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Women of Inspiration scholarship winners named

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude have announced the 2022 Women Of Inspiration Education Award recipients. Image supplied by Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta.

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta has announced three scholars have been named this year’s recipients of the Women of Inspiration Education Award presented by Syncrude.

Hannah MacDonald will receive the Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship, Ella Nelson the Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship, and Tara Neville the Ann Dort-MacLean Scholarship.

The three recipients were selected from as many as 32 applicants.

“Every year we see more inspiring girls breaking the glass ceiling and being agents of positive change,” Said Sundas Shamshad, Interim Executive Director with Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta. “We believe that education is the driving force of empowerment and are honored to partner with Syncrude to recognize these three talented recipients.”

Scholarships are awarded to applicants, who identify as women, based on financial need, academic achievement, and extracurricular and community involvement.

Women pursuing post-secondary education, such as in college or university, technical or trades, are eligible to apply.

Each scholarship is worth $3000.

Meet The Recipients

Hannah MacDonald has been selected for the Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship.

She’s pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta to major in Political Science.

The Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship acknowledges one’s commitment to volunteerism and community activism.

Serving as student council president for the last two years at her school, MacDonald’s work includes raising donations for groups advocating for Indigenous Peoples.

Her passions also include the prevention of violence against women, raising thousands of dollars for Waypoints.

MacDonald said for younger generations of women, it won’t always be easy.

“No matter what you’re going to do, it’s going to be hard. If it’s worth it and you’re passionate about it, you have to move through that and try to stick with it as far as you can go. You will come across those obstacles, but you will also cross them.”

Among her goals is to one day become Prime Minister.

This year’s Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship winner is Ella Nelson for her commitment to Indigenous advocacy and community engagement.

A proud Métis woman, Nelson is pursuing Environmental Science at the University of Calgary after a switch from Biological Sciences.

Hoping to minor in Indigenous Studies or a combined degree, her goal is to bring clean water to Indigenous communities.

Nelson said her first goal is to work in the environmental field, either as a scientist or a consultant.

“No matter what your passion is, it’s going to get you somewhere in life. Don’t think about what other people want you to be or what’s expected of you. Find your passion and just do what you like because that’s what’s going to make you the happiest and most successful in life.”

Nelson desires to create her own project that will produce clean water.

She often volunteers at events across Wood Buffalo, including Métis Fest and the Writing Symbols Lodge, and helps to raise awareness for issues affecting Indigenous communities.

Finally, Tara Neville has been selected for the Ann Dort-MacLean legacy Scholarship.

Ann Dort-MacLean was the founder of Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta.

Pursuing a Master of Counselling at the University of Calgary, Neville hopes to focus her practice on women, youth, and families while bringing animals and nature into her practice.

She hopes animal-assisted therapies will address trauma where regular therapy has been unsuccessful.

“There are so many things that go on in our lives and sometimes we are our own biggest critic. If you can offer yourself some compassion, pause and honour all the things that you have done so far it’s going to take you a long way. Ultimately, you’re going to make your way into the path you need to take.”

Neville’s hopes to complete advanced training in nature-based therapy and continue her Equine Facilitated Wellness training.

From there, she will work with Postpartum International specializing in perinatal mental health.

Neville’s goal is open a private practice, offering wellness workshops and retreats.

“I think there have been a lot of events that have gone on for people over the past couple of years, in that collective trauma sense, that are now coming out and people are starting to want to come back and address some things that have maybe built up.”

She will do her practicum providing pro bono counselling with Some Other Solutions.

Neville also volunteers with the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre helpline, and draws on previous experience working with youth and vulnerable populations in various settings.

Since 2013, 30 women have been awarded the Women of Inspiration Education Award presented by Syncrude.