Sophie Greenwood

Spotlight on Sophie Greenwood: winner of Governor General’s Silver Medal Award in Science

Sophie Greenwood has won the Governor General’s Silver Medal Award in Science for graduating with the highest average in the Faculty of Science at UBC.

Sophie graduated this spring from the Combined Major in Computer Science and Mathematics program with an outstanding 97.8% average. She said she feels the award is a testament to more than just her effort and dedication to her studies, but also illustrates her sincere enjoyment of her academic pursuits. “I'm thrilled! I hope that people see in my grades a reflection of how much I've enjoyed my studies here.”

Sophie revealed that her path into the field was not a predetermined one. She had a late introduction to the field, and did not try coding until her last year of high school, when she took an introductory programming course. Growing up, some of her interests revolved around architecture and interior design. However, a natural inclination towards science and math led Sophie to explore programming, and she loved it immediately. 

“I was able to use my creativity to design and build systems in a mathematical context. By the time I finished taking first year courses at UBC, I was completely sold on computer science.”

Sophie attributes several factors to achieving what she has. She emphasized the importance of consistent attendance and active participation in classes, which helped her stay on top of the course material. But she also had some specific words of advice for aspiring or current computer science students from a broader perspective. “I recommend both having a high-level understanding of the course and how the major concepts relate, and then pay attention to the details and what significance they have in the bigger picture. In my experience, instructors don't give you useless information.”

She also emphasized finding a good balance between school and family, stressing the significance of maintaining and nurturing relationships, and investing in what truly matters outside of academics. “I can attest that you don't have to sacrifice your grades to do this, and you'll avoid burnout while investing in what really matters in life.” Sophie attributes her success to her faith, “I thank God for providing me with a supportive family and community and amazing professors and classmates, and for sustaining my passion for my coursework throughout my degree.”

Naturally, it didn’t come without challenges and difficulties. “Sitting down and studying for long periods of time can be tough for me as I'm easily distracted.” And she went on to explain that some concepts came naturally to her, but others took more time and effort to really comprehend. She emphasized the need for perseverance and dedication in tackling challenging concepts and honing their understanding.

Looking ahead, Sophie is excited about pursuing a PhD in computer science at Cornell University. She will be focusing on CS theory and AI for social science, ultimately applying her knowledge in a meaningful way that positively impacts society.

What an accomplishment to win this academic award, Sophie! We wish you much success going forward.