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Oak Bay High students earn life-changing post-secondary funding

A peek at a handful of significant scholarship winners for 2021
Oak Bay Four Pillars of Excellence Award recipients Anna Friesen (middle left), Orla Scott, and Jasper Calder, with members of the Oak Bay Fire Department during the Oak Bay High awards ceremony in June. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)

Oak Bay High’s Abby McCluskey is among 16 young people issued the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award this year.

Selected from more than 1,000 applications across the nation, award winners are chosen based on humanitarian efforts throughout high school, academics, athletics, future goals, as well as overcoming adversity.

“For me, this scholarship is recognition of the change I made in my community,” McCluskey said. “Throughout my high school years, I have been involved in numerous different groups. These all were causes incredibly important to me and inspired me to continue speaking for what I believe is right.”

It’s an honour that also acknowledges struggles she faced over the past few years.

“Receiving this award connects me to an extraordinary group of individuals who have won this award, and allows me to continue making a change in the world while attending post-secondary,” McCluskey said.

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Due to health concerns, she’ll defer the start of post-secondary. Following a stay in Victoria to receive treatment, she plans to attend Queens University to pursue a degree in life sciences, with the hope of attending medical school.

It’s just one of the financial awards handed out to Oak Bay High grads this year.

“I’m just astounded at the quality and resiliency of the kids in a pandemic year. They’ve reached out and looked for opportunities,” said Scott Alexander, scholarship advisor at Oak Bay High.

Other significant award winners include Amanda Aquino, Christopher Horwood and Esme Johnson. Aquino plans to attend Camosun college in the fall and is among the 2021 Beedie Luminaries.

Beedie winners this year include 111 students from across B.C. who faced life challenges and adversities with determination and optimism.

“It’s life-changing money for her, truly life changing,” said Alexander, noting it will cover Aquino’s living costs while she pursues her nursing degree.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay High students honoured for outstanding accomplishments

Johnson is a 2021 Schulich Leader nominee. An oft-sought award, being a nominee represents the top entrepreneurial-minded STEM student.

Among his scholarships, Chris Horwood earned a B.C. Pathway to Teacher Education awarded to 20 graduates who have demonstrated a commitment to and aptitude for a career in grade school teaching. He’s headed to Florida next year on a music business scholarship.

There’s also Orla Scott, who plans to pursue a bachelor of arts at the University of Victoria in the fall and earned a 2021 Koerner Loran Finalist Award. Alexander notes Scott beat out 8,000 students to be among those earning the $5,000 award.

“Being selected as a Loran finalist is an honour, especially because the interview and selection process for the award was an incredible experience. Speaking with incredible interviewers and students from across Canada was very inspiring, and the conversations I had with fellow candidates and interviewers alike helped shape my perspectives on community leadership and post-secondary education,” Scott said.

“I am very grateful the the Loran foundation for this experience, for their support, and for this significant financial assistance for pursuing my university education.”

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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