RAYS supports students in colleges, skilled trades

 In Community

RAYS, Resources for Area Youth Success, is a Creemore based program perhaps best known for its support of university-bound students. The program awards four local scholars each year with $20,000 paid over four years to help with their post-secondary education. But Christine Jenkins, of the RAYS Bursary Committee, says the group also provides important support to students headed for community colleges or skilled trade apprenticeships.

Recently, two students who have been helped by the RAYS Bursary Program shared their stories.

Alesha Gibson recently joined Specsavers in Barrie as an optician, following successful completion of the Opticianry program at Georgian College. A graduate of Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI), Gibson is grateful for the financial support of $1,000 for her first year of college and $1,500 for the second year, but she really values the mentorship aspect of the RAYS program.

“Beginning college during COVID had me feeling alone and overwhelmed. Online classes proved to be even more challenging than I expected. For most of my first semester I felt I was in over my head and seriously considered dropping out, and starting again when COVID was finished,” said Gibson. “When I didn’t know if I could continue, my RAYS mentor provided me with the support and encouragement I needed to finish the semester. Now I am happier than ever that I stayed in the program. I love what I do! I’m not sure I could be saying this same thing without the mentorship and support from RAYS. I am so grateful for my experience.”

Quinn Boileau, also an SCI graduate and RAYS bursary recipient, is an apprentice cabinet maker at AV Custom Woodworking in Creemore, having recently completed two months of study at Conestoga College to obtain a Cabinet Apprenticeship Level One ticket.

While working at AV Custom Woodworking, Boileau is learning to build, repair, finish and install cabinets, read drawings and operate power and computerized woodworking equipment.

Boileau says, “I love my work. [I like] being able to imagine things and turn ideas into something from nothing.”

RAYS supported Boileau with a bursary of $1,000 to help with the costs of tools and transportation expenses. Eventually, he hopes to operate his own business, and believes that the advice of his mentor, particularly in the area of time management, will be invaluable. He will continue to meet with his RAYS mentor at least every three months as he completes the apprenticeship process.

Bursary applications are accepted at any time but Jenkins says preference will be given to applications received before May 3.

Applications for RAYS scholarships are also due May 3. Jenkins says the process is multi faceted, and encourages students to use time off during the March Break to get started on their applications. The application must include a personal essay, a letter of recommendation from a teacher, principal or guidance counsellor, and an employer or volunteer organization, in addition to proof of academic achievement and an offer of admission from a recognized university.”

Details on the application process and forms may be found at raysscholarships.com.

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