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Blackwell (right) at the awards ceremony in Toronto.
courtesy Mark Blackwell

Student named Top 20 Under 20

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Most students fight through high school and university aiming for decent marks and an inkling of a social life, but a few aim much higher.

University of Calgary third-year business student Mark Blackwell won the Top 20 Under 20 award from Youth in Motion which rewards young students from across Canada every year. Each recipient receives $2,000 towards their education, a mentorship from a member of the Order of Canada and a trip to Toronto for the award ceremony.

Blackwell's mentor, Dr. Ostap Hawaleshka, is a University of Manitoba professor emeritus of industrial energy--a field Blackwell already has much experience in. Hawaleshka was appointed to the Order of Canada for his work with the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine. Students are chosen for their accomplishments in education, business and non-profit work by judges taken from the same areas.

The 19-year-old Blackwell founded the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy Students' Association during his first year at the U of C.

"Ever since then, the student run organization has flourished at the U of C and now encompasses over 130 students and faculty at all four of Calgary's post-secondary institutions," he said.

Blackwell is in his second term as president of the organization and plans to continue on in his position until he graduates. He's also working on the Alberta Solar Decathlon Project which has students from the U of C, SAIT and Mount Royal building a solar home. The project will bring the team to Washington, D.C. to participate in 10 contests evaluating architecture, comfort, the ability to power an electric car with energy from the home and other details. The decathlon is taking place this October with only 20 other universities from North America.

"We are starting to push on the sponsorship end and raise our target of $1 million," Blackwell said. "Luckily throughout the summer we have our great project manager Matt Beck working as a full-time staff member to ensure that the project is moving along as planned."

Blackwell is spending his summer in New York City as a research associate for Ludlow Energy Ventures.

"My work here in New York is something that I could see myself doing for the entirety of my life," he said. "I am scouting out new companies that are looking for short term financing to develop or enhance their business."

His plans for the future are still under construction, but he does want to continue working in the energy industry.

"Initially, once I graduate, I would like to work at a financial institution like Ludlow Energy Ventures that has a specific focus on the renewable energy sector," Blackwell explained. "Eventually I see myself starting my own hedge fund or private equity firm solely focused on providing capital for renewable energy companies."

Blackwell, along with some close friends, has already named his potential company BCP Capital.

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