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Scholarships, Achievement and “…it’s kind of like Pearson turned my life upside down but, you know, it’s okay!”

Pearson College UWC students are again demonstrating their excellence and distinction as they fan out across the world to pursue further education and changemaker projects this fall and beyond.

According to a preliminary report compiled by Universities Counsellor Becky Halverson, of the 89 recently graduated students — PC Year 44 – 84 have indicated the post-secondary institutions they plan on attending this fall or in 2020. More than 50 of these students – 60 per cent — have been awarded scholarships and/or financial aid for the institution they plan to attend totaling close to $3 million CDN per year.

Halverson points out some students received the highest possible awards from their respective post-secondary institutions, underlining their academic and personal achievements. She adds that total scholarship/financial aid figures will be higher as more information becomes available.

“We are incredibly proud of these young leaders and changemakers who will be sharing their diverse perspectives and commitment to positive change with peoples and at institutions across the globe,” says President and Head of College Désirée McGraw.

So far, 26 students plan on attending Canadian institutions as diverse as the University of British Columbia (UBC campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna) to the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg to Université Laval in Quebec City. The most popular institutions are UBC and the University of Toronto. While most are Canadians, this cohort includes international students from China, Mauritius and Oman.

About 44 per cent, or 39 students, currently plan on attending university in the United States. While these students come from all over the world, some continue to avoid the U.S. due to political circumstances as well as greater recognition and choice related to bridging years and home university options.

Halverson observes that the U.S. remains the most reliable destination because the Davis UWC Scholars Program creates an incentive for American colleges to admit UWC graduates and meet their full financial need. The two most popular destinations are University of Oklahoma, which provides more Davis scholarships than any other partner and University of Florida — both state institutions are generous, supportive and provide a wide variety of academic programs. Overall, the list of American universities and colleges that Pearson students plan to attend this year is increasingly varied — an outcome that supports Pearson’s research and strong university visits program.

More students plan on attending European (including United Kingdom) institutions this year – about 19 per cent, up from 10 percent in 2018. Destinations include the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, Leiden University College in the Netherlands and Sciences Paris – Reims campus (SciencesPo) in France. Other international destinations, pending finalization, include Singapore and Australia.

Thirteen students (15 per cent) plan to take bridge (“gap”) years, including at least three who have deferred their university acceptance to Sept. 2020, three who will be completing home country military service and those planning to apply to institutions for Sept. 2020 entry or later.

As of the preliminary report, three students plan on participating in the Global Citizenship Year Program, two with Katimavik while others have shared plans to volunteer with various NGOs, internships and to  work and travel.

We caught up with a random selection of Year 44 students during Pearson’s New Alumni Program, Alumni for Life, in late May to chat with them about their summer and future plans:

Antonio, Honduras

I’m going to Earlham College in Indiana. Two students from Pearson this year are going to Earlham so there’ll be a bit of a support system there. I’ll be studying math, I hope to be a math major, and probably something also related to economics. When I came to Pearson, I was thinking I might study to become an engineer, but my experience here helped me realize that math is my thing and I should stick to it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s good – I’m looking forward to it.

Daniel, Venezuela

I’m going back home to see my family and work a little bit and try to better understand what’s going on in my country right now. I’ll also see my dad who lives in Spain. I’m happy to be going back home but it’s interesting to be going home when home is Venezuela, for sure. I’m going to study economics at Trinity College. I think Pearson confirmed that I wanted to serve and that I wanted to do public service and I think economics is one of those ways in which you can learn how to do that. Pearson definitely set me on that path — Samuel Perez – hands down!  and Adriana Martinez, and many of my teachers and other adults on campus, as well as many of my peers, were influences. I had a chance to attend many events – these told me that Canada values young people, that people care about its institutions, its freedom, its democracy and there’s a lot to learn about that. Things go awry when we don’t care about them and it’s the same for democracy and society.

Ernestos, Greece

I’m staying here in Canada for a bit longer after I graduate. I’m doing the New Alumni Program then I plan on visiting some friends both in Canada (Toronto and Montreal) and Europe. I’m not quite sure what I’m doing next year – I’m taking a gap year. I’m planning on travelling around and reading because I feel I still have space to grow prior to going to university and I want to do things I won’t be able to do once I enroll in university. My experience at Pearson has been very intense and interesting. I have grown a lot as a person, I have learned so much!

Eylül, Turkey

I’m going to be travelling a little bit to see some of my friends in Eastern Europe and I’m going to visit both sets of grandparents in Turkey. Next fall I’ll be attending Earlham College in Indiana. I’m not sure yet what I want to study – I know it’ll be economics, something around that, and it will also be around international politics. Pearson helped me to add more filters, be aware of what is going on around me, and helped me develop a sense of greater empathy. I had so many role models around me who inspired me to do things and encouraged me to not stop until I achieved what I wanted to do. I think it was a community of people who were whole-heartedly with us.

