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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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October 30, 2003


Memorial entrance-scholarship winners feted at luncheon

By Leslie McNab
Special to the Gazette

Memorial University's entrance-scholarship winners are more than just students with good grades – they're people committed to making a difference in their communities. And to recognize their many achievements, the university honoured its first-year internal scholarship recipients with a luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 16, in the main dining hall of R. Gushue Hall on the St. John’s campus.

The luncheon event was part of the two-week annual Celebrate Memorial festival, which celebrates the university’s significant connections and contributions to the community.

One of the students honoured at the event was 18-year-old Niraj Shukla, who is in his first year of Memorial’s nursing program. He is the recipient of the university's John Lewis Paton Scholarship, as well as two external awards – the Canada Merit Foundation Scholarship, Regional Award; and the Canada Millenium Foundation, National Award.

Born in Rajkot, India, Mr. Shukla came to Canada at age five. His family settled in St. John’s, where Mr. Shukla quickly became an active member of his adopted community. As a student at Gonzaga High School, Mr. Shukla was instrumental in bringing partners together to create Students for Other Students (SOS), a free tutoring program for less-fortunate junior high students in St. John’s. As well, his awareness of the community problems created by underage drinking and drug use led to his work in creating the St. John’s Safe Homes Program, which provides information to junior high students and assists them in saying no to peer pressure. This program is used in junior high schools throughout St. John’s, and has gained the attention and support of the Avalon East School Board and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Mr. Shukla said he is happy to be studying nursing at Memorial, and feels honoured to be a scholarship recipient. He credits his high-school guidance counsellor with helping him to become aware of the various scholarship opportunities available, and said his community involvement definitely played a role in opening these opportunities up. “There are plenty of ways people can become involved in giving back to the community,” he said. “Scholarships are a nice recognition that reward the person you are.”

The number of entrance scholarships at Memorial (awarded to students whose admission average is 85 per cent or higher) has grown steadily over the past six years, as a result of the university’s successful Opportunity Fund campaign, which has raised some $15 million for the scholarships and fellowships program. In 1997-98, when the campaign began, 191 entrance scholarships were awarded for a total of $375,500; by 1999-2000 – the conclusion of the campaign – the number had almost tripled to 459 scholarships totalling $933,350. This year, Memorial has awarded over 600 entrance scholarships.

University president Dr. Axel Meisen said the growth in Memorial’s scholarship program reflects the generosity of its donors within the larger community, a group which includes individuals, companies, associations and the provincial government. “Their tangible and moral support for university education is both heart-warming and appreciated,” he said.


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Next issue: November 13, 2003

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