Kendra Burden summed up well just how much winning an $80,000 scholarship means to her.
“It’s life changing,” the Grade 12 student at Bayside Academy said in a phone interview June 5.
“I was going to have to get a job to pay for my rent, my food and things... But now I don’t even need to have a job if I don’t want to. My whole education is paid for... I’ll really be able to focus on my studies," added the Port Hope Simpson resident.
Schulich Leader Scholarships are awarded to 50 students, selected each year by 20 partner universities to receive $80,000 or $100,000 to pursue an undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
Kendra will be working toward a bachelor of science degree at Memorial University.
The 17-year-old, who enjoys extra-curricular activities at her school and helping out in her community as much as she does dog sledding, snowmobiling, and fishing, pointed out that living in a small community doesn’t mean there is a barrier to the courses you can take in preparation for post-secondary education.
“Just because you are from Labrador, doesn’t mean you don’t have the same opportunities as other students,” she said.
Kendra’s focus academically included completing English, physics, chemistry and advanced math courses through the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI).
“CDLI is a great thing and you should not be afraid to take the courses. You have to be willing to pay attention because there are no teachers in the class with you... And I’m fine with that. I’m fine with independent learning. I usually catch on to things quickly,” the confident teenager said.
Bayside Academy assistant principal Sean Weir nominated Kendra for the scholarship. She approached him about the scholarship, he said, and was eager to support her application.
“Kendra is a very independent student, outgoing student. She has a lot of initiative. She did the research about the scholarship and presented it to me. I told her that it fitted her to a T,” Weir said.
In addition to her studies, Weir said, Kendra is involved in the school’s students council, numerous sports teams, and in her community as a member of the Junior Canadian Rangers.
Students and staff at the school were ecstatic to hear Kendra had won the scholarship, he said, and held a celebration in her honour recently.
Kendra encourages other students to seek out and apply for scholarship opportunities.
“I started last summer. Guidance counsellors and online teachers often know about scholarships. Don’t be afraid to ask and put yourself out there,” she said.
For more information on the scholarship, visit www.schulichleaders.com.