Parksville Student Receives $5,000 Pieter de Reuver Foundation Award

July 18, 2014 - 3:00am

Parksville resident and Vancouver Island University (VIU) student Connie Graham will enter her third year towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and First Nations Studies with the help of a $5,000 Scholarship of Excellence from the Pieter de Reuver Foundation.

“It’s a really hefty scholarship, enough to cover my tuition for a full year plus at least one semester’s worth of books,” said Graham, who was pleased to accept the scholarship from Pieter de Reuver and his partner Salud Espiritu on a beautiful summer day recently at Rathtrevor Beach, while her three young children played nearby.

Graham moved to Parkville six years ago with her family, deciding it was the ideal community to raise their children, ages five, seven and eight. Working with her husband in their landscaping and gardening business, she made the decision to return to school to chart a new career path.

“I decided if I am going to go back to school, I may as well go for something that I actually enjoy for the sake of enjoying it, and get ready for a career that’s related to it,” she said.

Graham was chosen for the scholarship based on the combination of outstanding academic achievement, community service and leadership – all qualities she has shown in her studies and activities outside of class, according to VIU professors who supported her application.

Geography professor Jeff Lewis noted Graham’s active involvement in VIU’s student-led Awareness of Climate Change through Education and Research (ACER) group, of which he is a faculty advisor.

“Connie has taken an active role in the group, speaking at local high schools and showing demonstrations at annual symposia and events on campus,” Dr. Lewis said. “She recently created and presented a shortened version of the ACER presentation to one of the Anthropology classes, a presentation she designed specifically for university social science students.”

Also active in student governance, Graham was elected to the VIU Students’ Union (VIUSU), and is the Student Representative on the Faculty of Social Sciences for the 2014-15 school year.

As Graham progresses through the BA program in VIU’s Faculty of Social Sciences, she is honing in on possibilities for a future career related to her degree.

During a skills development workshop with VIUSU this year, Graham made a connection that may lead to a career path that combines her education and passion for social change.

“I discovered I really like lobbying, and with First Nations Studies training, I might be able to go into something like that after graduating.”

In celebration of the VIU’s 75th anniversary in 2010, Pieter de Reuver established 75 $1,000 scholarships available to students from a wide range of faculties. Wanting to ensure he was still supporting the Oceanside community, he aimed the scholarships and awards at Oceanside area students. If there weren’t any who fit those criteria then they would be open to all VIU students. He established the $5,000 scholarship in the spring of 2013; Graham is the second recipient.



Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443 C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

Tags: In the Community

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