Sayk’pru Say has overcome plenty of diversity in her 19 years.
But today, the young Langley resident is getting an educational boost this school year thanks to a little help from Coast Capital Savings credit union and its Youth Get It Education Awards, given to students who have faced exceptional hardships while succeeding in school, and supports them with their post-secondary education expenses so they can continue to pursue their goals.
Coast Capital is awarding $47,500 to 18 students in the Fraser Valley region through the credit union’s Youth Get It Education Awards.
All told, Coast Capital Savings awarded $152,500 to 60 B.C. students through the program.
Sayk’pru was surprised to receive the award.
“A friend of mine recommended me,” she said. “When I got it I was just so happy.”
Sayk’pru and her family are originally from Myanmar (formerly Burma), but she lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for the first 10 years of her life before coming to Canada in 2008.
Once here, she faced adversity in school because she was not able to speak English as well as her classmates, and because she was not accustomed to Canadian culture and traditions.
“It was so difficult to talk with other people, with other students,” Sayk’pru remembered, about her first few years in Canada.
Sayk’pru said her grasp of English and adapting to life in Canada is “getting better and better.”
“The language takes time to learn and trying to adapt to the culture, too,” she said.
As part of a family of 13, with her father as the sole income earner, Sayk’pru will use this award to help her attend Kwantlen Polytechnic University to improve her English skills, before enrolling in a law enforcement program next year, with the goal of becoming an RCMP officer.
Wendy Lachance, director of community leadership with Coast Capital Savings, said communities across B.C.have “incredibly resilient and passionate young people who continue to succeed academically despite facing challenging life circumstances.”
“Coast Capital is pleased to recognize and assist these young British Columbians through the Youth Get It Education Awards, and help them reach their long-term goals as they move towards post-secondary education,” Lachance said.
Since 2004, the credit union has invested over $1.9 million helping 746 students fund their post-secondary studies.
The award recipients are young people whose struggles range from mental health to challenging family dynamics to facing homelessness, living in foster care and surviving cancer.
As part of Coast Capital’s Youth Get It Education Awards program, the Beth Hutchinson Standing Tall Award is given annually to one student in Surrey who has faced considerable health challenges, while excelling in school.
The award, worth $5,000, was created in honour of Surrey student Beth Hutchinson, a past recipient who lost her battle with cancer in 2013, when she was 20 years old.
This year, Surrey resident Jenna Faykosh received the fourth annual Beth Hutchinson Standing Tall Award in recognition of her determination to obtain a degree in sports sciences, despite facing serious medical issues. Faykosh plans to become a physiotherapist, specializing in sports-related injuries.
Other youth-focused Coast Capital Savings initiatives include its Youth Get It Interns, providing paid-work experience and community engagement for grade 11 and 12 students, and three regional Youth Get It Community Councils, which decide on the allocation of Coast Capital’s community investment grants. The grants are awarded to youth-focused organizations across B.C.