Stephanie Govier burst into tears of joy and immediately called her mom. Kala Mackintosh still can’t sleep because of the excitement, and Haley Robinson recognized right away that she was just given a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
All three Vancouver Island University senior undergraduates are recipients of VIU’s Building Resilience in Coastal Communities, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships. Each scholarship provides money to cover travel, tuition and living expenses for a three- to six-month internship in Belize.
They, along with 11 other VIU scholars and visiting scholars from Belize, were officially recognized at a ceremony held earlier this month.
“When I heard I was selected, I understood right away what a huge learning opportunity it was. When we go to Belize, we know there won’t be somebody there telling us what to do. We’re expected to be leaders of our own projects so it’s a bit intimidating. But I know I was picked for a reason, and I’m ready,” said Mackintosh.
The event represents the first round of scholarship announcements. Over the next two years a total of 31 scholarships will be awarded to VIU and Belizean scholars who have demonstrated a strong commitment to research or studies that foster sustainable economic activity.
Jennifer Sills, education abroad programs manager, says the challenges that face coastal communities across Vancouver Island and Belize are similar yet deeply complex and mired in regional politics, histories, and the tricky business of balancing sustainability and human rights with economic development.
Six VIU master’s program scholars will also be leaving in May to conduct research in Belize. There are also five Belizean QE graduates who will arrive in September to start their graduate studies at VIU.