Dec '11/Jan '12

When preparation meets opportunity

Scholarship winner is not taking anything for granted

By I. Rapoport

Ella Goldberg at the Burgess Shale fossil site.

Ella Goldberg, a fourth-year earth sciences student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, has won one of four $1,000 Taking Flight Scholarships. The scholarship is awarded annually by CIM and the Canadian Mining and Metallurgical Foundation (CMMF) to qualified Aboriginal high school and post-secondary students who are aiming to pursue a career in the mining, oil or gas industries.

“It was a really good day when I heard the news,” says the Guelph-born student. Goldberg, 20, whose grandmother is a Métis from Western Canada, is an honours student with an interest in petroleum geology.

She spent last summer working for Shell, analyzing data for future oil field developments, and had experience in mining from her previous summer job with Beaufield Resources near James Bay, Quebec. “These internships really helped me explore my options,” Goldberg says.

Last March, she and her team of undergraduates placed third in the Imperial Barrel Award competition. “This was the first time I had a project of my own to care about,” she says, “and we really excelled in a competition that normally has graduate student participation.” The competition was Goldberg’s first introduction to oil and gas – and it was a seminal moment in her professional life.

Starting next September, she will be working in Calgary for Shell Canada with their on-shore gas group. The company has already given her burgeoning career a boost. “I want to go back to school to do a master’s, and Shell wants to help me pursue that,” Goldberg says, “whether I take time off from work or do it simultaneously.”

Goldberg’s past volunteer work at Guelph’s Anishnabeg Outreach Centre, a non-profit organization that assists Aboriginal individuals in their search for employment and educational opportunities, motivated her to make use of all the possibilities that come her way. “When I went in there, I realized that I was really lucky and had a lot of opportunity, and that a lot of Aboriginal youth have been through hardships,” she says. “I would like to be a role model for other Aboriginals.”

Goldberg says she has always been attracted to science. Her father is a toxicologist and her parents urged her to explore the various facets of science.

“I had the same support from my supervisor last summer,” she explains. “He answered all my questions and explained every aspect to me so that it all made sense.”

After graduation, Goldberg plans to take the summer off and perhaps do a trip across Canada. She is looking forward to working in Alberta, where she will take advantage of her closeness to the Rockies to ski, hike and be outdoors.

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