It was senior year of high school when Saskia Laufer knew she wanted to be an academic. She was in a research class.
“I basically conducted my own research study and then wrote up a mini-dissertation to it,” she said. Laufer is Jewish. The 19-year-old Toronto native wrote about Jewish prayer, and the different types of prayer and space. “And, I really, really enjoyed doing that and it felt so fulfilling to see my work have an impact on people and bring the opinions of different people out into the world.”
This all happened at a time Laufer was deciding where to go to university. She knew if she was going to pursue higher learning, she wanted to do it right.
“I think that the [Foundation Year Program] is one of a kind,” said the first-year student. “It’s absolutely excellent in building a foundation for any kind of academia.” She is approaching her education with the mentality of a soldier in basic training. “I’m treating FYP as kind of an essay-writing bootcamp I guess. I’m really hoping to improve my academic writing by the end of the year and read a lot of cool texts.”
‘Cool texts’ include those on cool topics like philosophical particle physics, which has been Laufer’s favourite so far. “I enjoy reading philosophy more when it has more application to the material world. I think when it gets too hypothetical, I don’t really know where it’s going, so I really enjoyed seeing where it connected to science and physics.”
Laufer has no regrets coming to King’s, but there was a time when she couldn’t make up her mind and even came close to accepting an offer from another school. But then she found out she would receive a Donald R. Sobey Family scholarship.
“It felt amazing honestly,” she said. “When I got the scholarship it just sort of… it all kind of clicked into place. I let myself sort of accept that this was what I really wanted to do, and I could not be happier that I’m here.”
Gwendoline Edith Chant, from St. John’s, N.L., also received a Donald R. Sobey Family scholarship this year.
“In 2015…I decided King’s is the school for me. And so I was like, ‘I’m going to apply for the Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarship, it’s going to be great.’ I decided that then. It was on the vision board…but I didn’t expect it actually to happen, even though I did work very hard towards it specifically. [When I found out I’d won] I was pretty excited…Frankly numb.”
Chant said one thing that appealed to her about King’s is that it’s a small school but through its partnership with neighbouring Dalhousie University, it also provides access to a wide variety of classes offered next door.
“[Also] I liked the concept of the Foundation Year Program, moving sort of chronologically through time from the ancient world to the modern day and looking at the thoughts and ideas that people have had at various points in history.”
Now in her third month at King’s, Chant said she’s enjoying the exposure to a wide range of ideas FYP offers. “We get so caught up in our contemporary view of things, and treat that as almost the only view or the most important view, like everyone who came before us was just wrong…I like that in FYP we look at the ideas for what they are and not just as some artifact.” She said her thinking has already evolved considerably. She plans to study sciences in her upper years and said King’s interdisciplinarity blending of arts and sciences interests here.
Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, proven leadership skills, and involvement in school and/or community activities. The scholarship is valued at $50,000 over four years. Applicants must be Canadian citizens and entering the University of King’s College (preference is given to students entering the Foundation Year Program). Applications are due Jan. 15.