Adversity doesn’t stop Comp graduand

Education: Tayler VanWeeteringen receives a $5,000 Horatio Alger Jim Pattison Alberta Scholarship.

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am

Foothills Composite High School student Tayler VanWeeteringen has overcome adversity to receive a $5,000 Horatio Alger Jim Pattison Alberta Scholarship.
Foothills Composite High School student Tayler VanWeeteringen has overcome adversity to receive a $5,000 Horatio Alger Jim Pattison Alberta Scholarship.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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A Foothills Composite High School student admits she get antsy now and then. Her anxiety skyrocketed when she got a text concerning an application for a scholarship last month.

“I checked the email and it said ‘Congratulations, you have won,”’ said Grade 12 student Tayler VanWeeteringen with a chuckle. “I was so shocked I threw my phone across the room — fortunately it didn’t break.”

VanWeeteringen is one of the recipients of a $5,000 Horatio Alger Jim Pattison Alberta scholarship.

Some of the criteria for the scholarship are overcoming adversity and financial need.

“I come from a single-parent household and my mom raised me on her own, so money has been tight my whole life,” she said. “We’re fine, we have a roof over our heads — it’s just money is a bit tight.”

She added she also suffers from anxiety issues now and then. Receiving the $5,000 scholarship has helped with that anxiety.

“I have known all my life that if I don’t get scholarships, I won’t be going to university,” VanWeeteringen said. “Because of that, I always try to do good in school. If I get a low quiz mark, I kind of panic: ‘Oh no, I’m not going to university,’ kind of thing.”

It didn’t happen often. Her marks are in the 90 per cent range.

One of the requirements for the scholarship was to write an essay to Jim Pattison, a man who overcame early struggles to become one of the wealthiest persons in Canada.

“I thought it was amazing the things he overcame such as he came from a low-income family as well and he made a life for himself,” she said. “I explained what was going on with me… and I guess he listened.”

While she was inspired by people like Pattison, her hero has not changed.

“I am so proud of my mom,” VanWeeteringen said. “She has had to deal with so much.”

That pride is more than reciprocated.

“I am very, very proud of her,” said her mom Linda. “She is an inspiration to me like you would not believe.”

She said Tayler was bullied while attending elementary school in Kamloops.

“She became very, very insular, so much so that she wouldn’t talk to people,” Linda said. “She has really blossomed since we came to Okotoks two years ago. The bullying stopped in Okotoks and she has learned how to trust again. She has also learned to stand up for herself.”

Linda admits the scholarship has helped ease a mom’s anxiety as well.

“Before the scholarship came, she was thinking of not furthering her education for a while,” Linda said. “This scholarship means so much. It has proven to her, that her hard work has paid off.”

Tayler credits the staff and students at Foothills Comp for much of her success.

“The Comp is a great school,” she said. “The quality of teaching is so high.”

She has chosen to go to the University of Calgary, so she can stay with her family.

She plans to study zoology.

“My dream is to open up a vet clinic and hopefully, I can do a program where people can make monthly payments,” she said.


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