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Business graduate sets up award to celebrate perseverance
Okanagan College Media Release

A new student award at Okanagan College will celebrate the perseverance and determination needed to be successful in school.

Suzanne Newton completed her business degree at Okanagan College Penticton campus last year, and is now a College employee working as a Division Assistant in Advancement & Alumni.

Newton says she established the $1,000 annual award to recognize the challenges some people experience when returning to school, especially students who rely on student loans.

Suzanne Newton accepts the Bruce DeHart Award.It’s a challenge Newton knows well. Initially, she tried to work while going to school full time and raising her son. Juggling work, school and family landed her on academic probation. 

Once she realized she could not manage work and her studies she turned to student loans, which didn’t fully cover the costs of attending school.

This spurred Newton to begin applying for student scholarships and bursaries, which were instrumental in helping her achieve her goals. During her four-year degree, she received $15,000 in student awards, a major support that still brings tears to Newton’s eyes when she thinks about complete strangers helping her achieve her dreams.

“I know the crunch of relying on student loans and worrying about money,” says Newton. “When I saw other people were willing to invest in me and my future, I said to myself that one day I would be in a position to do the same for another student.”

The Suzanne Newton Perseverance Inspires Success Award will be available to any student on the Penticton campus. Applicants will be asked, “What have you had to overcome to be here?”

“It’s heartening to see people who’ve benefited from student awards go on to help other students,” says Anne Kirkpatrick, Okanagan College Foundation Interim Executive Director.

“This award recognizes the important role a donor plays in helping students be successful and we’re grateful to Suzanne for paying it forward.”  

Newton has advice for anyone questioning continuing school, which she acknowledges can be particularly difficult for mature students with families.

“Don’t just stop because you’ve hit a roadblock, very few students don’t hit roadblocks. Know that you can get through it and it will get better. I hope this award touches someone and gives them hope.”

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