Each member of the West Coast’s most recent graduating class has reason to celebrate, and to be congratulated, but one graduate in particular is walking on significant sunshine.
Chenoah Shine is 2015’s Pacific Rim Foundation Scholarship recipient.
The $40,000 scholarship is the West Coast’s largest and most prestigious scholarship and is awarded to one Ucluelet Secondary School graduate each year.
Shine was honoured with her well-deserved award at a special ceremony held during a recent regular council meeting in Tofino.
“The foundation awards the student who has excelled with their involvement in their respective communities and their engagement in the bigger world,” said foundation president Gary Marks.
“We celebrate their volunteerism and contributions to others and their determination to make a difference in a world faced with great challenges.”
Marks said the 17 year-old Shine has already demonstrated a strong character, keen reliability, and a dedicated sense of purpose.
“The diverse interests in this young lady’s life, from photography to equestrian arts to guiding in the wilderness, and how she pursues them with an open and keen mind and a dedicated and kind heart is inspiring to all of us,” he said.
“Her extensive and longstanding commitments and involvement in various endeavours both local and global are commendable. We are proud to give Chenoah this award and encourage her in her declared pursuits.”
Shine spoke at the presentation and expressed huge gratitude for the communities she has called home.
“My experience of growing up in Tofino and Ucluelet has been so full of inspiration, possibility and community-wide encouragement and support,” she said.
“This is an invaluable asset to a young person’s life.”
She said that before arriving at the presentation, she spent the morning on Long Beach with her feet in the sand and her eyes on the horizon.
“I was reminded that I’m kind of on the edge of that same journey in my own life. I’m about to take sail and go out and figure things out,” she said.
“I’m just so incredibly grateful to the foundation and everybody for giving me this ship to take sail with, this incredible opportunity...I’m excited to explore the many doors that this scholarship will open for me and I’m so grateful; thank you so much for this opportunity.”
Emily Tranfield, the scholarship’s first recipient in 2009, also spoke at the presentation and touted the significant impact the scholarship has had on her educational and professional pursuits.
“The scholarship played a pivotal role in my education path to say the very least,” she said.
“Thanks to the scholarship I’ve been able to pursue my academic goals and, really, the academic education that is needed to pursue some of my lifetime goals.”
Tranfield said the $40,000 scholarship was a huge financial relief and allowed her to focus on her studies.
While she chose to work as a student advisor and outdoor recreation leader, Tranfield said her grades would have suffered if she had been forced into the workforce.
“It enabled me to actually use my evenings for studying,” she said.
“I have no idea where I’d fit time in for studying otherwise; I would have had to have taken a lighter course load or I would have seen a lower GPA for sure.”
Tranfield has put five years of outdoor recreation guide experience under her belt and achieved Whitewater River Rafting Guide certification.
“The scholarship enabled me to financially be able to pursue the experiences for growth and certification that I wish to and enabled me to experience so much more than just lecture halls and the library,” she said.
“By not having to pay for my classes and books I was able to spend some of my time looking for certification outside of my academics.”
Tranfield has completed her Bachelor of Science and expects to have completed her Bachelor of Education by Christmas.
“Words cannot express thank you enough to the (scholarship’s) benefactors. You’ve given me the opportunity to experience and pursue so much more than just classroom studies; you’ve made a tremendous difference in my life,” she said.
She congratulated Shine for earning the award.
“In order to be awarded this scholarship, you’ve already shown determination with your life goals and your devotion to our West Coast communities,” she said.
“The awarding of the scholarship to you will greatly assist you in continuing your goals.”
Marks noted this year’s grad class offered an abundance of worthy scholarship recipients and he congratulated every student who applied.
“Each of the applicants demonstrated that they seek to live in a world with a life of purpose and consequence and make a difference,” he said.
“Once again we see the unconditional love and support that parents, teachers and community give to our children. These young adults are a reflection of us and their hard work and earnest efforts are a tribute to the best in all of us.”
Marks said Shine would be a solid representative of both the foundation and the West Coast and he thanked Tofino’s council for allowing the foundation to publicly congratulate her.
“We believe strongly that it is important to make this presentation in front of our local village’s governmental body to mark the significance and share in celebrating our children’s great and prodigious accomplishments,” he said.
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly News after the meeting that she was thrilled to welcome the public presentation.
“Like many awards and rites of passage, having witnesses is very important as it helps mark a moment in time and invites us all to celebrate in what is happening,” Osborne said. “It’s a moment I think Chenoah will always remember.”
Shine will head to the University of Victoria to study Social Sciences.
“I am interested in ecological restoration, ethno-ecology and have a strong passion for environmental conservation,” she told the Westerly News after the presentation.
“Clayoquot and Barkley Sound are my home and they possess a raw and wild splendor that has helped shape my character and interests. The University of Victoria is an excellent school where I can remain on the Island surrounded by all that inspires me."