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RAYS bursary students following their dreams

Creemore Echo  November 12, 2019

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Many high school students are encouraged to go to university but some aren’t sure of what they want to do and what other options there are.

RAYS bursary recipient Michael Noble is planning on taking his third level of welding certification in 2020 and believes trades are where there are many opportunities and greatest area of growth.
Noble says he knew he was interested in welding at age of 13. He helped fix things at his family farm and gives credit to his high school shop teacher for encouraging his interest in welding.

In Grade 12, Noble was able to obtain a duo credit in shop at high school and at Conestoga College where he learnt more about trades programs with emphasis on welding, HVAC and electrical.
Ryan Gillis spent his summers working at Camp Maple Leaf where he developed a passion for helping youth with unique challenges. He’s another RAYS recipient and is in his first year of a three-year program at Fleming College in Peterborough to become a Child and Youth Care Worker.

“I am loving the program. It’s everything I wanted it to be. I’m surrounded by people with similar values and beliefs in wanting to work with youth at risk or with special needs. It’s all established on working on the youth’s strength and by focusing on what they are doing right can develop and improve their situation,” said Gillis.

RAYS second year bursary recipient, Hannah Stockford (above), is in her second year in Fish and Wildlife Technologies at Fleming College.

“I’ve always had a natural curiosity for the natural world, but it wasn’t until Grade 9 that I realized I could turn this curiosity into a career. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with Long Point Bird Observatory doing bird banding. It was there, specifically during the young ornithologist workshop I did in 2017, I realized that I loved educating people about the natural world around them,” she shared.
When asked how they learned about RAYS, both Gillis and Stockford mentioned Stayner Collegiate Institute informed them about RAYS.

Noble had a different story. He was apprenticing at Howie’s Welding Shop when RAYS Board Member and Chair of the Bursary Committee, Nick Forrest, brought in something he wanted repaired.
Noble said, “I had already completed my first level in the welding program at Conestoga College where I learned welding skills, blue print reading and welding theory and was working on completing my required 5,200 hours of apprenticeship.

Forrest was interested in learning more about my program and the requirements, and next time he was in the shop, Forrest brought me an application form.” Noble continued, “Forrest’s interest in me extends beyond the bursary, he’s still asking me how I am doing.”

Noble went on to say, “the RAYS bursary contributed to my second level of welding certification which was a six-week block program held at Cambrian College in Sudbury.”

Stockford added, “College can be expensive, so a bursary from RAYS provided some peace of mind going into my first and second years. Additionally, RAYS provided me with a support system that I can count on every step of the way. It’s reassuring to know that there is a community of people that have my back when things get tough.”

When asked what advice they would give high school students, Gillis says, “don’t feel nervous about applying for a RAYS bursary. You won’t get one if you don’t apply.”

Stockford adds, “Don’t worry about picking a career that is easy to get. Do what you want! If there is something you want to do and you’re passionate about it, the little details will work themselves out.”
With regards to RAYS, Stockford states, “The network of people at RAYS are fabulous and are so supportive. When you’re awarded a bursary, you get paired up with a mentor who is able to help you and give you advice along the way.”

RAYS, Resources for Area Youth Success, is a Creemore-based charity that invests in youth for a brighter future. Over the past seven years (to end of 2018), RAYS has attracted over $350,000 and awarded 18 university scholarships and 27 bursaries.  Sandra Webster