Sarah Stenzel considers herself fortunate to be the inaugural recipient of the Sunshine Coast Resident Award, an annual bursary in the amount of $4,000 established by anonymous donors to provide financial assistance for local students pursuing studies at Capilano University.
“I am so grateful for their [the donors’] generosity. When I found I had been chosen to receive the award, I was ecstatic. It will come in so handy with my debt,” she said.
Stenzel grew up in Roberts Creek. She went to school at Roberts Creek Elementary and later Chatelech Secondary in Sechelt. With the help of this award she’s able to pursue her passion — a degree in education.
Stenzel, who completed an early childhood program and worked in the childcare field for more than 11 years, returned to post-secondary schooling last year to earn her bachelor of arts. Her dream is to teach elementary school on the Coast.
The bottom line for Stenzel is that education is important “no matter what age you’re at.”
And while it’s a financial challenge to return to studying full-time, the sacrifice is well worth it to Stenzel. She is quick to credit both her unknown benefactors and the university’s staff for making her studies possible.
“I really enjoy Cap U. They’re so helpful and supportive to anyone. The teachers are pretty much on call through email or phone calls. I would really recommend Cap U to anyone going on with his or her education,” she enthused.
Stenzel was presented with her award at the annual Capilano University Awards/Alumni and Volunteer Recognition event on April 17, one of many presented at the reception.
After a traditional welcome by Sechelt Nation member Andy Johnson, MC Jean Bennett, dean of the Sunshine Coast campus, recounted the commitment of the university to its students and volunteers both past and present, a message reinforced in the remarks of university president Dr. Kris Bulcroft.
Highlights of the past year for the president were the opening of the film animation centre in North Vancouver and the conversion of the Coast library to a learning common. Bulcroft also spoke of the new Abor-iginal gathering place and the student union gathering place. Social spaces, she said, are an incredibly important part of learning.
John Field, head of the Sunshine Coast Award Committee and a member of the adult basic education and science faculty, presented several other awards to deserving students including two awards to Jeyna Plowman, an adult basic education student.
Speaking on behalf of the donors, Fran Miller of the Hopkins Branch of St. Mary’s Hospital Health Care Auxiliary spoke of the intent behind her organization’s award. This year the hard-working members of her branch were able to donate two $1,500 awards to local Cap U students going into the health care field. Miller said that impetus for the awards came from long-time member Betty Kiloh, who urged her friends to consider donations to the award in lieu of birthday and anniversary gifts.
An ongoing huge success story at Cap U is the Eldercollege program. Over the past year, 700 students age 55 or better took part in 27 courses. Other valuable services the university provided to the Sunshine Coast include continuing education and the English as a second language settlement assistance program. Partnering with 13 organizations on the Coast led to 68 ESL students being helped by 40 tutors.
Speaking for the programs, Cap alumna and volunteer Joan Higgs said the beauty of the program is in its structure.
“There is no teacher/student hierarchy; they are equals,” she explained.
Higgs went back to school as a mature student and went on to earn a BA and MA from Simon Fraser University, so she finds volunteering to help other folks achieve what she has very fulfilling.
Both Stenzel and Plowman spoke on behalf of the students at the event. Each gave a heartfelt address on the value of the award to their education.
Founded in 1977, the Sunshine Coast campus is home to several successful programs including mountain biking and diving. For more information on the local campus, visit their website at www.capilanou.ca/sunshine/ or call 604-885-9310.