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This article was published 11/6/2021 (227 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Grade 12 student at Westwood Collegiate with her mind set on a career in education has earned a $1,000 scholarship from a neighbourhood politician.
Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) surprised Abbey Howard, 17, with his Student
Community Leadership Award via Zoom alongside her mother Moonyeen Howard and Westwood vice-principal Sarah James.
"It was pretty awesome, because that’s going towards school and what I really want to do in the future," Abbey said. "It was really exciting because it’s a little boost that’s going to help me get there."
Klein’s scholarship will benefit to a high school senior who plans to pursue a post-secondary career after graduation. This is the first year it has been awarded. Applicants sent essays detailing academic excellence, extracurriculars and volunteer work to Klein’s office.
Abbey has volunteered with her school, an ultimate frisbee team, the Manitoba Métis Federation, and has raised funds for Siloam Mission, all while keeping her grades up.
When she wasn’t studying or donating her time, Abbey juggled volleyball, basketball and baseball tournaments.
"We’re really proud of all of her achievements through her education within our Westwood family of schools," her mother said. "She just keeps us smiling and persevering through these tough times, keeping her chin up and trying to keep her friends going in the same direction."
Among others, James recognized Abbey’s dedication and wrote a letters of recommendation to accompany her scholarship application.
There were so many (applications). I wish we could have picked them all," Klein said. "It was a delight. I’m looking forward to doing this again next year. I think we have to encourage and do more to support our young people."
Klein’s own childhood sparked the idea for the leadership award, he said.
"I know there’s a number of students that are not in the position - or their families or not in the position - to help them reach post-secondary levels. Grants are one of the best ways to be able to realize your dream of reaching post-secondary," he said. "It eliminates a reason not to go."
Abbey will start classes at the University of Winnipeg this fall with the hopes of becoming a phys-ed teacher, and later in her career, a guidance counsellor.
Klein’s office also set aside a $100 scholarship for a student attending middle school in the area.
"It goes to a student that’s exhibited community service leadership or helping his or her fellow students," Klein said.
The money for the awards came from the budget city councillors are allotted for cellphones and stationery, Klein said.
"I don’t need taxpayers to pay for my cellphone," he said. "I just felt (the scholarship) would be a better use of funds, giving it back to our young people and encouraging them to get engaged."
He hopes awards from a politician - regardless of affiliation - will inspire youth to consider a career in politics or spark an interest in becoming engaged in government.
Completing her last year of high school online was tough, Abbey said but she’s thankful for her supportive teachers, who "made the best of it" and always helped her out.
This summer, Abbey will be working at the Manitoba Métis Federation, packing hampers and arranging drop-offs.
Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at email@example.com