Giving Day gives hope and motivation to Selkirk College learners
Just a few years after roaming the halls of the Castlegar campus and still on an education journey towards its ultimate goal, Selkirk College alumnus Darren Paterson is giving back to the community that holds a special place in his heart.
Now a doctoral student at York University in Toronto, Paterson earned a two-year Associate of Arts degree from Selkirk College in 2016. Receiving the generosity of donors while taking her first steps into post-secondary education, Paterson started a scholarship to Selkirk College in hopes of providing the same basic support he received.
“It’s about trying to propel people into something bigger,” Paterson says.
“Students are entering the first two years of post-secondary and it’s scary because it’s something new. But all these students are trying to grow, they are trying to improve. They are people who train their minds and train their hearts, so that they too can have something to give back.
Giving Day at Selkirk College is May 12, a square in the calendar where post-secondary education reaches out to the community for specific needs that will help learners achieve their educational goals.
To help unlock the potential of tomorrow’s leaders, the college has set a $32,000 goal that will focus on reducing food insecurity, improving mental health and well-being, supporting students indigenous peoples and the promotion of digital equity.
The 24-Hour Fundraising Challenge is an annual event that calls on the community to lend a helping hand to those working to become essential contributing members in a wide variety of careers.
Kootenay Savings Credit Union is one of many community sponsors stepping up to support Giving Day 2022.
“Everyone deserves an equal chance to become the person they want to be, achieve their dreams and build the career they want,” says Aron Burke, Community Liaison Officer for Kootenay Savings Credit Union.
“It has never been more important to support the health and well-being of students so that they persevere in their educational journey and become the future health workers, educators, entrepreneurs, artists and trades workers who will help our communities to thrive.
An impossible task without assistance
Paterson embarked on a post-secondary education shortly after graduating from high school with the idea of becoming a physical education teacher. Unconvinced of his background and quickly running out of funds to support his studies, he instead spent most of his twenties traveling, doing odd jobs and trying new experiences.
He moved from the west coast of British Columbia to Nelson at the age of 29 and had an epiphany. Realizing his true love of literature, he set himself the lofty goal of earning a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in England. To get started, he turned to Selkirk College and its excellent creative writing program.
“Selkirk College is very intimate, you’re able to build relationships with your instructors and other students,” Paterson says of his two years at the Castlegar campus.
“Since then, I’ve been to three other universities and it’s become a lot less personal, a lot more detached. That deep compassion that the instructors at Selkirk College have, that deep care that they had in helping me achieve my goal, I will never forget that time in my life. It gave me purpose and focus, where all of a sudden I was really inspired to succeed.
Outside the classroom, Paterson’s ultimate goal was more precarious. Although an education at Selkirk College is an affordable option, like many students, Paterson turned to the Financial Aid Service for scholarship support.
“The support always seemed to come at the perfect time, when I wasn’t sure I could pay my electric bill or get groceries,” he says of financial hardship.
“How the community comes together to support students really makes a difference. Sometimes it’s just getting through the month that provides the motivation to continue your journey to achieve your goals.
After graduating from Selkirk College, Paterson received her Bachelor of Arts from UBC Okanagan and her Masters in English Literature from the University of Victoria.
As his own education continued, Paterson and his wife decided to establish a scholarship at Selkirk College to provide continued support for students following in his footsteps. An act of gratitude he felt compelled to try to provide.
He has twice been accepted into the University of Cambridge as a PhD student, but the tuition fees for international students are always beyond his reach. Completing his freshman year at York University, Paterson received a generous research scholarship that provided him with some financial security.
A proud Selkirk College alumnus, Paterson says his time at the Castlegar campus holds a huge place in his heart. Not ruling out a future return as an instructor himself, Paterson pledged to pay for the support he received.
“That’s what makes Selkirk College amazing,” says Paterson.
“I came in with a purpose, one that was very noble. The Selkirk College community went out of their way and gave me everything I needed to achieve this goal. You wouldn’t think a small rural college could catapult you to these kinds of heights, but they gave me everything I needed for my trip. I believe that’s what most students want, to eventually give back and contribute to that supportive community. »
The public can find more information about Giving Day 2022 and support Selkirk College students by going to: https://selkirk.ca/givingday