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Aboriginal scholarship success

By Moira Finn

The international bachelor of business administration (iBBA) program provides a global perspective on business and is a popular choice for students planning to work abroad after graduation.

But for Brendan Pike it was the idea of learning best practices in international business and using that knowledge for the benefit of communities closer to home that drew him to Memorial's iBBA program – one of only three international business undergraduate programs offered in Canada.

"Take a macro view and apply it at the micro level," explained the fourth-year student who fulfilled the iBBA's required study-abroad component with a semester at a Faculty of Business Administration partner university in Lyon, France.

Born in Corner Brook and brought up in Gander, Mr. Pike is a member of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band and is the first recipient of the Faculty of Business Administration Aboriginal Scholarship.

While grateful for the scholarship's financial award – already allocated to help with living and tuition expenses – Mr. Pike says it is more than just the money that matters.

"The scholarship is significant to me because it is an acknowledgement of the hard work over the past few years and I am encouraged to go further in university and apply for other scholarships and funding opportunities," he said.
Among the options the 22-year-old is considering are entrepreneurial pursuits or a law degree, with the aim of specializing in trade, immigration or public policy.

The Faculty of Business Administration Aboriginal Scholarship was launched in 2012 and is awarded to a full-time undergraduate or graduate student in the business faculty who is a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador and achieves high academic standing. Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean, Faculty of Business Administration, created the scholarship to encourage greater participation by Aboriginal students in business programs, while also rewarding the success of Aboriginal students already in the faculty.

"Business studies provide a broad array of career opportunities plus the management, strategic decision-making and leadership skills we teach are real assets for young people wanting to make a difference in their communities or the world," Dr. Zerbe said. "Brendan serves as an example to other Aboriginal people of the benefits of a business degree and the choices it affords. We are pleased to help support his academic pursuits."

In addition to the new Aboriginal scholarship, the Faculty of Business Administration has increased research and other engagement initiatives with Aboriginal groups, government agencies and businesses, especially in Labrador.
"Indigenous issues are international issues, as bodies like the UN recognize, and I applaud the leadership Dr. Zerbe has shown in this area," said Maura Hanrahan, Memorial University's special adviser to the president on Aboriginal affairs.

"Business is not necessarily a traditional area of study for indigenous people but it is a good fit for them, whether they want to bring their skills and expertise back to their home communities and indigenous governments or work on a more international scale.

"Whatever path Brendan chooses, I am sure he will find a way to make a difference for indigenous peoples – something he has already started here."