By Rick Littlechild
The RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program was launched in 1992 to help Aboriginal students complete post-secondary education and provide an opportunity for RBC to strengthen its relationship with the Aboriginal community. To date, 98 students have received the award, and $1,000,000 in scholarship funds has been awarded. RBC also considers scholarship recipients interested in financial services careers for summer and post-graduate employment.
Phil Fontaine acts as a special advisor to RBC. “Training and education help lay the groundwork for the future success of Aboriginal youth in the Canadian workforce,” he says. “The fact that RBC provides scholarship and stay-in-school programs is a testament to its deep understanding of the needs of today’s Aboriginal youth and the communities in which they live.”
Jeremy McKay, from the Pine Creek First Nation near Dawson Manitoba, is one of the 2010 beneficiaries of the RBC Aboriginal Student awards. Jeremy was a brilliant student during high school and will begin post secondary studies this fall at the University of Manitoba. “I want to be an accountant,” he said, “and the Royal Bank is helping me make that happen.” Jeremy plans to use the money from the scholarship to take care of his living expenses and tuition fees.
A confident young man, Jeremy will turn 17 on September 29 and has given serious thought to his career and future. He approached his education with dedication and is committed to leaving University in three years with a diploma in his hand. He admits to being good in mathematics and has a good sense of organization and attention to details. These same qualities are prerequisites for anyone handling the finances for a company or government organization. Jeremy worked for the Royal Bank for six weeks this summer and enjoyed the experience. He is hopeful the bank might hire him when he graduates. “The bank would be a good place to start,” he says, “and eventually I would like to work with the administration on the Pine Creek reservation.”
The chances of Jeremy attending university without the scholarship were slim, but now that the finances are taken care of, he is looking forward to finishing his education at the university of his choice. Winnipeg will be Jeremy’s home for the next four years, but he is still a country boy at heart and would like his first job to be in Dawson. He has an interest in music and has been involved in Pow Wow dancing. He also loves sports (mainly hockey) and is looking forward to catching a few Moose games while he is in Winnipeg.
The RBC Aboriginal Student Awards program is offered to students currently enrolled in full-time post-secondary studies. An independent committee of academics from the Aboriginal community and RBC representatives select recipients based on personal and academic achievements as well as individual financial need. A select group of ten students are awarded up to $4,000 each academic year for a maximum of four years to use towards tuition, textbooks, supplies and living expenses. Awards are distributed in two categories: for students majoring in disciplines related to the financial services industry and for students majoring in unrelated disciplines. For more information about the annual RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program, including eligibility criteria, visit the Royal Bank of Canada’s Aboriginal Student Awards program.