At Virtual High School, we know just how quickly costs can add up when you venture off to college or university! Launched in 2021, the Sommerville Scholarship was created to help alleviate some of those financial concerns for students choosing to pursue programs in the areas of history, geography, politics, or economics. Named for one of VHS’s most tenacious and dedicated teachers, the Sommerville Scholarship is a $1,000 award given annually to a deserving student who demonstrates academic excellence across the board.

As we gear up to review this year’s pool of applicants, we thought we’d catch up with Elie Cantin-Nantel, the first ever recipient of the Sommerville Scholarship, to see how he’s getting along at the University of Ottawa!

Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Elie currently lives in Ottawa while he completes his joint honours degree in communication and political science. Focused on both elements of the information age and the powers that govern society, Elie’s program allows him to delve into topics like media studies, organizational relations, globalization, ethics, and democracy:

“I have wanted to be a lawyer since a very young age, and I am hoping to obtain a law degree from a good Canadian law school. However, in the past two years I have discovered my profound love for politics and journalism, which has made me consider a career in one of those fields.”

When asked what advice he has for high school students interested in applying to a political science program at university, Elie advocates for self-reflection and taking your time in selecting a post-secondary pathway. He stresses the importance of making sure that you’re passionate about the subject that you pursue so that you don’t feel as though you’re wasting your time or money in an area that doesn’t pique your interest. Elie also recommends spreading out your course load if possible and taking advantage of summer session options:

“When it comes to being in university, I recommend not taking on a full five course load in the first year and instead taking four classes and then two courses in the summer. This will help ensure that you will have extra time to work on intensive assignments and earn good grades.”

We LOVE when students are able to build flexibility like that into their schedules to facilitate better mental health habits and prioritize their most important tasks. Elie even points to this feature as one of his main reasons for selecting Virtual High School in the first place:

“I chose to enrol in classes with Virtual High School because I wanted to take some social science classes that were not offered by the school I attended. I personally enjoyed Virtual High School’s organized yet flexible format that it had for its courses as it enabled me to get very high grades.”

Not only a talented scholar, Elie also works as an independent journalist. He previously held a position as a staffer on Parliament Hill and even worked as a campaign manager in Edmonton! Elie has volunteered with an organization that helps kids with autism and visited nursing homes to play piano for the residents. When he’s not too busy being the kindest person ever, Elie enjoys working out, listening to music, playing instruments, travelling, and hanging out with his friends.

We can’t think of a more worthy person to represent the values and purpose of the Sommerville Scholarship:

“Receiving the Sommerville Scholarship came as a pleasant surprise and as a reminder that hard work is rewarded. I continue to be empowered to give my best when it comes to academics.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the Sommerville Scholarship and how you can apply, visit our Bursaries and Scholarships page.

Applications are due by June 30, so be sure to get yours in soon!