Hailey Brears, from Highland Secondary, and James Fazeli-Sinaki, from Mark R. Isfeld Senior Secondary, have each received $40,000 scholarships through Beedie Luminaries. File photos

Hailey Brears, from Highland Secondary, and James Fazeli-Sinaki, from Mark R. Isfeld Senior Secondary, have each received $40,000 scholarships through Beedie Luminaries. File photos

Two Comox Valley students receive $40,000 Beedie Luminaries scholarships

Two Comox Valley students will be able to concentrate more on studies and less on finances, thanks to Beedie Luminaries.

Hailey Brears, from Highland Secondary, and James Fazeli-Sinaki, from Mark R. Isfeld Senior Secondary, have each received $40,000 scholarships through the program.

The Beedie Luminaries program seeks out students who have not only demonstrated strong academic readiness, but who are also engaged in the world around them and have taken on life challenges and adversity with determination and optimism. These scholarships recognize students’ resilience and resolve while easing the financial pressure associated with post-secondary studies.

“Over the past three years, I have been blown away by the students who we have met through our program and can’t wait to see the impact that they will make in the world,” said Beedie Luminaries founder Ryan Beedie. “In getting to know their families, and recognizing the barriers single parents face, we saw the potential to expand our program to also include single parents looking to upgrade their education.”

The recipients receive either a $15,000 scholarship (two-year program) or a $40,000 scholarship (four-year program).

Both Brears and Fazeli-Sinaki have been accepted into UBC four-year programs.

Fazeli-Sinaki is taking the bachelor of commerce program at UBC Sauder School of Business, while Brears will be attending the UBC Okanagan campus, for her bachelor of arts in psychology.

“I was shell-shocked when I got the phone call,” Brears said.

She applied for the scholarship through GrantMe.ca, a Canadian scholarship “matching” company that helps students with the scholarship application process.

“So I found (Beedie Luminaries) through there,” said Brears. “I made an application, had to post a video on YouTube, then they called me for an interview… which I had in the back of my biology class in school. It was a little nerve-wracking but it was fun. Then in the middle of April they gave me a phone call to tell me I was part of the 2021 cohort.”

Brears is the first member from either side of her family to pursue a post-secondary education.

“I didn’t think I stood much of a chance, but then I got the call and wow, I have the first four years of university paid for,” Brears said. “It’s such a relief. My parents are divorced so we didn’t have much money set aside. It was always a hard time through high school with money – we were definitely financially unstable at times, so I was planning on taking out student loans … I was planning on working full-time during school, which I know would not have gone well. Now all I have to do is study.”

Fazeli-Sinaki had similar sentiments.

“Receiving this extraordinary scholarship means that I have a huge financial weight lifted from my shoulders and a group of extremely passionate people at Beedie Luminaries supporting me from day one to graduation day,” he said. “The benefits of my university education no longer come with a debt that I will have to spend my 20s paying off. I will work as hard as I possibly can to make sure that I exceed the expectations of those who have supported and believed in me.”

Fazeli-Sinaki comes from a single parent family, and said the prospect of a university education would not be realistic without this scholarship.

“My mom has raised me by herself since I was three and has been off work for a year and a half with a brain injury,” said Fazeli-Sinaki. “As much as I’ve always wanted to go to UBC, realistically, I wouldn’t have been able to, had I not received this scholarship. It would’ve been completely out of reach.”

This year’s Grade 12 recipients come from 65 high schools in 26 communities, with 35 per cent being the first in their immediate family to pursue post-secondary education and 75 per cent coming from single-parent or legal guardian families.

Beedie Luminaries launched in 2018, with a $50-million donation from Ryan Beedie, which coincided with his 50th birthday. To date, the program has awarded 335 scholarships to students across the province.

In addition to financial assistance of up to $40,000 per student, recipients are also paired with mentors, and offered paid work opportunities, Stay on Track student support, invitations to special events and access to the Beedie Luminaries online community.

Incoming Grade 12 students and single parents who are interested in applying to be part of next year’s cohort are encouraged to follow Beedie Luminaries on social media or visit beedieluminaries.ca. The application period for the 2022 cohort will open in fall 2021.

-With files from Beedie Luminaries

ALSO: Comox Valley student wins top French immersion honour


terry.farrell@blackpress.ca
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