Austin K.


2022 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Alberta
Program: Finance

With the loss of my mother and the lack of help and guidance from my father, going into post-secondary education almost felt impossible. I have barely been able to afford to live on my own for the more significant part of three years since her passing. I only decided to go back to school when I had found out I may be eligible for funding since I am Métis. However, this “funding” doesn’t cover the bare essentials needed to survive and is not guaranteed throughout my undergraduate program. So instead of keeping my primary focus on schooling, I work weekends in order to cover my needs and to save for the future years of my post- secondary education.

My mother was a single mother. Contributing to a life insurance plan was far from a priority and before her passing, she was unemployed for two years and could not afford monthly bills. This, unfortunately, left my family and me with inadequate coverage of around $5,000 each after her passing. Coming from an already unpleasant financial situation and the separation of my family, this small payment had quickly dissipated. If my mother had contributed to a better life insurance plan, there is no way to begin imagining how different things in my life would be. Maybe I wouldn’t have ever been homeless, or perhaps I would have been able to stay together with my family. What I can think about, though, is that I am on my own throughout my journey of post- secondary education. It is hard not to blame my moms’ lack of savings and coverage for how my life is today.

I have found it very difficult sometimes to continue my education, but with deeply depressing circumstances comes resilience and strength. I remember thinking about what I should do with my life and how “hard” of a life I’ve had and blaming that for my lack of success. I kept thinking, “why me?”, “why did this have to happen to me?” One day I learned about reframing, which, in essence, is turning a negative into a positive. And I started to think, “why not me?” I realized that success in life isn’t all about me; it’s about repaying my family and my mother that worked hard every day and saw something within me when I couldn’t see it within myself. Every day I got up determined and worked harder than the previous one to pursue my dreams of going back to school.

I associated myself with programs that prepared me for jobs, got an apartment, enrolled in academic upgrading, and got out of the dark pit that my mother’s passing had left. I am one of the few Indigenous people in my program, and with the funding from this scholarship, I could perhaps become the type of role model that I needed in my younger years - especially for my younger siblings. I want to graduate from university and take my family along to show them that we can succeed. Together.

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