December 19, 2018 - 9:45am
Since 1919, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) has worked to improve the status of women and promote all aspects of education. In honour of the organization’s 100th anniversary, the CFUW’s Nanaimo chapter is establishing a new scholarship at Vancouver Island University (VIU).
The CFUW Nanaimo Ocean Sciences/Marine Biology Celebration Award CFUW 100th Anniversary award will provide an annual scholarship of $2,000 to a woman in her third or fourth year of studies in a program related to ocean sciences, marine biology or fisheries and aquaculture, with preference going to an Indigenous student. The latest award brings the total amount of scholarship money the CFUW gives out to VIU students each year to $8,500.
“Education is the key to a life well-lived,” says Susan Murphy, CFUW Past President. “As our members have embraced the concept of growing our endowment, and had the chance to meet the young women who have won our awards, we have witnessed the real-life impact of our vision of education.”
“A big part of our mission is to advocate for higher education for women and girls,” adds Roberta Veenstra, CFUW Nanaimo Scholarship Chair. “We recognize the financial and societal barriers that women often face in accessing higher education. Our endowment ensures the next generation of female scholars has the funds to access the education they want.”
Veenstra says this new award celebrates not only the 100th anniversary of their national organization, but also a more localized program that CFUW Nanaimo members founded in 1969, an educational program called Life Between the Tides. For several weeks each spring until 2017, club volunteers presented on intertidal marine life to groups of elementary school students in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District using live animals collected at local beaches.
“This would have been the 50th anniversary of that program, and the Ocean Sciences award commemorates it as well,” says Veenstra.
The CFUW Nanaimo endowment started more than 15 years ago with a donation of $25,000, which was then matched by the VIU Foundation. Over the years, the Foundation has continued to support the group to grow the endowment to its current ability to support six scholarships, awards and bursaries per year. Since 2000, more than $60,000 has been distributed to VIU students in CFUW’s name. In honour of this relationship, CFUW Nanaimo recently presented the Foundation with a certificate of recognition in thanks for the support over the years.
“We feel it is important to recognize the people who don’t normally get recognized,” explains Veenstra. “All the staff at the Foundation we’ve ever interacted with are dedicated to furthering the education of students. Their dedication to what they are doing really reflects our own values back to us.”
Susie Caswell, VIU’s Advancement Manager, Donor Relations, admires the dedication of CFUW Nanaimo members.
“They have an incredible passion to support students, to make a difference,” she says. “Their slogan is ‘The power of women working together’ and that really says it all. Their efforts create such an impact and we really enjoy working with them. They truly like to be a part of the university community – and they are."
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University