Hazelton Secondary student Natalie Pole has received a $5,000 scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association of Canada.
“When I applied for it I didn’t expect I would receive anything,” said Pole. “I’m one step closer to being able to afford university so it’s special.”
The Horatio Alger Association of Canada is a charitable organization that gives scholarships to high school students that have a financial need and have overcome adversity. Pole is one of 85 students from across Canada to be selected for the scholarship.
Pole left her adoptive family’s home one year ago and has been living with Bill and Grace Blackburn ever since.
The Grade 12 student says she decided to leave because family issues made it difficult to focus on school.
“[Leaving taught] me responsibility,” said Pole. “It’s helped me realize how I should live as a youth becoming an adult.”
Pole hopes to enrol in the registered nursing program at Northwest Community College in Terrace this fall.
“I want to work in a community like Smithers so I can help people like myself and make a difference in small communities like here,” said Pole. “[I want to] be there for people who maybe don’t have other people that can be there for them.”
Pole is this year’s grad representative at Hazelton Secondary School. She’s in charge of organizing grad photos, making sure parents know what’s going on and recently ordered grad sweaters.
She also has been coaching youth soccer for the last four years.
“When [the kids] play a little game they all come together and put aside their differences and they work as a team, which is cool because in this town there’s lots of differences and it’s hard to put those aside,” said Pole.
Pole said although she hasn’t seen her adoptive family in months she still keeps in contact with them and can’t wait to share the news of her scholarship.
“I’m working on a relationship with them, and I still want to have a relationship with them. I just can’t live in their house. But I still want to be their daughter,” said Pole. “I really want to tell them and I don’t know how they’ll respond but I think they’ll be happy for me.”
“This was a stand-out year for our Association in terms of the number of applications received and the quality of the applicant pool. Choosing winners was a difficult task. We have an outstanding group of 85 scholarship recipients and we are honoured to help them as they strive to overcome adversity and obtain a good education,” said president of the Horatio Alger Association of Canada, Prem Watsa, in a press release. “On behalf of the members of the Horatio Alger Association, I want to congratulate them all.”