Oak Bay Rotary doubles down on scholarships

Two Oak Bay High graduates benefit from Rotary and Sno’uyutth post-secondary funds

The 2015 Oak Bay Rotary Scholarship winner Alexandra Ages awards 2016 recipient Jessica Izard’s parents with her scholarship during the second annual luncheon as Jessica is already well into her studies at Queen’s University.

As Ellery Kirkland embarks on a biology degree, she does it with the inaugural Sno’uyutth Legacy Scholarship keeping the stress of paying for textbooks at bay.

Busy with school up-Island, she thanked the Rotary Club of Oak Bay via video played during the second annual Oak Bay Rotary Foundation scholarship luncheon in lieu of the standard Rotary gathering at Oak Bay Beach Hotel last week.

The Oak Bay High grad is the first to earn the scholarship geared for First Nations students.

Sno’uyutth is a welcome pole commissioned by the Community Association of Oak Bay and raised last year at the school on Cadboro Bay Road, with help from many organizations, including significant support from Oak Bay Rotary.

“Every time I pull up at Oak Bay High school I spend a moment just glancing at that pole and I think about the symbolism, the meaning, the reaching out amongst communities and what that symbolizes,”  said Piet Langstraat, superintendent for School District 61.

“It is truly incredible. It is a wonderful pole but more importantly to me it’s wonderful what that stands for.”

“Sno’uyutth” means “spreading good energy” and it continues by helping Kirkland, a first-year biology student at Vancouver Island University. She lives with family in Nanaimo, works VIU Mariners basketball games and plans to become a police officer.

“The reason I decided to do a degree in biology is because I’ve always enjoyed the subject but I think it will also help me in the forensic side of policing once I get to that stage in my life,” Kirkland said.

She was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by Oak Bay High teacher Steve Price during her four years of stage crew and a year in stagecraft – earning the stagecraft award in her graduating year.

“Working in stage crew four years … really helped me develop my leadership and communication skills,” she said. “Even though I’m no longer working in stage crew I think those skills are transferrable to other endeavours and everyday life.”

Her four years of academic honours with distinction at Oak Bay High helped her earn the first Sno’uyutth scholarship.

“I really appreciate this because, No. 1, all of my textbooks are paid for, taking a huge stress off my shoulders,” she said.

The 2016 Oak Bay Rotary Scholarship winner Jessica Izard’s parents accepted her award from the 2015 Oak Bay Rotary Scholarship winner Alexandra Ages, who is in her second year of studies at UVic.

“The reason I first applied for the Rotary scholarship was because I really connected with the motto ‘Service above Self.’ Knowing there was such a high emphasis placed on community involvement and giving back were both things that I really connected with,” Ages said.

Unfortunately, evening classes keep Izard from Rotaract meetings, the first-year student at Queens University explained via video.

“I hope to encourage others to put service before self here at Queens,” she said. “I really believe in Rotary values and I see how Rotarians get so involved in the community.”

Alongside working on a bachelor of commerce at the Smith School of Business, she hopes to get involved in Commerce Kids group that works with elementary schools once a week as well as using her skills as a competitive swimmer to coach a disabled swim team.

Izard was the Oak Bay High Merit Cup winner for outstanding qualities in leadership, scholarship, citizenship and participation. She was also a member of the high school Rotary group Interact that worked on the 1000×5 literacy project.

“So far my university experience has been amazing,” Izard said. “It is great to see so many people who are like-minded and who are so passionate about their studies and about the way they want to impact the world.”