Eleven local students at Thompson Rivers University were awarded money toward their education at a recent ceremony, thanks to the passion and dedication of a local volunteer community group called TRU Grit.
TRU Grit members, committed to encouraging post-secondary education in Williams Lake and throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin, awarded $21,500 to the students at an event attended by TRU Grit members and delegates from the university.
“We want this school to grow and grow, and one of the best ways to do that is to get students into the classrooms,” said TRU Grit member Brian Garland, who explained that the money for the student awards is raised through the TRU Grit Gala.
This annual event, held at the university, features a flawlessly decorated banquet room, live music, an elegant dinner and more.
In four years, the TRU Grit Gala has raised more than $100,000.
“This community has been very strong in supporting this institution, and I think that’s fabulous,” he continued.
“It’s been said that education is expensive, but I think a lack of education is more expensive. Everything we can do to help students along the way is fantastic.”
“Thank you so much for selecting me for the full time student grant,” wrote award recipient Erin Huxley in a thank-you card, explaining that she couldn’t attend the ceremony because she had to work.
“As a single mother of two amazing children, I am truly grateful for the financial assistance. Thank you for helping to support me on my journey to better myself, and for helping set an example for my children. With great thanks from Erin Huxley, future Practical Nurse.”
Dr. Ray Sanders, TRU executive director of the Williams Lake campus, said there are two things he’s very passionate about.
“One is quality of education, which we definitely have here, and the second thing is access,” Sanders said.
“It can be very difficult for students to leave their communities and move away to places like Vancouver, Victoria, or Kamloops, to attend school.
“My dream is that one day we don’t have to send students anywhere else — that they can get everything they need right here,” he said, adding that the success and growth of TRU would not happen without the support of TRU Grit and the community.
“We’re all about learners being successful. We have plans in place for tremendous growth, but more than that, we want to be here for each student individually,” Sanders said. “We want to provide quality education and a quality environment so that you can be the best you can be.”
Kerry Cook, former Williams Lake mayor, and faculty member for more than 30 years, is the TRU Grit Gala chair.
“Education is so important: it’s about breaking down walls and barriers and opening doors to things you never thought possible. There is no better satisfaction than seeing your students leave your classroom with skills and confidence to make a difference in their families and in their communities,” she stated.
“That’s why today is so exciting. The $100,000 awarded to students over the past four years would never have happened without someone like Brian Garland: someone who is so passionate about education and opening doors for students. It starts with one person who can inspire a community, and grows from there.”
For more information about the 2016 TRU Grit Gala, called Diamonds and Denim, including how you can volunteer, phone Kerry Cook at 250-392-8000.