Increasing awareness of Aboriginal awards and bursaries proves beneficial
The total value of the awards distributed to Aboriginal students in scholarships and bursaries almost doubled this academic year compared to last year and 76 per cent more Aboriginal students received an award. The $110,000 provided to Aboriginal students in 2010-11 represents a 97 per cent increase over 2009-10.
This is thanks to the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC) and the Student Awards Office working together to inform Aboriginal students about the awards, bursaries and scholarships available to them.
“Financial stress can alter or hinder an Aboriginal student’s post-secondary education success. We wanted to make them aware of the awards, scholarships and bursaries that are available to help ease that burden,” says Laura Maracle, Aboriginal advisor at the FDASC.
FDASC staff found that many Aboriginal students didn’t know they could access a specific Aboriginal bursary by applying to the Queen’s general bursary. So they began an extensive campaign to reach them including letters, emails, social media messages, information at various events and direct contact with program directors and coordinators.
They also hosted an awards workshop and consulted with the Student Awards Office when Aboriginal students encountered problems filling out their applications.
“Putting the information out there, following up and keeping in touch is vital,” says Ms Maracle. “Many Aboriginal students at Queen’s attend part-time and have family and work commitments. And some students are not sponsored by a band so they have to seek OSAP or alternate funding. Without scholarships and bursaries, they might not be able to attend university.”
FDASC intends to build on the network it created this year by working with residence dons and other departments to let them know about the Aboriginal student awards. Next year’s Aboriginal recruitment video will include information about bursaries.