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Scholarships offer students ability to continue education

By Melissa Murray

Ashley Solmes, a Bayside Secondary School student, always wanted to pursue a job in health care.

Her decision to pursue health sciences was amplified when she found out that her sister’s friend had cancer. Now, she wants to study medical oncology at Queen’s University.

Her dream to help research cancer became a little easier last night when Solmes and six other area high school students received a $5,000 scholarship to help them pursue health studies in university.

At the Belleville Bulls game, Medigas, a healthcare supplier, presented a student from each of the Belleville high schools with a cheque with the hope that the students will learn and succeed in different health-care fields and then come back to the Belleville to serve their community.

This year’s recipients include Nicholson Catholic College student Elizabeth Lee; Centennial student Micaila Mahoney-Ashberry; St. Theresa’s Sawyer Bonin; Albert College’s Minal Aundhia; Quinte’s Christine Cyr; Moira’s Georgina Chapman and Bayside’s Ashley Solmes.

Solmes, whose parents knew she had earned the scholarship before she did, was elated at finally hearing the news.

“It’s still a shock,” she said.

Cyr, a Quinte Secondary School student, who is also studying at Queen’s University in the fall, was also surprised.

“The school set up a fake guidance appointment to tell me I had won. Even though I applied for the scholarship, it still hit me in the face like a brick,” she said.

Cyr, whose mom teaches medical terminology at Loyalist College, has always been exposed to health studies.

“I’m a compassionate person and Belleville needs doctors. I’ve always felt that healthcare would be a good choice for me,” said Cyr.

“The scholarship is most of the cost of our first year of tuition,” said Aundhia who completed a placement with a pediadontist, a dentist who cares for children.

The scholarship application is comprised of an online form and a 500-word essay. Each year, Medigas representatives go to schools personally to explain the scholarship process and to announce the winners.

“Most scholarships, you have a one in 5,000 chance or a one in 10,000 chance, but because you are competing with people in your own school, for me, it was a one in 180 chance,” said Aundhia.

This is the fourth year the Driving Dreams for Our Youth scholarship has been handed out and this is the first year, that the scholarship included a student from privately-funded Albert College, said Bonnie Sullivan, director of the Driving Dreams for Our Youth committee.

“The students are thrilled to have received the assistance,” said Sullivan, “We hope that it eliminates some of the burden put on parents because of rising tuition, as well.

“These students are competitive, gifted and bright young people. They are the top of their class and they get involved with the community and are an impressive group,” said Sullivan.

“They are also excellent representations of their school community,” she added.

“Medigas wants to be out in the community,” said Matt Hamilton, territory manager of Medigas, “We want to be able to really sink our teeth into a community and make a difference.”

The scholarship is funded through the Medigas celebrity classic charity golf tournament that takes place every summer, which also gives money to families with children that have physical challenges.