Airdrie youth volunteer selected for international scholarship


“[The scholarships] are granted to those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their contributions towards charitable activities within their communities and have consistently excelled academically,” the press release stated.

An Airdrie resident and food bank volunteer has been selected by an international fraternal life insurance company as the recipient of a $2,000 scholarship to be allocated toward her fourth and final year of studies at St. Mary’s University in Calgary.

According to a Foresters Financial press release, the company’s competitive academic scholarships are awarded annually to 300 students in the US, Canada, and the UK

“[The scholarships] are granted to those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their contributions towards charitable activities within their communities and have consistently excelled academically,” the press release stated.

Twenty-year-old Anna Lizak said she first applied and was awarded the scholarship during her first year of studies at St. Mary’s University, where she is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in biology. She applied for the renewable scholarship as a returning candidate this year.

The Foresters Financial scholarships can be awarded for up to four years for students who are pursuing undergraduate study at an accredited two or four-year college, university, or vocational/technical school.

According to Lizak, after graduating from high school, she chose to attend the private Catholic university in south Calgary (nearly a 45-minute trek from her home in Airdrie) as it aligns with her own faith.

“I chose St. Mary’s primarily because it was Catholic and that was important to me,” she said.

She added she initially wanted to complete the school’s elementary education after-degree program, but remarked she was required to complete an undergraduate degree as a prerequisite. Lizak’s passion for science led her to enrol in the university’s biology program, and she stated she has had no regrets about the decision.

“Even if I didn’t continue on to education, I would still love doing something with my science degree,” she said.

The Airdrie Food Bank volunteer said she was hoping she would receive the scholarship again this year and was eager to meet Forester’s application requirements by putting in a minimum number of volunteer hours, and a recurring commitment to volunteerism in her community.

“I was very excited [to be awarded the scholarship]. When you apply to a bunch of scholarships, you don’t know what you’ll end up getting,” she said.

According to the press release, Lizak earned her scholarship due to her academic achievement and crucially, a specific amount of time spent volunteering in her community at the Airdrie Food Bank.

“We are proud to recognize Anna for her contributions to her local community and for exemplifying the core principles and values ​​ingrained in the Foresters culture,” said Louis Gagnon, CEO and president of Foresters Financial.

“On behalf of Foresters, I’d like to thank and congratulate Anna on her accomplishments and am pleased to award her with this scholarship. We wish her every success as she pursues her studies,” he continued.

Lizak said she is currently in her third year of volunteering at the Airdrie Food Bank. She added over the years, she has done “a bit of everything,” including building food hampers, sorting donations, and delivering hampers to people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People who were quarantined or just didn’t have a vehicle to come to the food bank – my brother and I would go and deliver [hampers] to their houses,” Lizak said.

She added her favorite part of volunteering with the local food bank has been participating in RJ Hawkey Elementary School’s breakfast program.

“That’s been my favorite actually – I did that most of last year while I was in school,” she said.

The full-time student spends her spare time volunteering, working part-time, serving as a student ambassador, running on the university’s cross-country team, and committing time to her faith community both on and off campus.

Working a part-time job in addition to the rest of her ongoing pursuits, she added the money will go a long way toward helping cover this year’s tuition.

“It’s expensive being a student. Also, any science textbooks usually cost a lot,” she said.

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