Haglund bursary helps winner prepare to teach

Dear Editor:

I want to thank the Alma Haglund Trust Fund Committee and Colin Lowden for selecting me as one of the recipients for the Alma Haglund Bursary. The financial assistance has enabled me to continue my education so that I can help others pursue their dreams and ambitions.

My long-term vision, after getting more experience teaching once I am done my education degree as of Christmas 2011, is to create a program for youths who struggle within the typical academic science program. Specifically, I want to cater to youths with behaviour problems succeed in an academic program. I have also had positive experiences working with youth at the Inner City High School in Edmonton that has a majority of its students, First Nations youths who are returning from the streets to complete their schooling. From this experience I firmly believe that any student, if they so choose, should have the chance to learn and gain an education at any level, whether that be a trade or a career requiring further post-secondary schooling.

This financial assistance has enabled me to complete my diploma in disability studies in 2007 (formerly known as the rehabilitation practitioner’s program) at Grant MacEwan University. I then started an education degree program at Grant MacEwan that transferred to the University of Alberta in 2005 that will be completed by Christmas 2011. My major is biological sciences and my minor is human ecology with a specialty in food studies.

I grew up near Bashaw and attended Ponoka Composite High. I have just completed my last placement at the Camrose Composite High School and look forward to teaching in the rural community when I am done but I will take any opportunity I can get. I thoroughly enjoyed my teaching practicums at Camrose and at Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton and working with the students directly to help them become the leaders of our tomorrow. I firmly believe the young people of today hold the key to our future and it is society’s role to help them become mature, responsible, and contributing members of our society — which I enjoy doing while having some fun with them along the way as they continue to teach me new things each and every day.

I was on the dean’s list and one year assisted with coaching a junior high boys’ volleyball team. I also earned the Joyce Luciak Pernak Leadership Award, given to a student “who demonstrates community involvement, self-initiative, a passion for teaching and a commitment to working with diverse learners” (University of Alberta, 2010). This meant a lot to me as I always try to promote to my students the idea that something good can come from just about any learning experience and is never truly wasted. It is important to treat your peers, not only equally but also with respect, tolerance, understanding, and acceptance to make the world a better place despite the fact you may or may not necessarily agree with them on certain ideas or methods of completing tasks.

My parents were very firm in their belief that whatever I pursued academically was my responsibility to pay for on my own in full so that I would come to respect and value whatever educational and career path I choose, and take it very seriously. I decided to choose what I was most passionate about — helping and inspiring youths; I was quite involved with helping younger members in a 4-H sheep club in high school. I was also always a bit passionate about learning about animals (inside and out, as my parents own a meat packing abattoir, which my Biology 20 students during my last practicum were always held in suspense regarding what weird specimen Ms. K might bring in next).

To support myself during my post-secondary years, I have held a variety of summer positions throughout my schooling, my most recent job was with Dow Agro Sciences as a research assistant for the past two summers. This job really helped me as an educator to bring more practical and real life teaching lessons into the classroom and it helped me to become more aware of all of the extra agricultural careers and opportunities to encourage students to consider as they progress onto post-secondary schooling. This job, along with all of the other farming and real life practical examples I had growing up have helped me connect with students. I have found a lot of students living in more urban centres really enjoy hearing about these experiences and are also able to better connect what I am teaching them with something very memorable and practical, which will only empower them in their future.

Assistance from the Alma Haglund Trust Fund Committee will not only help to benefit me but will benefit the lives of hopefully all the students I come to teach in the future so they can do likewise for others.

Tara Kikel