July 10, 2014
(Fort McMurray) Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude are proud to announce the winners of the Girls Inc. Women of Inspiration Education Scholarship for 2013-2014.
The three $5000 scholarships are being awarded to female students from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, who are pursuing a post- secondary education, be it through college, university or technical/trade school.
This year’s scholarships are being awarded to:
Three years ago Buffy Close and her husband relocated to Fort McMurray with three young children and no savings. However, Buffy was determined to make the most of the opportunities available, and in 2012 she enrolled at Keyano College, making the tough decision to make her education a priority.
Buffy also immersed herself in several volunteer activities. She worked in part time positions walking dogs, driving children to school and as a program coordinator at Fellowship Baptist Church. She adjusted her schedule to take part in volunteer activities at her children’s school by helping the teachers, as well as coaching softball with for Fort McMurray Youth League. It was during this year that she discovered her love for teaching.
In the spring of 2013 Buffy was asked to join the board of NorthWord Magazine as the Recording Secretary. She was also approached by the President of the Students’ Association and asked to run for the elected position of Communications VP role. Additionally, in order to assist with the high cost of tuition, Buffy applied for and was offered a position within Keyano’s Skill Center as a tutor. She soon found herself juggling a full time course load, two jobs, three children, and commitments to both NorthWord and the Arts and Humanities Conference. Nonetheless, after several months of helping adult students, that she decided that a career in adult education was where she wanted to be, and she persevered.
Buffy plans to complete her University Transfer Studies at Keyano over the next two years, and will then apply to the Bachelor of Professional Arts in Communications program at the University of Athabasca and continue to study full time while working for a local non-profit on a part time basis. Following the completion of her degree, she will apply to a Master’s program in Communications and/or Adult Education. Buffy’s dream is to become a professor in Communications Studies and would like to develop curriculum for students who are bound by disability and require additional skills in order to successfully complete their University Education and gain stable employment.
Meryl Streep, one of the most empowering women in today’s industry once said, “No one has ever asked an actor, ‘You’re playing a strong-minded man… ‘We assume that men are strong-minded, or have opinions. But a strong-minded woman is a different animal.” This quote inspired Jennifer to choose to pursue one of the most difficult and intimidating careers existing for women in today’s society: Theatre & Performing Arts.
Jennifer has volunteered countless hours at Keyano College’s Theatre working on multiple productions over the years, learning many things about the workings behind stage. She has also participated in many events, including coming in first place at Suncor’s 2013 Homegrown Talent search. As well, Jennifer, along with other members of the Generation Dance Competitive team, also has performed for seniors at a retirement home, danced at the Children’s Centre’s Christmas parties, choreographed for a charity called “The Young Choreographer’s Ball,” and was one of five dancers chosen to represent Fort McMurray, (as well as the rest of Team Alberta North), at the 2012-2013 Arctic winter games in Whitehorse, YT. The team represented the arts and culture of our region, showcasing what Fort McMurray’s diverse cultures are all about. Jennifer has also taken her own time to sing to hospital patients while dressed in funny costumes (Frankenstein, and SpongeBob) in order to brighten their day, and has taught kids the basics of dance if they’ve needed the extra assistance.
Besides her aspiration in the arts, Jennifer has also been involved in Santa’s Anonymous at Father Mercredi High School since September 2008. After graduating from high school, she came back and became a member of the alumni toy’s team. She was also a member of Father Mercredi High School’s Student council “Mere Army”, and was in charge of their “love is loud” campaign, pep rallies, and other school assemblies.
With her education in the arts, she would like to become a teacher and give back to the community. Jennifer hopes that one day she can help students gain confidence in themselves while learning to artistically express themselves, and navigate the world of performances & auditions. She says if she can inspire even just one person, the all her hard work will be worth it.
Sage has always enjoyed music, which lead her to decide that her career would combine her two passions; education and music. Sage believes that in order to succeed, people should take every opportunity to obtain an education. Sage’s career goal is to become a music and language arts teacher. Because there have been several teachers that have had so much positive influence in her life, Sage wants to be able to encourage her future students to always learn, recognize their full potential, and realize the importance of education. A teacher can make difference in the person someone turns out to be, and becoming a teacher means that she too has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of youth. To Sage, there is no bigger reward.
During the school year in Lethbridge her focus was mainly on her studies, however, Sage has also been actively involved with the Jumpstart Program for Kids. This program helps underprivileged youth in the community by providing funds for recreational programs. She also spent time teaching and mentoring flute students at a non-profit program offered at McGuili Music and Arts School. Over the past six months, she worked directly with four students, encouraging their pursuit of music and instilling pride in their musical accomplishments.
Sage’s accomplishments include having been a University of Lethbridge Promotional Event participant and performer, a University of Lethbridge Music Program Cabaret participant, and a part of the Lethbridge Wind Orchestra Tour. She has also attended Master Classes at Victoria Conservatory, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, and Massachusetts. Sage was invited to be a keynote speaker at the screening of the acclaimed documentary, Miss REPRESENTATION in Fort McMurray, and she also served as a Youth Representative on the Board of Directors of Girls Inc. from January 2008 until September 2011. As well, Sage has been a volunteer for the Rod Hyde/Fort McKay First Nation Hockey Tournament for the past two years.
It is Sage’s hope that she is able to mentor the students by encouraging them to be positive role models, rather than portray negative stereotypes. During her studies she plans to also take courses that will allow her to work with students with special needs. Her goal is to obtain a teaching opportunity in a community like Fort McKay or Fort Chipewyan because she would like to return to the region once her education is complete.
Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta are proud to help these amazing young women pursue their career goals. We are honoured to be able to be a small part of their development into the next generation of Inspirational Women.
For more information about the Women of Inspiration series or the Educational scholarship, please visit our website at www.girlsincofnorthernalberta.org or contact the Girls Inc. office at 780-790-9236
For more information, please contact:
Communications & Fund Development Director, Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta