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Education Awards are helping youth stand tall in the face of adversity.

Ruby Education Awards

My name’s Melissa and I work on Coast Capital’s Community Leadership Team as a Community Relations Coordinator. Through our Youth Get It Investment Program, we help build a richer future for youth in your community. One of the key areas we focus on is Educational Success. I’m passionate about helping youth succeed during their school years because I had the support of my family and friends to pursue my post-secondary aspirations. Unfortunately not every young person is as lucky. This is where our Youth Get It Education Awards come in.

A bit about our Youth Get It Education Awards.

Access to higher education is challenging, especially for young people who lack support. That’s why our Youth Get It Education Awards recognize young people who have encountered significant personal hurdles and are still committed to pursuing their post-secondary education. Our Standing Tall Award is open to students who have faced challenges in their life. This includes poverty, health, family issues, personal loss and lack of support.

But don’t take my word for it.

I love that my role at Coast Capital connects me with some remarkable young people. Ruby Barclay is an amazing young woman who recently received a Standing Tall Award from Coast Capital. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her to chat about educational success, how the award is helping her, and how she is empowering other young people to stand tall in the face of adversity.

Hi Ruby! Why don’t we start with why you applied for a Standing Tall Award? 

As a young person who used to be in government care, I believe I can be a role model for young people who have had a similar experience and demonstrate that everyone is capable of standing tall. Everyone has the power to write their own story.

What does receiving a Standing Tall Award mean to you? How is it helping you work towards your degree in Child and Youth Care?

It’s an affirmation of my dedication to changing my narrative. The title of the award alone says enough. It wasn’t a fluffy pillow path, but my experiences and hard work have made me fierce. I’m proud of the person I am today. Aside from the financial support, receiving this award reaffirms my purpose. Once I receive my degree, I’ll be in a better position to leverage my experience to help others build resiliency and show that we all have the capacity to achieve what we envision for ourselves.

Why is pursuing post-secondary education so important to you?

Post-secondary education gave me a goal, a purpose, and a future. I am a first generation learner, a woman, and a former youth in care—you could say post-secondary didn’t come along my path easily. But when it did, it gave me a path out of poverty and self-destruction, and will ensure my future is bright.

Ruby Education Awards
Diana, Financial Planner at our Sidney branch, presenting Ruby with a Standing Tall Education Award.

What piece of advice would you give to youth who have also faced personal hurdles?

Young people are the emerging change makers of tomorrow. I encourage all youth to find the purpose in their story. Giving back has been the guiding value for me as an emerging leader. Whether I am directly giving to others or giving back to myself through my journey, that rewarding feeling when you know you’ve shed love on yourself and chose yourself first will be the greatest and most reliable motivator you’ll ever have. Choose you. Because that’s a relationship worth putting time, energy, and love back into.

Why do you think it’s important for organizations to give back through education awards and scholarships?

This might sound cliché, but it really does take a village to raise a child. But it’s not just the caregivers who form the village. There are also the Elders, teachers, non-profits, cultural leaders, emerging young adults, small businesses, service providers, social workers, neighbours and government.

Organizations providing scholarships and awards are a vital piece of ensuring opportunities for children and youth exist in our communities.

Educational Success is within reach.

Young people like Ruby inspire me every day. She is overcoming adversity to achieve what’s important in her life while helping to positively impact the lives of other young people. To me, this demonstrates that programs like our Education Awards are making an impact. It’s a privilege to say that my job helps remove some of the barriers young people face – and that’s pretty awesome.

Melissa Stolz

Melissa Stolz

Melissa holds a master’s degree in Professional Communication, which she believes corresponds well with her unabashed need to write, talk, and share ideas. She lives in Victoria with her submariner spouse and enjoys travelling and spending time with her family.

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