Grade 12 student Joh'nell Cleveland Junior stands for a photo in the SMUS quad with the Schoolhouse ivy in the background

Three Senior School students have been recognized this month and their accolades span a wide range of achievements. Grade 12 student Joh’nell Cleveland Jr. (’24) was offered a spot with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program. Grade 11 student Sophia Yu (’25) was awarded the Rensselaer Medal, while Grade 9 student Liam Pope-Lau (’27) was highlighted as an Ingenious+ National Award winner.

Cleveland set to pursue Psychology at UBC Vancouver campus

Launched in September 2021, the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program is helping UBC create a cross-campus community of scholars that bring academic diversity, community involvement and leadership experience. The program is for black Canadian scholars and is offered at either the Vancouver or Okanagan campus. For Joh’nell, he’s choosing to pursue Psychology at the Vancouver campus. Each recipient is awarded $20,000 in funding per year for four years.

“I spent a lot of time researching this award and putting together a lot of time to come up with the best answers that I could (for the application). It was a long wait for the acceptance to UBC and the scholarship announcement,” said Joh’nell, who calls Port Coquitlam, British Columbia home. Joh'nell also touched on the impact the funding will have on avoiding commuting to school daily. He can live on campus in residence and take advantage of all the university student services. 

“The academic advisers here at SMUS have provided so much support throughout the whole process for me including the applications, the writing and even the decision making and picking what might best for us. They have helped me so much to get to this point.”

Joh’nell, who has been a SMUS for his Grade 11 and 12 years, is currently head of Barnacle boarding house on campus and also co-created the Black Student Union at SMUS.

Yu honoured with Rensselaer Medal

For over a century, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has collaborated with high schools worldwide to award the Rensselaer Medal and scholarship to exceptional students who have excelled in mathematics and science. One student each year is highlighted with this award as the top math and science student and this year it was announced that Grade 11 student Sophia Yu was the selected recipient.

Should Sophia choose to pursue Rensselaer for post-secondary education, the scholarship secures financial support of $40,000 USD per year and is guaranteed for four years. Yu is from Beijing, China and is a boarding student who came to the school in Grade 10. Her Grade 11 year is closing out with class schedules that includes AP calculus, AP Statistics, Physics, Computer Science, Life Sciences and Economic Theory 12 – a schedule truly exemplifying her standards for a math and science award.

Innovation honours continue for Pope-Lau

Liam Pope-Lau with MLA Murray Rankin during the YES Awards Ceremony

Whether on stage performing, being highlighted as a Youth Innovator of the Year, winning an Island championship with the junior boys rugby team, Liam Pope-Lau continues to make waves. Only in Grade 9 and having accomplished so much already, it would seem there is no stopping the Victoria student who joined SMUS in Grade 6. This year, Liam was highlighted by the Ingenious+ Youth Innovation Challenge as one of sixteen youth innovators from across Canada who best exemplify innovation in categories of Climate Change and the Environment, Community and Civic Engagement, Equity and Inclusion, Health and Well-being, and Technology and Entrepreneurship.

On May 15, Liam was announced as the National winner for the Technology and Entrepreneurship category for his invention of LifeHeat, a water-activated self-heating survival pack developed to help prevent hypothermia.

Prior to being selected as a national winner, Liam was one of 82 regional winners across the country, each of who received $1,000 to develop, improve or implement their submitted innovation. The National Award nod now comes with a $10,000 investment to his innovation.

As part of Canadian Innovation week, May 13-17, Liam was invited to Ottawa by the Rideau Hall Foundation to be presented his national medal. The event was livestreamed and the winners were presented their awards by the Governor General herself, Mary Simon.