Since the start of our scholarship program in 2001, the Columbia Institute has awarded over $143,000 to adults returning to school for retraining or skills upgrading. Here are just some of our recipients’ success stories.

“Making the decision to go back to school as an adult learner was a difficult one because of financial and other concerns. The Lifelong Learning Award has assisted me to change professions and follow my dream of becoming a Registered Nurse. My interests lie in community health and acute care nursing, and I hope to make a positive difference by promoting health equity and social justice in my practice. Thank you again for helping me to achieve my goal!

I would like to thank Columbia Institute for the generous scholarships.”

– Tenny Bache

“I had a difficult time making the decision to leave the security of my job and return to school to study full-time. Initially, I returned to school part-time and continued to work and to raise my son as a single-parent. I applied to nursing school at Camosun College after successfully completing a couple of part-time courses and was quickly accepted into full-time study. I was very fortunate to receive assistance and I used the money to help pay my tuition. Many of my classmates were in their early 20s and did not have the pressures of family life that I had; however, I found that my life experience and work ethic were invaluable. I worked very hard during my post-secondary studies and graduated “with distinction” from the University of Victoria. While I was in school, I worked as an Employed Student Nurse at Royal Jubilee Hospital and I presently work there as a Registered Nurse.

I want to thank the Columbia Institute for helping me to finally achieve my goal of graduating from university. There is nothing like walking across that podium knowing that it can be done!”

– Laureen A. Jones, BScN, RN

“I returned to school to complete my Bachelor of Education Degree at the age of 36. I had a 10-month old baby and a 3-year old son. Becoming a teacher had been a goal for many years, and I was only 2 years away from achieving this as I already had a Bachelor of Arts degree. Financially, it was a big commitment to step out of the work force for 2 years and to take a leap into a new career of teaching. It was also daunting to study full-time in the challenging field of education with 2 young children, while my husband was working hard to support our family.

Five years later, I am now employed in a permanent full-time teaching position in a school district in the Okanagan. My studies did not stop with a Bachelor of Education; once employed as a teacher, I continued to study part-time and have also received a diploma in Special Education. I am always inspired by my own students who overcome challenges every day in their lives and who continue to teach me about resilience and success. I have gratitude for organizations such as the Columbia Institute for their recognition of the needs of everyday citizens who have educational and career goals and need the financial support to attain these. Thank you!”

— Kathryn Golbeck

“I was 24 and working in a decent job with decent pay; however, I recognized the limited potential of the position I was in, being that my entire skill set, experience, and hope rested in this one job. If anything were to happen to take that away, I would be in a compromised position and have limited skills to become hired. I decided to change my situation to make myself more employable, diversify my skills, and finally finish a bachelor’s degree that I was long intending to finish.

I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as I had a passion for science, enjoyed quick, critical thinking and problem solving, and needed a profession that I could do anywhere (I love to travel). I started a BSN at BCIT with intentions of later specializing in Emergency. Throughout my education years, it was difficult. I worked approximately 30 hours per week, sometimes more, just to keep myself afloat. My parents were very supportive of my career decisions but lacked the financial resources to help. Aside from government loans, scholarships, and my own efforts in working on top of going to school, I had no other sources of financial support. Scholarships, like the one granted to me by the Columbia Institute, was an incredible “load off” my mind when it came time to pay my tuition. 

I am happy to say that I graduated with a BSN with Distinction. Thanks to the Employed Student Nurse program, I found work easily and was working full-time in Emergency at Surrey Memorial Hospital. Shortly after being hired, I was sponsored by Fraser Health to continue my studies and completed my Emergency Nursing Specialty certificate as well as other various certifications associated with emergency nursing.  With a BSN from Canada, I also challenged the American NCLEX (Nursing Board Exam) and am now licensed to practice in the state of Washington.

I am now employed full-time in a job I love with a career that I can take with me anywhere I go. I am glad I chose to return to school to continue my education and very thankful for scholarships such as Columbia Institute’s to help others who are in similar positions as I was. Thank You!”

Irene Brown (formerly Audet)

Claire H. from Victoria is enrolled in the Environmental Technology program at Camosun College. After being unable to find gainful employment in occupational health, safety and environmental management due to industry specific training, she is returning to school to expand the application of her existing certifications. Claire, 24, has already had to overcome much adversity in the pursuit of her career including a spinal cord injury and workplace discrimination, none of which have prevented her from reaching her education and career goals.