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Td Scholarship Essay

Growing up in a small Inuit village in Nunavut, the world seemed small to Shelby Angalik. Books changed that for her.

The 18 year old will attend Brock University in the fall to study English literature with the help of a TD Scholarships for Community Leadership award of up to $70,000 from TD Bank Group.

“I live in a really isolated place so there wasn’t much to do here. I started reading for fun,” she says. “Reading helped me see there’s more to life than our little town.”

One of the reasons Angalik was chosen for the scholarship is her dedication to helping other youth in Arviat, Nunavut discover the world through the written word. She started a reading program for young people in both English and Inuktitut.

She gets as much out of the program as the participants, she says. It has helped her realize what she wants to do with her life.

“I want to become a librarian so I can come back and expand my reading program and help increase literacy,” she says, noting literacy rates in her community are low.

Reading helped me see there’s more to life than our little town.

In her winning scholarship essay, Angalik opens up about the social issues facing her Inuit community.

“I’ve seen many things that push me away from Arviat. Many people abuse drugs and alcohol, teenage pregnancy is a big issue here, there are more students dropping out than there are students who graduate, there are limited employment opportunities, and we’re struck with poverty and mental illness,” she writes.

But, she says there is also a lot to love about her hometown including its connection to Inuit culture and its connection to nature.

“I want to get out into the world and get a good education,” she writes. “So I can come back with more to offer.”

As part of the TD Scholarships for Community Leadership, Angalik is receiving up to $70,000 over four years for tuition and living expenses for post-secondary education. Recipients also have the chance to make lifelong connections through summer employment with TD, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities.

“Shelby is a great example of the emerging leaders the TD Scholarships for Community Leadership seeks to recognize and support. When Shelby saw challenges in her community, she stepped up to help create solutions – whether it was through leading a reading program to help improve literacy levels, volunteering in the library when the school lost its librarian, or taking an active role in the school drama productions that help community members deal with difficult issues,” says Jane Thompson, Executive Director, TD Scholarships for Community Leadership. “Shelby is the real deal, and we are delighted to support her studies at Brock and know she will be a huge asset wherever she goes after graduation.”

Angalik said she chose Brock because of its size and reputation.

“It is a small enough school and close knit. Plus, there are lots of activities,” she says.

Angalik is more excited than nervous to be leaving her community of 3,000 for a school of nearly 19,000.

“This is going to be the first time I’ll be living outside of Nunavut and on my own,” she says. “I can’t wait to leave for university.”

Angalik is one of 20 young Canadians from across the country to receive the 2016 TD Scholarships for Community Leadership, recognizing the meaningful and lasting difference they’ve made in their communities.

So is it about the charity, or is it about getting that lucrative scholarship? Or is it both, and is that necessarily a bad thing?

“I would say in the last five years . . . people are starting to alter their behaviour. You get ambitious Grade 10 students thinking, ‘What do I have to do to get the scholarship? I have to start a charity,’ ” explains Jane Thompson, executive director of the TD Canada Trust scholarship program, which offers several $70,000 scholarships to graduating high school students for community leadership.

“But my experience has been that the people who win these scholarships, they are doing the work they do because they couldn’t possibly do anything else. I think if the only thing that was driving them was the idea of a university scholarship, it’s a really hard way.”

For Quinton-Brown, who was featured in the Star as one of the top students with a 99 per cent average, a free ride through university was not his intention for starting Whitby’s first film festival, and founding Operation Humanity, a web-based network of school social justice groups.

“A lot of these interests that I was in, I was already involved in before I was even looking at scholarships,” explains Quinton-Brown, who had to turn down nearly $100,000 in scholarship money to accept the TD scholarship, which sets caps for its recipients in accepting additional offers.

“I think what makes a strong candidate in the race for scholarships will be genuine passion for what they’re doing. If passion is strategy, it isn’t a bad thing.”

Dev Aujla, a one-time super candidate himself, doesn’t see anything wrong with students strategizing to become competitive for these large full-funding scholarships, especially if it leads to community projects that have a positive impact.

He has authored the e-book titled Scholarship Training: A Definitive Guide to Winning Scholarships, and says he has coached several students to win over $250,000 in total scholarship money.

“At the end of the day, you have to do a lot of work to win a scholarship. You have to be doing it for the right reasons,” he says.

Liu, the U of T med student and a graduate of Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, agrees.

“People realize what it takes to get (a large scholarship) and want to work harder and better,” explains Liu, who also accepted the TD scholarship over other large university offers for his work starting SMARTS, a national youth science network.

“Regardless of what your motivations are, if students actually go through the process of getting involved and do things that make an impact, that alone makes it valuable. No matter what your intentions are, good stuff is going to come out from the work that you do.”

And that work doesn’t necessarily mean having to start charities from scratch, fundraising thousands of dollars, or becoming the next Craig Kielburger.

“There isn’t one type we’re looking for. There has been a trend lately for students to organize fundraisers, and that’s definitely not something we look for,” explains Franca Gucciardi, executive director of the Loran Award Merit Scholarship Foundation, which offers several $75,000 scholarships for high school students every year.

“Students always make assumptions (about what we’re looking for). I would say follow your passion, get involved, and if this is not what you’re about, there will be other scholarships.”


TD Canada Trust Scholarship for Community Leadership: $70,000

University of Toronto National Scholarship: $36,000

Queen’s Chancellor’s Award: $36,000

McGill Major Entrance Scholarship: $20,000

University of Ottawa Entrance Scholarship: $16,000

University of King’s College (University of Western Ontario) Entrance Scholarship: $14,000

TOTAL: $192,000


Average undergrad tuition: $4,917 (StatsCan)

Type of scholarships: financial need, marks-based, or merit (leadership, extracurricular activities etc.)

In 2007-08, before the economic meltdown, approximately $258 million in merit scholarships were distributed to incoming and current post-secondary students: $13 million from the federal government, $118 million from the provinces, $144 million from post-secondary institutions, and $8 million from the private sector (Source: Higher Education Strategy Associates and Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation).

Scholarshipscanada.com lists more than 23,896 scholarships in its database

Studentawards.com has more than 500,000 registered users to its website

Some 37 per cent of graduating university students report relying on scholarships to fund their studies, receiving an average of $2,815 (Canadian University Survey Consortium, 2009).

Only 5 per cent of Canadian students received full-funding scholarships for university in 2006 (StatsCan)

Compiled by Jasmeet Sidhu

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