels has be­come an ad­vanced, cer­ti­fied scuba diver and is a scuba div­ing leader there. She is in­volved in var­i­ous marine sur­veys, teaches and par­tic­i­pates in chore­o­graph and is in­volved in gum­boot danc­ing, a form of South African cul­ture.

“It’s just such an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence to study with other young lead­ers and peo­ple that are re­ally driven about so­cial is­sues and sus­tain­abil­ity,” she says, earnestly. “As much as I loved my time at SCA, this was a chal­lenge that I had to try to go for and I think it has made me a bet­ter per­son and shown me a lit­tle bit more of who I want to be in the fu­ture.”

Fol­low­ing her day­time stud­ies at Pear­son, Schenkels said there are of­ten af­ter-din­ner, stu­dent-led dis­cus­sions on global is­sues, race, gen­der and sex­u­al­ity or other random con­ver­sa­tions.

“I think it’s just such an ad­ven­ture. We have 200 kids here, which is very small, of course, but we rep­re­sent 85 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. So, not know­ing what dis­cus­sion you are go­ing to get into that day or what kind of snacks you’re go­ing to be eat­ing that you can’t re­ally pro­nounce, or just th­ese things and ex­pe­ri­ences that you don’t get to have un­less you are at a school like this.”

She en­cour­ages other young stu­dents to fol­low her lead by ap­ply­ing to one of the 17 United World College (UWC) pro­grams around the world.

“Everyone should ap­ply to UWC be­cause it’s been such a step­ping stone in my life that this op­por­tu­nity would not have hap­pened with­out it,” she says. “It’s re­ally for­ma­tive.”

Schenkels’s mother Luanne said her daugh­ter has al­ways been “bright and mo­ti­vated” but she cred­its her ed­u­ca­tion at SCA with giv­ing her the ground­ing that is help­ing her ad­vance in life.

“It gave her a strong foun­da­tion prior to leav­ing and helped with her success both aca­dem­i­cally and from a com­mu­nity in­volve­ment per­spec­tive. She learned the ropes there and con­tin­ued to use them when she was out west,” she said. “She’s sort of car­ry­ing, slightly, the torch of be­ing in­volved and hope­fully con­tin­ues that with her ca­reer choice.”


Markia Schenkels of Shortts Lake, who is cur­rently study­ing at the Lester B. Pear­son United World College in Vic­to­ria B.C., will be leav­ing for Scot­land in Septem­ber to be­gin stud­ies in medicine at the Univer­sity of St. An­drews, where teach­ing be­gan in 1410.


With the sun­light fil­ter­ing through the trees be­hind her, Marika Schenkels is seen tak­ing a break dur­ing a hike through the rugged, 47-km Juan de Fuca Trail along the south­west­ern coast of Van­cou­ver Is­land.


Scuba div­ing is just one of the pur­suits Marika Schenkels of Shortts Lake is mas­ter­ing dur­ing her stud­ies at the Lester B. Pear­son United World College in Vic­to­ria B.C.

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