This summer, student Angela Beam has been busy working as an officer in Assiniboine Community College's Aboriginal Services.
In the midst of her
busy schedule, she
received some wonderful news.
The 4.4 grade point average student was chosen as the first ever senior college student in Manitoba to receive the national Garfield Weston Merit Scholarship.
This award is worth more than $12,000 and includes a reimbursement for her
past year's tuition and the waiving of tuition fees for the remainder of her
"The most important part of the award that doesn't get as much credit as I think it should is the summer programming money that you have access to.
So, for next summer, if I come up with a program or an initiative or something to further my education or something in the community that I want to do, the Garfield Weston scholarship will fund that program to get it off to a start," says Beam
So, I see myself as an advocate for cultural equality," says Beam
, who adds that the two cultures share the concepts of respect and hard work, which has helped her
family integrate elements of both backgrounds.
I was just with them in class, helping them with life skills, their homework, just being a friend, on a day-to-day basis, when I had a spare spot during the day, after school or on the weekend, when we did camping trips," says the 23-year-old Beam
, explaining that her
motivation was triggered by the fact that many of these needy teens were aboriginal, living in negative environments, and lacked support from their peers.
"That just made me realize that there's the definite need for somebody to help out that group of people," continues Beam
, who worked with these students for three years.
"If I could be there to offer a bit of support and teach some of those kids, maybe it would help with the self-esteem that they lacked.
They needed that extra boost, a friend to be there, somebody who would listen."
After high school, Beam worked in retail and continued to volunteer.
Along with making a commitment to be a regular blood donor with the Canadian Blood Services, to help out family members and friends who need transfusions to survive, she also became a youth advisor.
In this capacity, she
assessed the needs in regards to recreation, education, employment for youth, for the Southwest region of the Manitoba Métis Federation
This was a springboard to the role of chair of cultural education, teaching traditional crafts and the Michif language - a mixture of French, Plains Cree and Ojibwa - the language of her
Jason Gobeil, the youth network co-ordinator for the Southwest Métis Youth Association, has worked with Beam in various committees focusing on Métis youth.
She's just a great person," says Gobeil, who adds that Beam
is always happy to share Métis traditions, like teaching the language or making bannock or crafts, with children and teens.
I'm always doing some volunteer work, but I knew education would be that step needed to completing those goals," says Beam
, who began in the Applied Counselling program, fine-tuning interpersonal skills to be able to meet, understand and empathize with people.
"But, I wanted to take it to another level.
The aboriginal studies weren't so much a part of that program.
So by taking Aboriginal Community Development, I could learn the importance of the social aspects."
Last academic year, ACC instructor Linda Dustan taught Beam in the Aboriginal Community Development program.
Even though Beam
has tackled two major fields of interest - aboriginal community development as well as applied counselling - at ACC
has made the time to continue her
volunteerism in the community at large - in Métis-related activities and with the Dual Recovery program - as well as within her