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Four North Shore students receive ‘life-changing’ $40K Beedie Luminaries scholarships

'I have always greatly valued education, and to be able to continue learning with this amazing scholarship is a dream come true'
Beedie winners
North Shore graduates Anita Zamanigoha (top left) from West Vancouver Secondary, Faith Grant (bottom left) from Sutherland Secondary, Ava Naseri (top right) and Irina Lipnitskaya (bottom right) both from Carson Graham Secondary, were among the students chosen for the Beedie Luminaries Scholarships in 2021.

A weight has been lifted off the shoulders of four bright North Shore high school graduates this week who are among just over 100 students across British Columbia to receive a Beedie Luminaries scholarship.

The “life-changing” scholarships of up to $40,000 will mean the students will no longer have to worry about the financial stress of paying for their post-secondary education.

The foundation, which launched in November 2018, selects students who have not only achieved strong academic results but who are “engaged in the world around them and have taken on life challenges and adversity with determination and optimism.”

This year, West Vancouver property developer and philanthropist Ryan Beedie awarded $5.1 million in scholarships to 112 B.C. Grade 12 students as well as 15 single parents looking to pursue further education through his registered foundation and non-profit society.

North Shore graduates Ava Naseri and Irina Lipnitskaya from Carson Graham Secondary, Anita Zamanigohar from West Vancouver Secondary, and Faith Grant from Sutherland Secondary were among the students chosen.

For the applications, each of the students shared their experiences with financial adversity, how they’ve overcome challenges, maintained resilience and top grades in school, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. They also had to get creative and submit a video about themselves.

Receiving the scholarship is 'a dream come true'

Receiving the news that they’d been chosen was an emotional experience for the four girls, who shed a few tears of joy knowing they could now relax when it comes to the stress of affording the cost of their future education.

“I was so surprised,” Faith Grant said. “I was so excited. I started crying … and I called my mom right away.”

The 18-year-old said being a scholarship recipient meant the world to her, as she could now “spread her wings” and study political science at the University of Victoria, with a future goal of going to law school.

“Oh my gosh, it's everything,” she said. “It's honestly life-changing. I can't even express how much it means to me. It’s everything, because now I'm able to go to UVic, before I was planning on staying closer to home, but being able to move a little bit further from home I feel like I'll be able to gain independence, which is very important.”

Similarly, Anita Zamanigohar, who plans to study biomedical physiology at Simon Fraser University, was also blown away by receiving the scholarship.

“It was such a rush,” she said. “I just started crying when I found out.  Honestly, I thought the chances of me getting it were pretty slim, just because of how many people they accept in a year. But, when I got it, I just couldn't believe it.

“It means that I can get an education without having to worry about the financial aspects of things.”

For Ava Naseri, who will use her scholarship to study business in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, receiving financial assistance “truly means the world.”

“I was so happy,” she said. “It was a really great feeling. I have always greatly valued education, and to be able to continue learning with this amazing scholarship is a dream come true.”

Ava, who believes it was her strong leadership skills that set her apart from other applicants,  encouraged the next round of students to get creative with their video submissions and to really shine a light on all things they’re proud of from their high school life.

'It's not just a scholarship'

The graduates noted that they were also equally as excited to be a part of the Beedie Luminaries support network. In addition to financial assistance, 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.

“I'm just really looking forward to having the mentors and knowing I’ll have such a solid support system is just really reassuring, I feel very supported, which is great,” Faith said.

“I love how it's not just about the money, and how they also have like a sense of community within the program as well,” Anita added.

“It's not just a scholarship, Ava said. “It's like a family, a community. And I'm super excited to be joining their community,” Ava continued.

This is the third year that Beedie Luminaries has given scholarships to high school students and the first year that it has awarded them to single parents. To date, the program has awarded 335 scholarships.  

This year’s Grade 12 recipients come from 65 high schools in 26 communities across B.C., 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, according to the foundation.

“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,” Beedie said in a release. “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 15 recipients of the single parent award are embarking on their post-secondary studies at eight different universities, colleges, and trade schools across British Columbia.

Meanwhile, the North Shore students are happily thinking about embarking on their new academic journeys and embracing new experiences.

“Being able to go away from home will just be a nice, refreshing start,” Faith said. “I have a really great support system at home, but I feel like it's really important to be able to spread my wings and gain some independent experiences.”

The feeling was mutual for Anita.

“I'm just really excited about starting a whole new chapter of my life,” she said. “I'm really looking forward to getting out into the world and exploring a little bit.”

To the foundation, the girls were eternally grateful.

“I would just thank them, like, so, so much,” Anita said.

“They changed my whole future.”

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. The application period for the 2022 cohort will open in fall 2021.

Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.