In 2006, Grade 11 Ballenas students Jaime Morrison and Keleigh Annau both received scholarships to finish their secondary education overseas with the United World Colleges. Now, the two alumni are hosting a fundraiser to help other Canadian students have the same opportunity.
“We recognize that we are incredibly fortunate to have received such a unique international education,” said Morrison, who attended UWC in Wales. “By hosting this event, we hope to make this opportunity available for other youth.”
The fundraiser, called Cider for Scholarships, aims to raise money for the Pearson College Scholarship Fund. Morrison said that this scholarship goes toward funding students to attend Pearson College in Victoria.
The college is one of the 14 UWC schools around the globe and the only one in Canada.
According to a news release for the event, many UWC alumni would not have been able to attend these schools without a scholarship as the program select students based on academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and community service, not ability to pay.
“Pearson’s mandate is to ensure all financial need is met for every student that attends the College, so we raise funds to ensure that all candidates are able to attend – Canadian or international – regardless of financial ability,” said Danielle Pope, communications officer for Pearson College. She explained that the funding for each school comes private and corporate philanthropy, such as the Cider by the Sea fundraiser, as well as through national committees in 147 countries that recruit, select and prepare students for UWC.
However, Morrison added that the colleges increasingly rely on private donations due to public funding cutbacks in recent years.
Annau, who had her UWC experience in Italy, explained that she and Morrison didn’t have the means to donate on the scale they would like to, so they decided to facilitate the fundraiser instead.
Both women feel that the UWC experience helped shape the people who they are today. “It was the two most formative years of my life,” said Morrison. “It makes the world a lot more real … a lot smaller.” In particular, she talked about how the UWC school focused on volunteering and being involved in community. “It’s stuck with me,” she said. “It’s definitely fuelled my desire to create change.” Morrison currently works at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo and is in the process of applying for grad school where she wants to study public health.
Annau also said she came away from the experience with a similar feeling and focus. “You’re not only studying with people who are brilliant but who are passionate about making change,” she said. “It gave me hope and also imbued me with a sense of responsibility to do something myself.” Annau went on to study international relations, economics and environmental studies at university before earning a masters of public policy from UC Berkeley. She is now in Victoria working as the executive director of Lights Out Canada, a program she founded while still in Ballenas. The organization encourages schools to shut off lights on Earth Day and provides teachers with curriculum on climate change for the event. According to Annau, nearly one million students will participate in 2015, which is also the 10th anniversary of the program.
Cider for Scholarships will be hosted at Sea Cider, an organic apple orchard and cidery in Saanichton that is owned by another UWC alumna Kristen Jordan, on Jan. 31 from 6-9 p.m. The evening will include cider tastings, gourmet appetizers by the sustainable Truffles Catering company from Victoria, a silent auction and entertainment provided by current Pearson College students.
“It’ll be a fantastic night,” Annau said.Tickets are $120 and are available online only at ciderforscholarships.wordpress.com