Kyla Barton

Life’s obstacles made me stronger: grad

Kyla Barton is among Peninsula grads whose post-secondary paths have been eased by a scholarship win.

Peninsula grads are raking in funds for their post-secondary education.

Awards doled out to students this year – not including those presented by the individual schools themselves – ranged in value up to $80,000, with two of those awards landing in the hands of Semiahmoo Secondary grads and a third going to an Elgin Park student.

While any amount is a welcome boost when it comes to pursuing higher learning, for some it can make the difference in whether post-secondary education is even an option.

Earl Marriott Secondary grad Kyla Barton told Peace Arch News she would pursue her post-secondary goals no matter what, but her $35,000 Cmolik Foundation award has dramatically eased the journey.

According to the foundation’s website, it’s presented to youth “who are financially challenged and have demonstrated tenacity to overcome a significant barrier or disadvantage in their life.”

Barton, 18, said she grew up “with many obstacles,” and has been living on her own since last August. Though she declined to go into specifics, she said she hit a speed bump in her high school journey after illness forced her to miss much of Grade 10.

Determined, she attended the South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre to make up for lost time, and graduated this year with what learning-centre principal Jim McConnell described as “unbelievable marks.”

Barton – who swam competitively for six years before a shoulder injury took her out of the pool – said the Cmolik award was welcome news.

“It’s nice. I would have gone to school regardless, it just would’ve been harder.”

Obstacles along the way “made me to be stronger and to realize that no matter what happens, you can do anything,” she said.

“There’s times you lose track of the goals. It’s all about keep getting back on your feet.”

Barton said she’ll attend the SFU Beedie School of Business, and plans to pursue a career in the financial industry.

EMS officials declined to share details of other high-level scholarship winners, citing privacy.

At Semi, principal Claudine Bunyan described 2014-15 as “a phenomenal year” in terms of awards claimed by International Baccalaureate students.

“The group we have this year is amazing,” she said.

Bunyan noted this is the IB program’s 35th year at Semi and it “just seems to be getting stronger and stronger.”

Semi’s Rika Sugimoto-Dimitrova and Maro Lee both won $80,000 scholarships; Sugimoto-Dimitrova, the UBC Schulich Leadership Scholarship and Lee, from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

In addition, four Semi students were among 20 in Canada shortlisted for the prestigious Blyth Cambridge Scholarship Trust. This is the first time in four years a Semi student has not won the award.

“We didn’t have a winner there, but we exceeded everywhere else,” Bunyan said.

At Elgin Park, Brendan Cottrell won the $80,000 SFU Schulich Leadership Scholarship.

Other Semi scholarship winners ($20,000 and up) included:

Cindy Huang, California Institute of Technology ($48,000)

Kevin (Yen Ta) Feng, MICA ($42,000)

Maggi Li, Gordon M. Shrum Scholarship, ($24,000)

Judy Song, UBC Entrance Scholarship ($20,000)

Peter Lee, Harvard bursary ($67,000)

Matthew Weins, University of Calgary, Schulich Engineering Scholarship ($56,800)

Seyoung Jeon, McGill entrance scholarship ($20,000)

Jerry Liang, Lawrence University, ($20,000)

Jill Xu, New York University ($30,000)

Amneet Mann, SFU entrance scholarship ($20,000)

Katherine Reiss, Mount Allison ($35,000)

Scott Jang, University of Michigan Business School ($26,000)

Chelsea Ribeiro, Eastern Washington University track scholarship ($35,000 per year)

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