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RAYS scholars adapt to education disruption

For the eight RAYS scholarship recipients who are wrapping up their first, second or third year at university, COVID-19 has meant significant change.

To their great credit, they have adapted, persevered and risen to the challenge. We asked three of these students to share their challenges, how they coped and how they are planning to spend their summer.

Rylie Farness, who graduated from Collingwood Collegiate Institute (CCI) and is completing first year in social work at Nippising University said, “the speed of change was a big challenge for me. One day we were in classes as usual and two days later, everything flipped, and we were on-line. Another was keeping motivated, when you don’t have to get up to go to class each morning.”

A couple of her exams were cancelled and replaced with additional assignments. One class used an online platform with a web-cam observation tool and another, a written exam was based on end-of-term material which she learned on her own from a power point presentation.

“One felt unusual,” she said, “and both were stressful.”

Farness is fortunate to have a full-time job this summer which starts immediately after her exams are over. She will be helping all of us get the things we need while working at an area pharmacy, returning to the summer job she had last year.

The biggest problem for Tim Speyer, a first-year student at Carlton University, studying Aerospace Engineering, was a technical one – home internet connectivity. Particularly at exam time.

“Having to wait, and wait for an entire exam to load, then reload, proved to be time consuming and frustrating,” he says.
Speyer graduated from Stayner Collegiate Institute where he was never a fan of on-line learning, but he stressed how “super supportive” his profs had been, “making videos available to students at all times.” Despite the computer frustrations, his multiple-choice exams, which were all on-line, are done. His summer plans? “I am fortunate to have a job. It will be delayed in starting so I will fill in the time with an online course”.

Hailey Sacerty, another CCI grad, is completing her second year in the nursing program at Mohawk/McMaster. The transition to online lectures was an easy one, as she was familiar with the format.

“All our lectures this year have been recorded and available to us for later reference,” she said. Her challenge however, was similar to what Farness experienced. She discovered studying alone at home felt optional and required a healthy dose of self-discipline.

She missed the stimulation and encouragement that comes from studying in a group. When her exams are over at the end of the month, Sacerty starts work as a health care aid at St. Joseph Hospital in Hamilton. She was one of 20 fortunate students chosen for a McMaster University program that employs student nurses for each of the summers they are at university, putting them in line for a staff position when they become registered nurses. Well done, Hailey!

RAYS board, committee members, sponsors and mentors congratulate all students who have completed their year while coping with the upheaval that COVID-19 has imposed.

A reminder for Grade 12 students who reside in our catchment area and attend Collingwood Collegiate Institute, Stayner Collegiate Institute, Jean Vanier Catholic High School or Centre Dufferin District High School – applications for 2020 scholarships and bursaries are due May 1.

By Anna Hobbs