Dreaming of a Better Future 

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

By: Taylor Fewer '15

I had big dreams as a little girl. I wanted to go to Oxford. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. And I was scared I was never going to get there.

I was born in Newfoundland and when I was nine we moved to Grand Prairie for my dad’s job as a safety consultant. I wasn’t being challenged in my old schools. I was bored in all of my classes, but still passed with flying colours. By age 10, I was already scared about making it into my dream university. I racked my brains for ideas on how to set myself up in the best possible position for success in my life. And that’s where Harry Potter enters this story.

I had always been jealous of Harry. His adventures. All of the opportunities he had. Being away from home and having constant sleepovers with friends, not to mention getting to be a wizard. And so, I decided – I was going to be a wizard. No, I’m just joking, I decided I was going to be a private school student.

Every evening when I got home from school, I would go to the private boarding schools in England Wikipedia page and go through every website, one by one. I had a binder filled with information that I kept hidden under my bed, with my opinions, pictures, tuition fees changed into Canadian dollars, whether the boys looked cute or not in the pictures they had posted on the website and the most important check: whether it was in a castle or not.

It finally got to be too much. While my evenings were filled with research and excitement, I was struggling to enjoy school. I was frustrated and felt like an adult at the little kids table.  And so, I told my mother I wanted to go to private school. I don’t remember her exact words, but they were along the linesof, “it’s never going to happen.” I cried some more, and then decided to prove her wrong.

Then fate intervened. It was suggested to me by the psychologist at my old school that a private school would be better suited to me, providing me with a more challenging academic education. I showed my parents the schools that interested me in England and finally they told me that maybe I could attend for Grade 11 and Grade 12. However, I did not want to wait that long so my dad suggested that I look at schools in Canada. I was outraged. There were no castles in Canada as far as I could recall, but I went back to my tireless research, which led me to STS. 

I liked the sound of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School – it sounded quite posh and regal. I would get to go to school ‘upcountry’, not to a castle, but with a building with enough brick that I could pretend it was one. The deciding factor for me attending STS was because it offered the International Baccalaureate Programme.

I still remember coming down to do my entrance exam in November of Grade 9 and the Director of Enrollment telling my mom that I was a shoe-in. And I remember the plane ride back to Grande Prairie with my heart filled with hope only to experience the most frightful flight of my life in which I spent the majority of it yelling at God in my head demanding that he land me safely because I had a future to attend to.

When I found out I had been accepted – then came the next crucial piece of the puzzle. Funding. I applied for one of STS’ Forever Woods Scholarships, and when I received the Marissa Staddon Scholarship I can tell you for a fact, I cried. I cried tears of joy and happiness and gratefulness. You see, it’s not that we couldn’t necessarily afford STS, it’s that it would be a stretch. I was starting to realize how financially burdening a private school education could be. There was even a point where I considered telling my parents I wasn’t going to come to STS, because I didn’t want something as accessible as education, to be such a burden on my parents. Receiving the scholarship I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Money problems are something no child should ever have to worry about and the donors who give to scholarships and bursaries at STS made it possible for me to not worry about being able to afford STS – for that I will be forever grateful.

To attend STS my parents had to make significant changes in their lives. They decided to sell our house in Grand Prairie and we then made the move to Okotoks when I completed Grade 9.  I am eternally grateful to my parents for everything they did to make my dream come true.

Since coming to STS, I have had the opportunity of a lifetime. Academically, I’ve been challenged and I’ve welcomed my struggles with open arms, always reminding myself when I’m tired with homework and frustrated that I could be back home in Newfoundland or in Grande Prairie, feeling like I’m going nowhere.

The dedicated teachers at STS have allowed me to feel independent in my studies but have also provided me with the support I needed when I wasn’t sure. I’ve made friends that will last me for years and years to come. I have been a member of Reach for the Top and field hockey, and I’ve had the opportunity to pursue full IB. I’ve been a peer tutor, a volunteer, the Dragon in Shrek the Musical, a director for a Grade 9 play, a member of speech and choir and my most exciting accomplishment yet, I’ve become a Prefect for the school year. Being a Prefect will be my opportunity to give back to STS.

My parents, the school and the scholarship donors have granted me the gift of a first class education, allowing me to feel secure and prepared for my future. I no longer fear not getting into the university of my choice. I no longer fear seeing my dreams not come true and while my dreams for the future have changed, my dedication to my education has not.

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School may not be in a castle in England, but it is still my second home and for that I will be forever grateful.

Taylor shared these remarks at last year’s Donor and Volunteer Appreciation Reception in May, 2014.