Roberta Bondar Scholarship recipients announced

Matt Gardner
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The YWCA Prince Albert and SaskPower have announced the latest recipients of their annual Roberta Bondar Scholarship.

Prince Albert resident Sara Grassick, 18, and Birch Hills resident Lisa Tilford, 17, both received the $1,000 scholarship, which seeks to provide support for young women pursuing study in scientific, technical and trades-related fields.

“We didn’t have any applicants last year,” YWCA Regional Newcomers Centre manager Amanda Parenteau said. “So this year we’ve given out two because we had to give out last year’s as well.”

To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be female, either graduating or graduated from a school in the Prince Albert area and enrolled in a post-secondary program for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Aside from their stellar marks in school -- Parenteau described the two women as “academically outstanding” -- the selection of Grassick and Tilford was based on the essays they submitted as part of their scholarship applications.

“Our essay question this year was about how to engage women in trades and how to get them involved and getting into the scientific programming or technical trades to fill that shortage of trade workers in Saskatchewan and across Canada,” Parenteau said.

“Both of them submitted their essays regarding that and they were fabulous … There was a panel of side people that all agreed that they were the best answers to the essay.”

Each essay examined the barriers to women entering the trades or scientific and technical fields, as well as potential solutions. In addition, both women pointed to positive female role models in their fields.

Grassick’s essay, Ending the Drought with Women in Trades and Science, noted the prevalence of women in science working in the Prince Albert area.

Both of them submitted their essays ... and they were fabulous. Amanda Parenteau

Among the science teachers at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School -- the majority of whom are female -- Grassick pointed to her mother, who teaches chemistry, as a particular source of inspiration.

Meanwhile, Tilford’s essay, How To Encourage Women to Pursue Trades and Scientific Programs, noted that her two older sisters were both chemical engineers. Following their example, Tilford plans to pursue her own career in engineering.

Parenteau phoned both Grassick and Tilford last week to inform them that they had received the scholarship.

“I was really excited,” Grassick said. “I worked really hard on the scholarship -- like the essay -- and just to find out that it was going to pay off is really rewarding.”

Grassick plans to attend the University of Saskatchewan next year to pursue her bachelor’s degree for science in agriculture.

“I’ve lived on a farm my whole life and agriculture has always been a key theme,” she said. “I really think that I will excel and I will really enjoy it.”

Tilford was unavailable for comment on Friday.

In total, nine young women applied for the SaskPower/Roberta Bondar Scholarship this year, a decade after the inauguration of the scholarship.

“One of the things that we would really like to say is that we had a tremendous response this year and a number of applicants,” Parenteau said.

“We just wanted to thank everybody who applied and to definitely look at applying again next year, because we’re going to be doing this again next spring as well.”

Organizations: Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, University of Saskatchewan, SaskPower

Geographic location: Birch Hills, Saskatchewan, Canada

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