Supporting learners through challenging times and graduating an emerging workforce equipped with the educational foundation to assist in recovery is the focus of Selkirk College’s new annual giving campaign.
The journey to post-secondary success presents obstacles for many students seeking the education, skills and training needed for fulfilling careers. The March shutdown and subsequent uncertainty caused by the pandemic resulted in increased need for students already struggling to afford the cost of post-secondary. Growing out of Selkirk College Foundation’s emergency response efforts, the Forward Together Campaign is aimed at continuing to bolster student supports for the next phase of recovery.
“It’s heartening to see so many learners engaged in all our programs,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “Selkirk College exists because the communities we serve have been so supportive on many different levels for more than 50 years. It’s always inspiring to see how our donors help provide increased opportunity for access through financial gifts that play a vital role in getting so many students to graduation.”
On a typical year, Selkirk College provides $450,000 in student supports. In April, Selkirk College Foundation launched the COVID-19 Student Relief Campaign that increased this number to $750,000. The collective effort saw individuals, organizations and government step up to keep more than 500 students afloat with emergency funding.
Students Show Gratitude for Support
Second-year Social Service Worker Program student Adrian Moyls was ready to abruptly end his post-secondary journey this past spring when the additional obstacles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic seemed insurmountable. A single father of a two-year-old son, Moyls held three part-time jobs prior to the pandemic that enabled him to navigate through the finances of his education. At the height of the shutdown, the 30-year-old’s vehicle broke down and the repair bill was an unexpected hurdle that pushed him to the brink.
“I remember feeling despair and hopelessness because attime, I was heading to my first-year practicum placement,” Moyls says. “Living an hour away from the college, it wasan absolute necessity that I had a vehicle for my both studies and to pick up my son. As I considered my options, I reached out to thecollege’s Financial Aid Department as a last resort. I was provided emergency funding within a few days that completelysaved my entire situation. I couldn't believe it.”
Through a combination of support from donors and personal resilience, Moyls has managed to remain on track with his studies. Now midway through the first semester of his second year, Moyls has experienced the gentle hand of strangers who are supportive of his ultimate outcome.
“On a daily basis, I attempt to exhibit strength for both my son and those who depend on me,” he says. “Through this process, I've learned that showing vulnerability and accepting help at certain times in life isvery important. Upon receiving this financial gift from the college, I discovered more about the individual and organizational donors that support Selkirk College. Ifeel extremely touched and blessed to live in an area of the world where thecommunity really does care about aspiring students.”
Removing Barriers to Affordable Education
As Selkirk College Foundation moves from crisis to continued support, the funds raised in the Forward Together campaign are being targeted towards areas of greatest current need. The COVID-19 Relief Fund continues to provide emergency support, the Digital Equity Initiative is putting much needed technology into the hands of those who cannot afford tools like computers for virtual learning, and annual established scholarships and bursaries remain a vital resource that increases affordability for many students.
“The support we receive from our community is truly remarkable and it has been energizing to see what has happened in the last few months,” says John Kincaid, Selkirk College’s Vice President of Students & Advancement. “The challenges brought on by our current times and the ongoing efforts towards making Selkirk College an affordable option for students is not going away. The college is looking forward to helping the region recover in the coming years by continuing to graduate individuals who will make a difference in the days ahead.”
To show appreciation, on November 28 the college is hosting its first ever Virtual Community Celebration that is free to all supporters and will include appearances via Zoom from Selkirk College students in the Contemporary Music & Technology Program, Professional Cook Training Program and the Resort & Hotel Management Program. This event is being held in lieu of the annual Selkirk College Gala that raises funds for students awards. The Gala will not take place this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
You can learn more about the Forward Together campaign and Selkirk College Foundation at: selkirk.ca/forward-together.