Women of Inspiration Education Award
Girls Inc. Northern Alberta in partnership with Syncrude Canada have proudly assisted 24 women pursue their post-secondary education goals with three education awards. These women are role-models for girls in our community, so that they are inspired to become strong, smart and bold women in the future.
The award is given based on the financial need, academic achievement and extracurricular and community involvement.
The award will be provided to a female student pursuing studies in, but not limited to, colleges or university studies. Technical or Trades studies are also eligible. Applications will be accepted from June to mid-July.
Two of the scholarships have been named after our former Women of Inspiration. The Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to an applicant who demonstrates a sincere commitment to volunteerism and community activism. The Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a qualifying applicant with First Nations or Metis ancestry.
To honour the legacy of Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta’s founder Ann Dort-MacLean--who retired in 2018-- the Ann Dort-MacLean Scholarship will be awarded to an applicant with demonstrated passion for youth empowerment and gender equality.
Reagan Morris was chosen for the Ann Dort-MacLean Scholarship for her role as an advocate in empowering the 2SLGBTQI+ youth and gender equality.
Morris has involved in dynamic range of extracurricular activities, from sports, through performing arts to extensive community activism, including the Big Gay Pancake Breakfast (founder), YMM Pride (member) and GSA (Gender & Sexual Orientation Alliance: President). Morris shares how Morris’ own lived experience and struggles around gender-based bullying has shaped the aspiration and career goal Morris has today – to be a teacher. And Morris envisions an equitable and safe society – which is Girls Inc.’s mission.
“As a Lesbian woman, some of the most isolating times of my life were the years spent in the school system. Those around you do not want to be bullied, so they are hesitant to befriend you if you are different. Being out and proud set me up to be lonely, but I always had my teachers,” said Morris. “My choice to become a teacher is solely based on how my teachers helped me survive the loneliness of high school, and I am hoping to be that for someone…My biggest goal is to show queer students that you can grow up and be happy. Having positive role models is wonderful. But for queer youth, it is not very accessible… If I can retire knowing that I made students feel safe in their own identities I will have completed my career objectives.”
Destiny Smorong has been awarded the Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship, as an Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) young woman who engages deeply with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
This includes volunteering with the Full Circle Mentoring program run by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo – and after school program where children from various grades learn about different aspects of the Indigenous culture. The purpose and motives behind this volunteer work is demonstrated through Smorong’s strong and clear goal, which is to “contribute back to the region and to other First Nations individuals” by majoring in human resources under the discipline of business administration. Smorong hopes to foster Indigenous entrepreneurship and business relations through Indigenous talent development/acquisition.
“My career objectives once I complete the Bachelor of Business Administration is to work for an Indigenous business within the Wood Buffalo area and to hopefully one day start my own business….Working for an Indigenous business within the Wood Buffalo area is important to me, because I am originally from Fort Chipewyan…Currently the community of Fort Chipewyan has a new and thriving school system which is a giant step towards the right direction of ensuring that Indigenous people are receiving equal opportunity in education…I would personally be honoured to be a part of the next step where individuals might be looking to start their careers, or looking to change them,” said Smorong.
Mariam Arain has been selected for the Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship for extensive community volunteering engagement in developing and using youth’s ‘voice’ – the core value of what Girls Inc. experience is all about.
Arain’s community activism focuses on inclusion and youth empowerment. This includes speaking at key events like human rights conference and World Hijab Day, assisting community organizations like Multicultural Association Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray Food Bank and serving on the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Youth.
Learning from the peer youth volunteers, Arain has learned the diverse needs and solutions around youth in the community - such as Indigenous art, music/songs and social media messaging – and brought such voices to the Mayor’s attention.
“As an accountant I am pursuing a career stereotyped for men and I hope to be a trail-blazing woman in the business world… As a youth volunteer, I have been fortunate to share my ideas at the 2017 Human Rights conference, as well as, independent presentations for Youth Voices work to RMWB Mayor and council,” said Arain. Through these experiences, I learned that bringing positive change is facilitated by having the motivation, leadership skills and credibility to reinforce your actions. A Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting will allow me to pursue my passion for business while developing the required skills, and credibility to continue making positive changes as a bold, female, community and business leader."