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Hard-working SLC student receives Brockville Women's Network scholarship award

2011-01-31

EMC News - St. Lawrence College student Karen McIlmoyle was presented with the Brockville Women's Network Cunningham/Lor Scholarship Award of $2,000 on Thursday, Jan. 13 by Carrie Hands, chair of the scholarship selection committee.

"I'm dreaming it, I'm living it," says McIlmoyle. "I'm honoured that I got chosen. Actually, I feel like I'm living the dream because I've worked so hard to get there and now I'm there. The motto for St. Lawrence College is Dream It, Live It. I'm living that dream."

McIlmoyle is a prime example of an individual who has a goal and is determined to take steps towards her ambition of working in a hospital or a nursing home.

"When I decided to go back to school, I knew I couldn't just quit my full-time job, (maintenance job at the Brockville and Area YMCA) and I worked seven part-time jobs," says McIlmoyle. "I knew after six years of being there I was not doing anything above and beyond what I was doing, so I had to make a change."

McIlmoyle's part-time jobs have included a newspaper route, cleaning several houses, clothing alterations, giving sewing lessons, babysitting, house sitting and work at the Brockville Arts Centre.

"I applied because I worked so hard to get this far and I have done a lot within the community, not necessarily with organizations, but all by myself," tells McIlmoyle. "I felt that I met the criteria. The financial scholarship ($2,000) made such a difference to me, it takes the financial stress off me that I'll be able to focus better on my studies. I'm taking personal support worker, a one-year program. I'm in the second semester now and the teachers are fabulous. It's all nurses that are teaching."

The Cunningham/Lor Scholarship Award is granted to women 25 years or older who are commencing or furthering their education - full-time or part-time - at a college, university or other recognized Ministry of Education and Training facility.

The Brockville Women's Network believes in women supporting women and this is one way the organization does it.

"We award twice a year, the spring and fall semester," says Hands. "Candidates can apply anytime. They can go online to brockvillewomensnetwork.com and the application is there to fill out. We do require the proof of student status."

McIlmoyle felt the hardest part of completing the application was summarizing the activities she does in the community or at school that will further the goal of 'Women Supporting Women', the Brockville Women's Network motto.

In addition to being a student, Hands indicates that the applicant should possess community volunteerism.

"It's an overall picture of our recipient as to how involved they are in the community and it speaks of their character."

Regarding school involvement, the Brockville Women's Network likes to see the applicant participating in the school environment as a member of a student council or through mentoring another student.

"We are awarding to ladies that are 25 or older and there are a lot of younger people out there and I'm sure that Karen mentors to those younger people," adds Hands.

Additionally, the personal information asked on the application is age, proof of acceptance at an educational institution, program enrolled in, length of program, summary of community and school involvement, career goals and two signed letters of reference, one from a teacher and the second from a person familiar with the applicant's volunteerism.

"We interview with each committee member asking one question, like why are you going to school, why did you choose this course, what is your dream, what would you like to see in the future, that kind of question," tells Hands.

There are five Brockville Women's Network members on the scholarship selection committee, which includes past president Claudia Seed, scholarship chair Carrie Hands, members Jennifer Jackson-Fevens, Rosanne Richards and Deborah Souder. The term on this committee is two years.

As for the $2,000 cheque, it is sent to the educational institution that the recipient is attending to be put on account for the individual's use.

To date more than $35,000 has been granted by this women's group.

"We are so thrilled we are able to help support another woman," says Hands. "We are very fortunate that often our recipients will come back to us. Our fundraiser is an auction every December and one of our past recipients came to the auction, brought something to the auction to help raise funds and also bid at the auction, which I thought was absolutely stellar."

Another way that funds are raised for this scholarship is in memoriam and donations.

"One of our difficulties with the scholarship is public awareness and that they know this is available," says Hands. "Now, if they go on the website at St. Lawrence College they will find it and it is usually word of mouth. We like to award somebody within Leeds and Grenville."

"Others should definitely apply for this scholarship," adds McIlmoyle. "Because there are so many in my class who wouldn't apply because they do not do volunteer work, but volunteering is so important as you get so much out of it. To be involved in an organization like Brockville Women's Network, women helping women, it would be prestigious. I want to be a member, but I don't know how much time I have at this point."

The Brockville Women's Network meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Brockville Country Club. Guests are welcome to attend two meetings per year. The dinner meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with networking and the meal is served at 6:30 p.m., at a cost of $28 for members and $35 for guests.

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