EMERGING: Grant Legaree
Every student comes to campus with a story. In UM Today’s EMERGING, we spotlight incoming and undergrad students beginning their U of M journey.
Grant Legaree is a role model in his own right, with enough academic accolades and volunteerism to earn himself a prestigious 2016 Schulich Leader Scholarship.
But the 18-year-old from the small town of Atikokan, Ont., is quick to redirect the spotlight to his own role model: his sister, Meredith, who succumbed to cancer last summer.
She inspired her younger brother to pursue a career in pharmacy, as she did. Legaree is set to begin his first year in the Faculty of Science at the U of M this fall.
“I’ve always looked up to Meredith. I wanted to be just as good as her,” he says. “When she would come home from the University of Waterloo she would talk about her classes with passion and excitement.”
Legaree is one of two incoming U of M students to be awarded the prestigious scholarship. His teachers at Atikokan High School attest to his natural leadership skills. They say he’s always had a strong work ethic and excelled at his schoolwork, athletics, and extra-curricular activities. He was the top student in his class throughout his high school career; he participated in four competitive sports; he was the leader of a grueling outdoor education program; and he worked a part-time job as a lifeguard.
It was his sister’s battle with melanoma that moved Legaree to give back. He was part of a team that raised $8,000 for melanoma awareness and research as part of the Strides for Melanoma Walk of Awareness. He hopes to use his future career in pharmacy as another way to give back to the community.
“I want to be able to work in the more rural areas of Manitoba or Northern Ontario for my career and I want to make a difference,” says Legaree. “Our community and other Northwestern Ontario towns have trouble recruiting professionals so I think that would be a good way to give back.”
Legaree says Meredith’s struggle taught him a lot about life, and it brought their family together.
“My sister’s cancer was a battle that involved our whole family. She had to travel for treatment and my mom went with her. Eventually my Dad went as well,” says Legaree. “She fought very hard to not let it get her down. She tried to surround herself with people who could help her smile and we all tried to remain positive and look forward. Meredith was determined to live a full life and she was a great person to ask for advice. She was a very hard worker and she even went back to school when she was still weak from treatment. However, she also reminded me that you need to have some fun in life as well. I have really learned how important my family is to me.”
Their support continues to inspire Legaree.
“I really look up to all of my family. They were each great role models for me in many different ways,” he says. “My mom is the most caring person I know. My Dad knows a little bit about everything and has taught me that it is okay to be different. My sister Paige and brother-in-law Brad have taught me to balance a crazy life and to enjoy the outdoors. My whole family is always encouraging me to help keep me at my best.”
This year, more than 1,500 students from across Canada competed for a Schulich Leader Scholarship. Philanthropist and business leader Seymour Schulich launched the $100 million program in 2012 to support incoming undergraduate students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math. To date, 10 Schulich scholars have enrolled at the University of Manitoba.