Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarship offers ‘unique opportunity’ for two first year students

Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarship offers 'unique opportunity' for two first year students

Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarship is a major scholarship at King’s. A pair of students from western Canada explain how this scholarship has helped them have the King’s Experience.

As a high school student in Lethbridge, Alta., Dylan Taylor began researching Canadian journalism schools, and “King’s jumped out as a high-calibre institution,” he says. It didn’t hurt that a friend’s mother told him she had heard great things about the Foundation Year Program:

“It sounded like a unique opportunity,” says Taylor. “I was set on going to King’s this year regardless of whether or not I got a scholarship.”

Dylan Taylor

The good news? Taylor did get a scholarship—the Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarship, worth $50,000 over four years. He almost missed the call from King’s Vice President Peter O’Brien because when his phone rang, he was playing drums in his parents’ garage. “It was utter disbelief,” the 18-year-old says of his response to the good news. “My hands were shaking, and my mom cried when I told her. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

The award means Taylor doesn’t have to worry about working part-time or applying for a student loan during his honours journalism degree. Instead, he’s using his extracurricular time to be a staff reporter for the student-run The Watch, an independent newsmagazine. “I wouldn’t be able to sink fully into the King’s experience otherwise, so it’s a big relief.”

Although Taylor could have attended virtual classes from home, he really wanted to live on campus. Even though he is still taking his classes virtually, “living in residence among peers, digesting different ideas and concepts, is crucial for me,” he says. The friendly conversations about readings he can have with fellow students face to face (from a safe distance during the pandemic, of course) help, says Taylor, “because you’re living in the same space, doing the same essays and eating in the dining hall together.” Although he finds the pandemic protocols challenging at times—“the rules can be prohibitive socially”—he says everyone understands why they’re in place and are willing to make concessions to stay safe.

One of Taylor’s favourite things about King’s is something others might dread, but not unusual for someone planning a career driven by deadlines. “I love the FYP essay crunches where everyone is stressing out, working hard and getting down to it,” he says. “People are helping each other and sharing ideas, and there’s great energy in that.”

As for the future, Taylor wants to write newspaper and magazine features about topics he’s passionate about, such as music and politics. “I’m excited to see where learning at King’s takes me,” he says.

“King’s has an intriguing program, and a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary approach that appealed to me,” Ella Winham said. 

If Ella Winham hadn’t received a Donald R. Sobey Family Scholarship, the first-year King’s Foundation Year Program student wouldn’t have been able to move to Halifax and live on campus in Alex Hall. Instead, she would be learning in virtual classrooms from her Vancouver home.

“I’m so grateful that I can be here,” says Winham, who turned 18 in December. “The four-hour time difference would have made online learning difficult.” Even with pandemic safety protocols in place, she is enjoying the opportunities to feel part of the King’s community.

In mid-October leading up to Halloween, Winham took part in a socially distanced “scary story circle” organized by the don of another residence and attended by around 15 students, who sat in chairs in the quad a safe distance apart. “It’s a weird time, but it’s still possible to have fun,” she says.

Ella Winham with Finnegan

Five months earlier, in May, Winham was at home in Vancouver when she missed a phone call from King’s Vice President Peter O’Brien. When she returned his call and learned that she would be receiving the scholarship, worth $50,000 over four years, she had to sit down before sharing the news with her parents, brother and sister. “It was a big shock!” she says. “I might have cried.”

Winham feels at home both in Halifax and at King’s. Her mother earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree here, and her grandmother lives in Bedford, while other relatives are spread across Nova Scotia. “King’s has an intriguing program, and a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary approach that appealed to me,” she says. “I really get the sense that all of the professors and tutors are rooting for us, and I’m being pushed to do my best.”

Winham plans to continue with an interdisciplinary approach to her degree. She chose an introductory sustainability course at Dalhousie’s College of Sustainability as her elective and is considering a double major in Environment, Sustainability and Society, and biology.

In the meantime, she’s relieved that, thanks to her generous scholarship, she didn’t have to look for a part-time job or apply for a student loan. “The financial support has allowed me to devote my time to my studies,” she says. “I feel a sense of responsibility to do well.”

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