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Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends award South Okanagan students

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Okanagan College
September 14, 2017 - 1:43 PM

Six students will jump-start their educational dreams at Okanagan College this fall after receiving financial awards through the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends scholarship.

Makeena Hartmann, Hailey Grunow and Mickella Di Lorenzo Biggs, recent graduates of Princess Margaret Secondary School in Penticton, along with Ericka Bidwell from Summerland Secondary, each received a $2,500 Scholarship for Secondary School Graduates.

Matthew Ironside of Penticton and Timothy Bey of Princeton were awarded with a $1,000 Entrance Award for Trades and Technology.

“It’s really nice to have help when you are going to school, because costs can be a barrier,” says Hartmann, who had a choice of post-secondary options with a 99.8 GPA. She chose to enrol in the Associate of Arts Degree program because she was impressed by the College’s reputation.

“It’s rewarding to see the effort I put into my studies is being recognized and appreciated through this scholarship,” she adds.

In addition to the high academic achievement of the recipients, the Thorpes look for students who are engaged with and contribute to their communities.

Grunow currently works two jobs and has been actively volunteering in Penticton to fundraise for dry grad, LGBTQ anti-bullying initiatives and the Penticton YES Project. She appreciates the scholarship doesn’t just open doors to her education, it will also provide opportunities for continued volunteerism.

“When I learned I received the scholarship I had tears of joy,” says Grunow, who is also entering the Associate of Arts Degree program. “Having the financial burden off my shoulders means I don’t need to work as much, and allows me to pay forward the Thorpe’s generosity by spending more time giving back through volunteering.”

The Thorpes have a long history of championing education in the South Okanagan, and have supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for more than a decade. Since the inception of the scholarship program in 2006, $102,250 has been awarded to 49 students entering Okanagan College.

“The contributions of Rick and Yasmin Thorpe impact our students in transformative ways as they begin their educational journey at the College,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We deeply appreciate their donations, and the support of our other donors in Penticton who provide life-changing opportunities for students.”

Each year the Thorpes make a point of presenting the scholarships in person to the recipients and their families.

“Meeting with students is very uplifting,” says Yasmin John-Thorpe. “They are enthusiastic and happily optimistic about their future.”

For the students, the level of donor interaction is a highlight.

“It's very heartwarming they take the time to get to know each of us,” adds Grunow. “It is so generous they choose to donate their hard-earned money to help students follow their dreams.”

Applications for the 2018 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarships open in early November 2017 and close in March 2018. Students are encouraged to review the application guidelines at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards for more information.

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