By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
When Dr. Bonnie Schmidt found out that she had been nominated for the Order of Canada, she had to keep it a secret.
But she couldn’t resist passing along the embargoed information to her daughter.
“It was quite a shock. A wonderful surprise,” Schmidt tells The Oshawa Express of the late-May phone call. “I got a call from someone in the Governor General’s office to ask if I would accept the nomination.”
Schmidt adds that she was told not to tell anybody about the honour until the official announcement came from Ottawa.
“It was frustrating. I admit that I did tell my daughter, but beyond that I was pretty careful to understand the embargo rules,” she says. “They won’t even tell me who nominated me, and it’s frustrating not being able to say thank you appropriately.”
Schmidt, who sits on the board of governors for Oshawa’s UOIT, is being recognized for her work with Let’s Talk Science, a charity she founded that helps support science education through Canada.
“We look at issues of what skills do young people need to prepare for jobs in the future and what will prepare them to become the type of citizens this country needs. We found that engaging them in science, technology, engineering and math…is a really powerful learning platform for them,” she says of the organization she founded in 1993. “So we’ve been offering programs for preschool right through to Grade 12.”
Schmidt says her work with Let’s Talk Science has ported over very well with that of the Oshawa university.
“The experiences are quite synergistic,” she says. “My deep desire to support youth development in learning really feeds nicely into understanding what an undergrad population and graduate student population might have, and we’re trying to create a really amazing campus experience for the students and help undergrads and graduate students prepare for a changing economy.”