During the busy season of giving, an Okanagan College student and father of four is taking the time to express his gratitude to donors who have brought the gift of education back into his life this year.
Steven Steed is among the 866 students throughout the region who collectively received more than $1 million in scholarships and bursaries provided by Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation over the past year—many of which are made possible through the generous support of donors.
For Steed, the $2,500 he received between two Okanagan College entrance awards and the John and Nancy Woodworth Award means he can finally reach for the career that has long been a dream. Having successfully completed upgrades at the college over the past year, he will begin the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2016.
“I’m so thankful to the generous donors who make these awards possible,” said Steed. “These are people who didn’t know anything about me, had never heard my story, and yet they cared enough to invest in my future.”
A certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Steed’s decision to continue his education and become a nurse was inspired by his sons Nicholas and Cameron, both of whom were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes before the age of 2.
“My children are a huge source of inspiration,” explained Steed. “Their life is not easy, nor is it fair, but I hope one day to be able to provide other people with the same quality of care our family has received over the years from the nurses and doctors in Kelowna.”
Helping other children and their families cope with diabetes has become a mission for Steed; he and his wife April have been active volunteers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since shortly after Nicholas’ diagnosis in 2004.
“I am passionate about helping people. To have experienced support like this for my education and to have people wanting to help me with my future is very motivating.”
Steed shared the story of his journey back to college as a mature student with a crowd of more than 200 students and donors at the Kelowna campus award ceremony on November 19.
Of the $1 million given out this year, Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation handed out more than $325,000 to students at fall awards ceremonies in Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon this November. Another $75,000 in support went out to students at the Salmon Arm campus awards ceremony in June, bringing the grand total awarded at this year’s ceremonies to over $400,000.
The annual fall award ceremonies provide a timely boost of support for students as the holidays approach. The ceremonies also bridge another gap by connecting students with the individuals and organizations behind the awards.
“We are reminded especially at this time of year what a truly phenomenal impact community support has on our students,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “On behalf of Okanagan College, I would like to congratulate all of this year’s award recipients and extend our deepest thanks to all of the donors brightening futures by supporting education in our region.”