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When 36-year-old Cara Magas decided to enter the demanding Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at Okanagan College, she made herself a promise.
“I said if I was going to further myself, I was not going to take anything away from my children.”
Today Magas’ children (age 16 and 13) haven’t missed a step in their competitive sports, and as a single parent, she’s proven herself a winner too.
This Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College, Magas will be among 144 students picking up a total of 184 scholarships and bursaries worth $159,000.
Magas will be receiving two of those awards – a $1,000 bursary from the Canadian Federation of University Women – Kelowna chapter, and a $1,000 award from the B.C. Lung Association.
“The kids get nervous that I’m showing them up in school,” laughed Magas, who plans to work in the recovery room or surgery, once she becomes a Registered Nurse, and later gets her Master’s degree.
“I just tell my 16-year-old that she’s going to have to do well so that she can get awards just like me,” she said. “These awards allow me to breathe a little more.”
Jason Boyd is another student who’s breathing a little easier. The 31-year-old will also be picking up two $1,000 awards – the TD Bank Financial Group Bursary for Business Administration, and the CGA-BC Educational Foundation Fund Award.
Now in his third year of the Bachelor of Business Administration program, specializing in accounting, Boyd’s head for numbers has helped him achieve a 90 per cent GPA, plus manage the financial demands of a full house.
“It’s going to help quite a bit,” Boyd said. “My wife works, but even then money can get tight when you have four children to care for and you’re living off student loans. These bursaries will help me cover next year’s tuition.”
Boyd, who ran his own business before serving in the military for a few years, plans to take the CMA Strategic Leadership Program, with a goal of working in finance management in the public technology field.
“Something like Microsoft,” he said.
Central Okanagan Regional Dean Heather Schneider said students like Boyd and Magas exemplify what students can do for both their academic and personal lives when they make the decision to obtain post-secondary education.
“That single decision – to go further their education – has the ability to change everything, if they want it to,” she said. “Each one of the students being awarded on Thursday has made an outstanding contribution to their own future by applying themselves to their studies, and acting as a role model for others.”
So far this year 281 Okanagan College students have been recognized with awards at ceremonies held at each of the campuses for a total of 360 awards worth $324,420.
“These four campus events represent only a portion of the awards granted each year to deserving Okanagan College students,” said Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “Last year the Okanagan College Foundation gave out just over $700,000 in scholarships and bursaries.”
The Okanagan College Foundation was established in 2000 to assist Okanagan College in building endowments and other strategic priorities, including raising awareness about the economic and social benefits of Okanagan College.