Jan. 22, 2020

Brilliant Change

While leaps have been made, girls and women remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Support from a diamond exploration company aims to spark progress.

Emily Tran grew up in southeast Calgary, near Elliston Park, where she has long attended GlobalFest’s annual fireworks competition. “I love that park, but I saw it become really polluted over the years because of the festival,” says Emily. “I decided I wanted to learn how to prevent or fix that in urban parks.”

Two years ago, despite an admitted lack of confidence in herself and uncertainty about where her path might lead, Emily began her undergraduate degree in the Faculty of Science’s Department of Geology. “It was a scary step for me — I was worried I wouldn’t be able keep my grades up and I wasn’t sure how I would pay for it.” Her receipt of the De Beers Canada Undergraduate Scholarship for Women altered her perspective entirely.

In 2018, in a national effort to empower and support women and girls entering STEM fields where female participation is traditionally low, De Beers made a US$3-million contribution to UN Women. Their support includes a variety of entrance scholarships at institutions across Canada — a coup for aspiring female students in the Faculty of Science and the Schulich School of Engineering.

For Emily, the award not only provided enormous financial relief to her and her family by covering her first year of tuition, but it dissolved her lingering self-doubt. “I was shocked to win that scholarship,” says Emily. “That geology was one of the areas for the award made me feel validated in my choice of career, and that meant so much to me.”

Emily now feels prepared and inspired to pursue her path with purpose and ambition. “I wish I could thank De Beers again,” she says. “To them it might be so little, but it’s huge for me. It took away my fear of failing.”

Cue fireworks.

Emily Tran

Emily Tran