Amber Fill said she was shocked when she received a life-altering phone call.
The South Kamloops secondary student won a $40,000 Beedie Luminaries scholarship that will cover the cost of her post-secondary education. The scholarships, handed out by real estate developer Ryan Beedie, recognize B.C. students who have faced financial hardships and demonstrate resiliency to follow their dreams, creativity and academic readiness.
The Grade 12 student, who graduated last week, was expecting to get rejected.
“I had mentally prepared myself that I wasn’t going to get it because I felt there’s so many incredible students, I don’t want to get my hopes up to be let down, but when I got the call I was like, ‘Are you sure?’” she said, laughing.
Fill has an impressive resume of her own that made her a winning candidate.
At South Kamloops, Fill headed a peer tutoring group, was a member of the Principal’s Council and started a breakfast program for low-income students. In the community, she recently organized a shoebox drive for the YWCA Emergency Women’s Shelter, is a member of the Kamloops Naturalist Club’s Next Generation Naturalists program and has for the past few years decorated the children’s ward at Royal Inland Hospital for Christmas.
“I spend most of my time doing volunteer work and tutoring students at my school,” Fill said.
She will receive $10,000 per year for four years and will be paired with a mentor and offered a paid summer internship opportunity.
“I’m really appreciative of the award because it doesn’t just look at the GPA (grade point average),” Fill said. “It looks at you as more of a person and they took a lot of time to get to know me and make sure that I was a good fit.”
To be eligible for the Beedie Luminaries scholarship, students must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, have a minimum grade average of 75 per cent, intend to attend one of 25 B.C. universities full time and demonstrate financial adversity.
Fill plans to pursue a double major in environmental studies and history, opting to attend the University of Victoria, as it will have a variety of options for the courses in which she is interested.
Fill moved to the Tournament Capital six years ago from England and hopes to call the provincial capital home this fall, but given the COVID-19 pandemic, she may be in Kamloops a little longer than expected.
“I very well could be doing my first year, or first day, at least, in my bedroom. But we’ll see,” Fill said, noting fall semester classes will all be online and she’s still waiting to hear if she will have a spot in student housing, which was capped at 40 per cent of capacity.
But COVID-19 has also led to Beedie Luminaries deciding to increase the total number of scholarships from 105 to 128 because of the pandemic’s impact on families and employment opportunities for young people and their parents.
Beedie Luminaries is a registered foundation and a non-profit society that helps promising British Columbian students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds overcome barriers to education.