High achievers find good jobs

Members of the Honours Society of Qualicum Beach have much to be proud of

From left

From left

A director at a social media management company, a stuntman in Hollywood and a team leader at Microsoft.

These are just some of the careers students from Qualicum Beach’s Honours Society have gone on to secure. But getting cool jobs isn’t the only reason Len Townsend thinks the society is so important.

“I think it gives maybe a reality check that there is a community out there and there’s more to just being in school,” said Townsend, a director of the Qualicum Beach Honours Society since 2007.

The Qualicum Beach Honour Society began in 1992, as a separate entity from Kwalikum Secondary School. Grade 12 students need to maintain an 83 per cent average to stay in the society and at the end of the school year they receive a scholarship. The students must also volunteer at a number of community events and attend a couple luncheons throughout the year, plus a year-end banquet. At these events students have the opportunity to listen to a past Honours Society student, who has achieved success. This year’s speaker was Aki Kaltenbach, currently director of solution partners at HootSuite (a social media management company), who graduated in 1997. Olympic figure skating champion Victor Kraatz spoke in 1999, stuntman Chris Webb came back to speak in 2008, and software tester Ben Randall, with Microsoft, spoke in 2011.

Townsend said the luncheons and banquet are also a chance for students to mingle with like-minded students, and recalls an “ah ha” moment at a gathering this year. During the meeting, the students stand and give a chat about what their plans are and where they’re going, he said.

“At the end one woman said, ‘what surprised me most is that I never realized everyone in the group had plans as definite as I did’, ” he said.

Townsend said it was encouraging to hear that the students enjoyed talking about their futures, when they don’t often talk about such things after the school bell rings.

Twenty-four students were successful applicants to the Honours Society this year, including Flavia Sposato, Ben Robson and Sasha Zinovich.

Sposato loves to explore the Island by hiking and walking and is a self-proclaimed book-worm. She has been accepted into the department of social sciences at the University of Victoria in the fall where she’ll be studying Psychology, Anthropology, English and Biology. Robson’s favourite subject this year was chemistry and he’s big into soccer. He plans on attending Vancouver Island University in the fall and may move on to a degree in law or criminology with an eye to become a member of the RCMP.

Zinovich is excited to get some travelling in, and expects to be out of the country this summer. This September she will be attending Bishop’s University in Lennoxville Quebec, where she hopes to pursue a career in psychology. Down the road, she’s interested in going into neuroscience and becoming a professor.

Once a student has confirmed their registration in a post secondary institution or course, their scholarship money goes toward their total tuition cost. If a student gets exceptional grades they are eligible for some extra money.

Townsend said they are trying to increase the amount of scholarship money they can hand out to students, since tuition costs are on the rise.

Sixty per cent of Canadian students graduate with an average debt of $27,000 for an undergraduate degree, according to a study released in 2012 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). That study also said that average tuition and compulsory fees for Canadian undergraduate students are estimated to rise almost 18 per cent over the next four years, from almost $6,200 in 2011-12 to over $7,300.

Although Townsend declined to say how much each student receives, the society has given out $117,810 to date.

The Honours Society Committee has eight members, a number which has been a relatively stable over the years, Townsend said. The group raises money by fundraising, and a large chunk comes from donations.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the Honour Society, which gives out tax receipts, can contact Townsend for more details at 250-752-1230 or e-mail townsell@telus.net. Visit www.qbhs92.wordpress.com for more information.