Growing up in Gold River, 17-year-old Hana Kim always wanted to pursue medicine to better serve rural parts of Vancouver Island.
That is why, when she received the Beedie Luminaries scholarship, she was exhilarated as she was one step closer to achieving her dream.
Earlier this week, Kim received a $40,000 Beedie Luminaries scholarship, an initiative by B.C.-based real estate tycoon and philanthropist, Ryan Beedie.
According to its founding philosophy, the scholarship was set up to help “bright driven students from disadvantaged backgrounds” who couldn’t afford post-secondary education.
This year, 128 students from across B.C. were awarded the scholarship. Fourteen recipients were from Vancouver Island.
“Hana’s story was compelling,” said Martina Meckova, executive director of Beedie Luminaries.
“She displayed the skills, characteristics, perseverance and determination that we search for in our ‘luminaries,’” Meckova said.
Born to parents who immigrated from Korea, Kim was born in Vancouver and moved to the Island when she was 12 years old.
Since then, she has pursued her education in Gold River - a place that is the “most beautiful” place on earth, according to Kim.
As a young student from a small town, for Kim, this is a dream come true.
“Never in a million years did I imagine that I would win such a huge prize,” said Kim.
She applied for the scholarship in January after her principal at Gold River Secondary School encouraged her to do so.
Despite matching most criteria for the scholarship, the Gold River girl was still not sure if she had “enough extracurricular activities under her belt.”
“When you’re from a smaller town, there isn’t much exposure to the outside world,” said Kim about the challenges that smaller school districts face.
Because of the challenges she faced, Kim also said that at times it is difficult for students to jump to post-secondary education from smaller towns.
“Sometimes there aren’t many courses offered that are prerequisites for college,” said Kim and added that she worked around the challenge by undertaking distance learning courses.
She also undertook a lot of independent studying hours to “get to a point” to apply to university. Her teachers also supported her and were able to give personal attention whenever she needed help.
Against all odds, Kim was determined to continue with her education. After a financially tough year for her family, Kim started applying for multiple scholarships. Her parents were “crazy happy” when she told them that she received the scholarship.
Come fall, Kim will be heading to the University of Victoria to pursue a bachelor in science and will be studying chemistry.
“The scholarship is such a relief,” Kim said and added that it freed her to concentrate on her studies rather than having to worry about finances.