CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin Hope Stewart of John Barsby Secondary School will make the move from Nanaimo’s Rotary Bowl stadium to the University of Hawaii next year to study international business and join the track team there.

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Grad will embrace, at a run, what’s next

Barsby’s Hope Stewart has learned lessons on the track that will keep serving her well

Hope Stewart is on track to achieve her dreams.

After the 17-year-old John Barsby student graduates this spring, she’ll be packing for a post-secondary education at the University of Hawaii where she’s won scholarships to study international business and join the school’s track and field team.

It’s a feat she’s been striving for since the sixth grade.

“I have been working towards going there as my main track and field and academic goal,” said Stewart, who says it’s very exciting to get the opportunity.

Stewart, a member of the Nanaimo Track and Field Club, has dedicated most of her days, weeks, months and years to the sport and it’s shaped a lot of who she is. It’s taught her to appreciate hard work and that no matter the challenge and how great it is, to face it head on.

“I’ve never been able to fall short basically of determination and drive from track, it has taught me discipline and respect of work,” she said.

But it was a trip to Guatemala last summer that sparked her interest in international business. She taught English as a volunteer with Creating Opportunities with Guatemalans, an organization that tries to help young students break out of poverty through education.

When she had the chance to meet and talk with the charity’s founder about how she got to where she was, Stewart learned the founder had a business degree. Stewart started to chart her own course.

“I became very inspired by her, and the ability through business to work around the world and help people seemed very exciting to me,” she said.

Stewart is no stranger to helping others. She has helped plan for her school’s visit from its sister school in Japan, has volunteered with the Northern Games and was a student representative for the John Barsby Wellness Centre.

In 2017, she heard about an effort to create bee-friendly schools during the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and she brought the buzz back to Barsby, helping it earn its stripes as the first designated Bee City School in B.C. as the co-chair of the John Bars-Bee Club. The club helps teach young students at Georgia Avenue about pollinators, plants and bees and was involved in helping refurbish John Barsby’s garden.

“It’s not just a respect for bees, it’s really just a respect for the world we live in,” said Stewart of the certification. “We have the power, as students at John Barsby, to make an impact in that and make a change.”

As she gets ready to leave the school, Stewart hopes the stamp she leaves is a message to have fun, try hard and make new friends – her personal motto.

“High school and, like, life, it’s exactly what you put in, it’s exactly what you make of it,” she said.

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