Kamloops teen scores full-ride university scholarship - InfoNews

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Kamloops teen scores full-ride university scholarship

Mandy Maher will be studying psychology and music at the University of Alberta.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Mandy Maher
May 06, 2020 - 2:00 PM

Kamloops high school student Mandy Maher had just finished a shift at Dominos Pizza when she got the call that changed her life.

The man on the phone told her she had just won a $40,000 scholarship from the Cmolik Foundation.

“He was very calm about it, and it was quite surprising. And because he was so calm, I was so calm... he said, ‘You just won the scholarship’... What do you say to someone who just changed your life?”

Maher scored the full-ride scholarship which is awarded to B.C. youth who have faced adversity yet are pursuing post-secondary education. She comes from a low-income household and says it has inspired her to work hard in school and with extracurriculars.

Maher was nominated for the scholarship by her principal at the Kamloops School of the Arts.

“I come from a home where statistically I should not have done well, you know, I’ve seen a lot of kids who have grown up like me, their siblings have moved away, they don’t know their father, they live with a single mother, they don’t have a lot of income, and I’ve seen them kind of go off the rails. I think seeing that happen to so many of my peers caused me to do the opposite. I always felt really self-motivated to get my work done, I’ve always had straight A’s in school, I’ve always felt like I needed to be a leader,” Maher says.

Maher was determined to go to university, and says she would have figured it out and made sacrifices if she didn’t receive any grants or scholarships.

“I applied to university in October, and I was like, ‘I’m going to go to university.’ That’s what I kept telling myself. ‘I don’t know how, but I’m going to go to university.’ I just guessed I would have to get student loans and work really hard,” Maher says. “Before this scholarship, there was a lot that I just expected I would have to go without. I don’t have a laptop right now because I come from a low-income family so it’s not like I get a lot of things unless I pay for them myself… I wasn’t going to have a laptop, I wasn’t going to have a keyboard which is pretty crucial for someone going into music, but I just thought, ‘That’s the way it’s going to be, and we’ll figure it out.’”

Maher is a singer and oboist, and plays the keyboard. She will major in both music and psychology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She plans to live with her sister during her studies and hopes to be a mental health counsellor and continue to work with a choir.

Maher wants to let other students from low-income households know that they too can score a scholarship, even if it seems out of reach.

Click here to learn more about the Cmolik Foundation.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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