2023 RAYS scholars, bursary winners hit the books

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The latest crop of RAYS scholars are off to make their marks on the world, with some help from a Creemore based not-for-profit.

Resources for Area Youth Success (RAYS) started as a program to provide summer jobs for students in 2008. Since then, it has evolved into an organization that has given $500,000 to local students pursuing post secondary education.

Chair Barbara Lemaire says a group of volunteers committed to helping youth achieve their potential raises about $100,000 each year to fund the program. There are donors who have been with them from the start, and new donors are constantly joining. She says RAYS has substantially deepened and broadened its reach within the community over the last 10 years. Following a recent article about RAYS in The Globe and Mail, Lemaire was contacted by people from across Canada wanting advice on how to start similar programs in their communities.

Each year, three local students are selected to receive scholarships of $20,000 over four years to help with the cost of university. Students are selected through a rigorous process which considers not just academic performance during their high school years but employment history and community involvement. Once selected, scholarship students are encouraged to have ongoing relationships with their sponsors, and are assigned mentors to work with them throughout their post- secondary journey. They are required to maintain good academic standing and provide regular progress reports.

Students are also encouraged to give back by becoming ambassadors for the program. Many students report that the mentoring is at least as important as the financial support. The transition to university life can be a difficult one for some students and a mentor can help with practical advice. Mentors may be able to open doors for students and connect them with people in their chosen field.

In addition to the scholarships, the program awards one-time bursaries and awards of merit, typically given to students who will be attending trade schools or apprenticeship programs.

Since the first scholarships were awarded in 2012, Lemaire says the graduation and completion rate has been impressive.

Applications for next year’s scholarships and bursaries open in November at raysscholarships.com.


Justin Rowbotham – Collingwood Collegiate Institute grad Justin Rowbotham is enrolled at Western University in the Computer Science Program.

Fisher Monahan – Stayner Collegiate Institue grad Fisher Monahan is enolled at Lakehead University in the Bachelor of Arts Program.

Addison Payment – Stayner Collegiate Institute grad Addison Payment is enrolled at University of Toronto in the Studies in Life Sciences Program.

Awards of Merit

Marcus White – Our Lady of the Bay grad Marcus White is enrolled at University of Toronto in the Studies in Life Sciences Program.

Alexis Proud – Stayner Collegiate Institute grad Alexis Proud is enrolled at OCADU in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Drawing and Painting Program.

Bursary winners

Connor Walker – Stayner Collegiate Institute grad Connor Walker is enrolled at University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus for an Associate Diploma in Agriculture.

Natalie Carlson – Stayner Collegiate Institute grad Natalie Carlson is enrolled at Ridgetown College in Environmental Management.

Taylor Borges – after working as Physiotherapy assistant at Creedon Valley, Taylor Borges is enrolled at Georgian College Barrie in Bachelor of Science/Nursing.

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