Have you ever met a child with more focus and determination than most adults? Enter Giselle*. A Grade 12 student at Eastglen school, Giselle knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid of working hard to make sure she gets get.

Giselle started attending the Rundle Club when she was just 6 years old. Her family moved around quite a bit, so there were a few of her elementary and junior high years where she wasn’t living close to a Club and couldn’t take part in the programs. But when she started high school at Eastglen, where Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters is part of the All In For Youth initiative, she got herself reconnected with our organization.

Every week for the last two years, Giselle has been attending the Raise the Grade program to get help with her homework and extra support planning for her post-secondary career.  One of her major goals is to get her own apartment and live on her own while she goes to university.

Tokunbo, the Out of School Time Coordinator at Eastglen, shares that Gisele has a difficult relationship with her mom. Though she has other relatives who support her, they live across the country. She doesn’t want to leave Edmonton, but she feels like her relationship with her mom will be less strained once they’re not living in the same home.

Unfortunately, making that work is easier said than done. So, Tokunbo has been working with Giselle during their weekly Raise the Grade program to plan how she’ll balance paying for her own place and all the bills that go with it, and paying for school. Her grandparents have been contributing to an RESP for her, but it’s not enough to cover all the expenses that go along with a post-secondary education.

Luckily, Giselle is no stranger to hard work. Most days see her getting up early for her shift at a local coffee shop before her classes start. Then she’ll pick up a second shift before heading home to focus on her homework.

“When most kids tell us they that they can’t wait to move out from their parent’s homes, you tell them to wait a little longer,” Tokunbo says. “But with Giselle, I know she can do it. She’s got strong budgeting skills, she’s realistic about her goals, and she knows exactly what she needs to do to get where to wants to be. I believe in her ability to be super successful.”

Sometimes kids just need a little help getting there.

One way Tokunbo knew that we could help is with money for her education. Together, they set out in crafting her application for a scholarship through Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada.

It took several days of the two of them working side by side to get everything completed. Tokunbo wrote Giselle a nomination letter and helped her reach out to other folks for two more letters of recommendation. They proofread it together, and when it was ready Giselle hit the submit button.

Giselle was awarded $2,500 from the Ted Rogers Scholarship! That money will go a long way to making sure she can focus on her studies and afford her own apartment. Plus, it’s a scholarship she can apply for each year she is in University.

“Giselle is such a great kid,” Tokunbo says with a touch of pride. “She’s funny with a little bit of attitude, but mostly she’s just charming. She really deserved that scholarship so when we found out, well, it was just a good day all around.”

Now, Giselle is looking ahead to what her future holds. She’s been accepted into MacEwan University’s Political Science program with her sights set on getting a position with the United Nationals that’s focused on social justice.  In the short term, she also wants to apply for a part-time program staff position with BGCBigs once our fall postings open all while keeping up her extracurricular activities – specifically dance.

“She’s always had a strong head on her shoulders,” Tokunbo shares. “It was an important turn in her life when she reconnected with BGCBigs. Now she has a scholarship, a potential part-time job doing something she loves while she’s in school, and access to extra support balancing her work, school, and life.

“I’m sure that even without our organization she would have a found a way to achieve her goals, but we made it easier for her, and so she didn’t have to do it alone.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the youth.


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