Saint John grads credit teen resource centre for scholarship success

Nine teenagers who found encouragement from a Saint John drop-in centre have a lot to celebrate as their school year comes to an end.

9 students receive $108,000 in scholarships, with possibly more to come

Graduates Rebecca Thibodeau and Sami Awad say counsellors at the Saint John Teen Resource Centre encouraged them to apply for as many scholarships as they could. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Nine teenagers who found encouragement from a Saint John drop-in centre have a lot to celebrate as their school year comes to an end. 

Not only are they graduating from high school but between them, they have accumulated a total of $108,000 in scholarships, all with the support of a local drop-in centre. 

"It was a lot of work, it was a lot of late nights," said Rebecca Thibodeau, who will be graduating from Saint John High School.

Thibodeau said she was encouraged to pursue scholarships by counsellors at the Saint John Teen Resource Centre in the Waterloo Village neighbourhood. The centre offers after school programs for students in middle school and high school and encourages growth and community involvement.

"They've basically been on us like 'listen, you can get this money if you just do it.'"

A small group of students in Saint John have a number of reasons to celebrate as their school year comes to an end. 0:32

As a result, Thibodeau applied for as many scholarships as possible — and will begin university with a $26,000 scholarship. 

"It was a lot, but I'm glad that I got to do it because I could experience things. And I learned stuff about myself that I didn't know and I also got to like tell people things that I feel like they should know about me."

The future nursing student said the centre is an outlet and a place she goes almost everyday.

"Basically, the scholarship is what's driving me to go to school, because like I don't want to ever have the financial barrier, but there was definitely one there," she said. "And it's kind of like the biggest sigh of relief I could ever have, that money tucked away, and I know what it's towards is my future and it's, you know, going to help out a lot."

Nine students with scholarships

There are nine students that drop in to the centre regularly. All have succeeded in getting a scholarship, including Sami Awad, who received a $40,000 Lord Beaverbrook Scholarship from UNB.

"I've definitely been worried about how I'm going to find the money for university, so this takes a lot of the burden off of that, which is really nice."

The Saint John Teen Resource Centre offers a drop-in program for middle school and high school students. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Awad said she first started going to the centre because a friend of hers wanted to see it.

"Then I just kept going all through high school. And we do a lot of volunteering through the TRC too, so that always helped me get involved in the community and I liked that, so I kept coming."

The soon-to-be graduate of St. Malachy's Memorial High School said the centre offers a lot of support for people.

"So whatever you're going through, you can always just come and have like a safe space to talk about it and take your mind off of it," she said. "And if you're having trouble with anything, they'll always try to help out."

The teen centre's drop-in co-ordinator said with graduation ceremonies starting this weekend the total amount of the scholarships could grow.

With files from Matthew Bingley