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Meet four of the 2017-2018 Cenovus Aboriginal scholarship recipients

Aboriginal scholarship

June 2018 – Colton Smorong is pursuing a kinesiology degree. Jackie Vonk is studying business administration; Sara Voyageur is working toward a nursing degree; while Germaine Goodrunning is enroled in early childhood learning. And they all found the financial load a bit lighter this past year after receiving help through the Cenovus Aboriginal Scholarship program.

They were among 32 Aboriginal student scholarship recipients for the 2017-18 school year. The financial award is offered each year by Cenovus to Aboriginal students located near our operating areas. Students apply in the spring and awards are given out at the start of the winter semester. The scholarships are granted based on successful enrolment into a full-time accredited program and also take into consideration community involvement, academic achievement, career goals and financial need.

Over the past five years we’ve awarded 94 scholarships to Aboriginal students. Part of the program’s goal is to support students through completion of their post-secondary studies. We have awarded more than 30 renewal scholarships in the last five years to 19 individuals, nine of which have gone through completion of their program in a diverse range of areas, including electrical apprenticeship, community social work, business, medicine, nursing, native American studies and law.

Here are some thoughts from our 2017-18 recipients:

Colton Smorong, (Kinesiology, University of Calgary)

Colton Smorong
Colton Smorong

Colton, a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, says the scholarship allowed him to focus full-time on his studies by not having to work this past term. He decided to pursue kinesiology after he injured himself. When he’s not in school, Colton volunteers at a senior’s facility in Calgary as a way of giving back to the community.

“I tore the anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee as I was working as an apprentice millwright. While waiting for surgery I became more interested on how the human body functioned, this accident made me appreciate my body more and was a catalyst to change careers. After graduation, I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy so that I can help others with their rehabilitation needs.”

Jackie Vonk, (Business administration, Portage College)

Jackie Vonk
Jackie Vonk

Jackie, who is from Lac La Biche, Alberta, and a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, says financial stress is something that a lot of post-secondary students have to deal with, but by receiving the Cenovus Scholarship it helped her to avoid that downside while receiving her education. She says the scholarship has allowed her to focus her time and energy on studying, rather than stressing about how she would feed herself and pay the bills.

“My high school math teacher inspired me to pursue accounting. He taught me how to tap into my potential when it came to working with numbers and encouraged me to pursue a career that would showcase my abilities. Through his encouragement, I learned to love mathematics and absolutely love the education focus around it that I am receiving,” says Jackie. “When I have completed my studies in accounting, I hope to receive my Chartered Professional Accounting designation and begin a career in the accounting field. I plan to build a customer profile of mainly individuals and small businesses, and assist them in their financial needs.”

Sara Voyageur, (Nursing, University of Alberta in collaboration with Keyano College)

Sara Voyageur
Sara Voyageur

For the past four years, the Cenovus scholarship has helped Sara, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, in pursuing her nursing studies. It has benefitted her by assisting with the purchase of textbooks, along with other necessities such as nursing scrubs and a stethoscope.

“I am beyond grateful to Cenovus Energy for choosing me as a recipient. Since I was in kindergarten, I knew I wanted to work in the health-care field. When I got to high school, I knew I wanted to pursue nursing. My parents and my sister encouraged me to not give up on what I truly want in life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” says Sara. “I am from a small indigenous community called Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. I hope to return to my hometown once I am finished and work as a public health nurse in my community to help my people to improve their health.”

Germaine Goodrunning, (Early Learning Child Certificate, Blue Quills University)

Germaine Goodrunning
Germaine Goodrunning

Germaine, who is a member of the Sunchild First Nation and lives in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, says receiving the Cenovus scholarship really helped her this past year by letting her catch up on bills and bring financial stability for her family. “Returning to post-secondary education as a single mother of two has been an exciting experience. I found an environment at Blue Quills University that was full of awesome people who helped me adjust to a return to school and further fueled my love of learning,” says Germaine. “My older sister and mother inspired me to continue learning and pursue a post-secondary education so I’m very thankful for their encouragement.” Germaine says she plans to continue her Early Learning Child studies in September. In the future, she hopes to work with head-start kids or kindergarten children.

Visit our application page Aboriginal Scholarship program to learn more about the eligibility requirements and apply for the 2018-19 school year scholarships.