In its debut year, the Virtual High School International Student Bursary is already helping one young woman achieve her dream of attending a Canadian university. Designed to ensure that VHS courses are accessible to students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, the bursary is awarded to a non-Canadian student on the basis of financial need and educational aspirations. Let’s take a look at how Sejal Chikhale is putting her bursary to use at VHS!

Born and raised in Dubai, Sejal actually began her journey at Virtual High School in 2020 by taking the Advanced Functions course prior to applying for the bursary. During her university application process, she realized that she needed an extra math credit as soon as possible:

“My counselors suggested VHS to me due to the plethora of positive responses students gave on VHS. I am delighted with my decision to opt for VHS to pursue my courses.”

Although biology is her favourite subject by far, Sejal actually found herself doing really well in the Advanced Functions course. She credits her success in the course to the real-world applications of the assignments, specifically getting to design her own roller coaster:

“What I liked most about the course was its flexibility. I could do it at my own pace and take time to clear my doubts and understand the concepts.”

After successfully completing the math course—with a stellar final grade we might add—Sejal knew that she wanted to learn something new in the area of kinesiology. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen far too often in the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the financial stability of her family. Dedicated to her studies, Sejal refused to give up on her goals and applied for the VHS International Student Bursary:

“Receiving the bursary profoundly assisted me in taking the Introduction to Kinesiology course, which will support me in bolstering my knowledge on human biology and sports medicine. My parents were filled with gratitude towards VHS for providing me with this opportunity!”

Having graduated high school in Dubai in June of 2021, Sejal will be headed to The University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada this fall. She’ll be studying cellular, molecular, and microbial biology in her program, but she’s passionate about ALL the things: nutrition, the environment, genetics, and pathogenic diseases, to name a few. She can’t wait to test out her microscope in the lab and get her research under way. We can’t wait to see what she’ll discover!

A biologist at heart, Sejal points to her role as the lead organizer for her school’s science fair as her greatest milestone to date. She was given the responsibility of managing the positions and schedules for all of the volunteers and participants. Sejal also had to make the brochures and greeting cards. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Sejal won first prize for her research paper on bioluminescence at the same fair!

Sejal credits all of her success to her father, whom she refers to as her superhero. Having grown up in a small village in India, Sejal’s father spent his life working hard to support his family and ensure that they never had to endure the struggles that he overcame. It’s evident that Sejal has become a bright, accomplished, and hard-working student because of his sacrifices and devotion:

“I love to see his enthusiasm and dedication in life, and hope that I reflect the same too! He motivates me to be a better person and always helps others in need.”

Since she will be moving to Canada shortly, Sejal plans to spend as much time as possible with her family this summer. She hopes to visit water parks, go swimming, and dance, but she’s also learning how to ice skate in preparation for the Canadian winters! She’ll sneak in some time for making origami, cooking, learning a new language, and watching her favourite Bollywood movies too. With any extra time that she can find, Sejal wants to dedicate herself to more volunteer opportunities. One day, she hopes to start a non-profit to assist with arranging blood drives and donation centres across the globe to support blood banks in emergency cases.

Innovative, conscientious, AND passionate about global issues? We couldn’t ask for a better student than Sejal Chikhale. The University of Calgary is lucky to have her next year!

To learn more about the VHS International Student Bursary and how you can apply, visit the Awards & Bursaries page on our website.