Submitted to the Castlegar News
Selkirk College bursaries have the power to change lives and embolden students to make it through the challenges that stand in the way of realizing their educational dreams. Earlier this month, students and donors gathered at Nelson’s Mary Hall for the annual bursary tea to celebrate the important financial awards.
As the first semester wound down in December, recreation, fish and wildlife program student David Greaves had more to worry about than final exams. With four kids under the age of 12 and one on the way, the second year student had the Christmas season to tackle and was hoping Santa Claus wouldn’t disappoint.
“I was stressed, I wasn’t sure we were going to make it through,” said Greaves.
At the bursary tea, Greaves told his story to the more than 240 students, donors and Selkirk College staff assembled for the annual event. Chosen to speak on behalf of students, Greaves talked about how the bursaries he received this year has helped him carry on.
“It gives you the incentive to do the best you can with it,” said Greaves. “Somehow the support will be there. If you work hard, it will be recognized.”
Helping students focus on education
Each year, Selkirk College awards more than $300,000 in scholarships, bursaries and other awards. Bursaries are based on financial need and scholarships are awarded on academic merit.
After high school, Greaves was accepted to Selkirk College but chose to dive into a working life instead.
Though he was successful and making ends meet, just before he turned 30, Greaves decided to make an abrupt change. His love for biology and the outdoors steered him towards the recreation, fish and wildlife program at Selkirk College.
With a young family, it wasn’t an easy choice.
“When you have kids you have to really love your job because that’s your escape,” Greaves said about his decision to pursue his passion.
Knowing a return to school would require sacrifice, Greaves needed buy-in from his partner Nicole Merritt.
“I really support him and I’m proud of him,” Merritt said. “He’s a great example for our kids.”
The financial boost Greaves has received from his bursaries has enabled him to focus on soaking in the educational experience of the final semester of his program.
“It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “We had serious concerns about juggling how we were going to make ends meet and put food on the table. Now that has been lifted in the short term.”
Donors make a
Also speaking on the afternoon was Dr. Peter Wood who told his story on behalf of the donors and gave students a better understanding of the people who provide support on their academic journey.
Wood, a former Selkirk College biology instructor, contributes towards both a bursary and scholarship with his wife Ann.
“The education of young people is essential to the well-being of human society,” said Wood.
Wood spoke about how he benefited from bursaries while a young student at Bangor University in the United Kingdom, saying that without the assistance he would not have been able to pursue his post-secondary goals.
He went on to Cornell University in New York where he completed his master’s degree, once again assisted by financial awards.
“The trust in our abilities by others along the way made me and [my wife] Ann what we are today,” he told the crowd.
Wood moved to the South Slocan in 1967 and was hired as a biology instructor at Selkirk College in 1968. He retired in 1998 after 30 years of helping change lives and inspire students in the classrooms of the Castlegar campus.
More than 150 bursaries were awarded at this year’s Bursary Tea. Find out more about Selkirk College bursaries, scholarships and awards at selkirk.ca/financial-information/financial-aid/scholarships-awards-bursaries.