Hieu, Vietnam

I’m going back home for the summer and volunteer for IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and also to organize a summer camp for children – in the grade 6 to 9 age range. After that,  I’m going to Middlebury College in Vermont. I really like neuroscience and I found a passion for Buddhism at Pearson College UWC, so I want to connect neuroscience with that. I feel that at Pearson I realized who I am and what I would like to do with my life as a person…and how I can realize the mission and the road that I will take in the future.

Jamal, Tanzania

I’ve contacted some organizations back home that I worked with last summer, so I think I’m going to do some volunteer work over the summer. Then, I think I’m going to take a beautiful break and then I’ll start preparing myself for university. I’m going to Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I’m undecided right now about focusing on neuroscience or medical engineering so that’s something I’ll figure out during my first year. When I came to Pearson, I knew I wanted to go into biology, I just didn’t know what. Doing biology at Pearson I started to realize I was more interested in neuroscience and the technology part of biology, so I guess at Pearson is where I made these choices. Christie and Emily really influenced me –Christie was my first-year biology teacher and Emily was my second-year teacher.

Joy, India

This summer I’m preparing for university and just getting ready for this transition. I plan on volunteering in my community (Delhi) – I’m looking for opportunities right now and hoping to return to a place where I did my Extended Home Service last summer. It’s a centre for helping kids who don’t have the means for education; it requires volunteer teachers to help – it was a very good experience last year. I’m going to the University of Oklahoma to study economics and linguistics. I was interested in economics before, but I got interested in linguistics here because I was exposed to so many different languages and learned about languages, the main crux behind why languages differ and about patterns of pronunciations. I felt my experience at Pearson was really life-changing — without these friendships, I wouldn’t have found these connections with people if I’d had stayed back in my hometown. Being at Pearson helped me understand different points of view, to challenge and reconcile those.

Kaceja, Canada-BC

This summer I’m going home to Prince Rupert. My plan is to really take a break from everything, work on some of my personal skills and visit people who are really important to me. I really like art and drawing but the IB demands meant I wasn’t able to take art at Pearson so I really want to spend time working at that and improving my skills before I go off to university…in case I don’t get the chance to do that for a while. I’m going to the University of Florida which is pretty exciting for me because I’ve never been east of Alberta. I’m going to be studying a program called design and computer science, so it merges the things I like a lot which is art and engineering, math and sciences. I don’t know if Pearson really changed what I wanted to do but it definitely changed who I am as a person. Before, I was much more shy and I had a hard time speaking up. Pearson allowed me to become a more vocal person and to speak my mind. It helped make me more confident and say what I think and to address the things I don’t think are right without being afraid to do so or being afraid of what people will say or think if I do.

Kamene, Kenya

For this summer, I’m organizing a conference with my friend Aisha from Nigeria. We got a grant from Go Make a Difference (a UWCx Initiative) to organize a conference on mental health and consent in June (likely in the Nairobi area but still working on logistics). Then probably, I might do Kule because I did that last year. In the fall, I’m going to the University of Richmond and I’m hoping to study women, gender and sexuality studies. I might double that with politics, philosophy and economics and law. (Why the interest?) When I came to Pearson, I was going to study the sciences, but I decided to study philosophy and sciences. For me, I particularly like studying female philosophers like Simone de Beauvoir, Ayn Rand…I found for myself that I was keen to study female philosophers in comparison to study the male philosophers. At Pearson, you meet women from different countries who’ve gone through so much and then you realize that you all have many similarities. I was going to go to architecture school in Kenya and then I came to Pearson and everything changed – it’s kind of like Pearson turned my life upside down but, you know, it’s okay! I love where I am right now – I’m really excited!

Marien, Nicaragua

I’m going home to Managua to spend time with my family and friends and prepare for university. People say the political situation in Nicaragua is calming down but actually there is a lot of “under-table” stuff still going on (Amaya Coppens, UWC alumna and UWC Nicaragua national committee member was recently freed from prison). After summer, I’m attending the University of Oklahoma – joining six of my other Pearson College friends – we’re really happy about it! I’m doing a major in journalism with some international studies. Journalism has been my passion since I was a child – I come from a family that is full of journalists and teachers so education through media has been one of the biggest things my family has gone through and it’s something that I’m really passionate about.

Niko, USA

When I go home, I have a prep week for a sailing instructor job, then I teach for two four-week stretches in my home East Bay area — San Francisco, Oakland, Berkley and Marin County. After the summer I’ll be going to Oregon State University. There are about 40,000 students at Oregon State. One of the deciding factors was having a place to go and that I’d never be bored. Pearson was interesting, and I really loved the community. I was very social and also very school-focused, but after two years, there’s just not the breadth of activities, extra-curriculars and things that I’d like to do or things that I don’t yet know that I think I’d like to do. I think going to a bigger university offers those opportunities. I can say definitively that Pearson has been a positive experience…but I’m still clarifying in my mind how to describe that. I admit that the sailing program at Pearson was disappointing in terms of the equipment available, the way it is maintained it and frankly, the instruction. There were a whole host of things that I see could be improved and I voiced these.

Good luck to all graduating students of Year 44. We wish you all the very best on your next adventures.