Brandon University is the latest to join Project Hero, a scholarship program that will provide full tuition for full or part-time students whose parents have died in Afghanistan while a member of the Canadian Forces.
“One of the important dynamics for Brandon is that we are very close to the community at Shilo,” said Dr. Scott Grills, vice-president (academics and research) at Brandon University.
“It’s an opportunity for Brandon University to recognize our place in the community, and to recognize the contribution that members of the Canadian Forces provide.”
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must have started their first year of study before the age of 21.
“We were looking to target students who were coming to us through a more traditional route and because we’re making a very long-term commitment here, we were looking to support young adults and their families,” said Grills.
The award is renewable to a maximum of 120 credit hours provided that the student remains in good academic standing with a minimum grade point average of 2.0.
“It’s a scholarship we are proud to give away, but we regret having to give away,” said Grills. “I would be happy if there were no eligible students as of tomorrow.”
The scholarship, named the Afghanistan Memorial Award, is part of the nationwide initiative Project Hero. It was established by Kevin Reed, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 31 Brigade, and retired general Rick Hillier.
Several universities across the country including Carleton, Concordia, Memorial and the University of Calgary have also come on board with the campaign and have set up similar scholarships. The scholarships are organized by internal resources at each university.
Carleton announced it would be making its scholarship available Aug. 26 of this year, and will be effective until August of 2014.
“Carleton has a long standing tradition of supporting the Canadian Forces. Our roots stem from educating Canadian veterans following WWII,” said Mandy Sinclair, a spokesperson for Carleton University.
“Participating in Project Hero is a fitting way to honour the memory of those brave Canadian men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice through military service.”
Concordia was the first university in Quebec to support Project Hero.
“I think the simple fact that people have paid the ultimate price for their country is reason enough for us to insist that their children get a higher education. It’s the least we can do,” said Chris Mota, a spokesperson for Concordia University.
To be eligible at Concordia, the applicant must be under 26 years of age. The scholarship allots the student $2,000 per year, for a maximum of four years.
“At that point they’re still considered independent students. After that age they become mature students; they’re often working full-time and studying part-time,” said Mota.
“It’s really to give young people who have been affected by the loss of a parent the chance to get a degree.”
Reactions to Brandon supporting the scholarship have been generally positive according to Grills.
“There have been comments about why so few universities have joined in and comments that people regret that we’re having to do this, and believing that the federal government should step in and do this independently of the universities.”