As scholarships go, and as one past recipient put it, the Sobey Family Scholarship is, “a big win.” Awarded on the basis of proven leadership skills, significant involvement in school or community activities and academic achievement, this substantial scholarship generates a lot of excitement among both students and their families. No surprise then that awardees, both current and past, remember clearly the moment they heard they’d won.
“I was in class and I stepped out into the hallway to take a call,” says Celia Fournier, one of two 2022 recipients, from Fredericton, New Brunswick. “I was alone in the stairwell. I was listening to what they were saying and I didn’t quite believe it.” She took a minute, sat down on the steps and then called her parents. “We were all crying.” When the bell rang, she found a group of friends. “They dragged me through the hall yelling and screaming about it. I was embarrassed at the time but now it’s a really happy memory.”
A few months into King’s Foundation Year Program (FYP), Fournier is certain she made the right choice. “I want to go into publishing and become a book editor,” she explains. “I grew up with a love of stories and FYP is full of stories, the books that shaped the modern world and the literary world as well. It’s going to be incredibly helpful.” Fournier is on solid footing with her editorial intentions; she was the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. In fact, she founded it, taking the idea to administration and students alike. “I was always seeking out opportunities to write at school and there just weren’t many. I wanted to make a space for like-minded kids,” she explains. She’s planning a double major in English and Creative Writing and wants to explore film studies. “I’m hungry to learn about every aspect, every genre of creating and editing stories.”
Fournier made the decision to come to King’s in the first moments of a campus tour. “I loved the size of the campus and the sense of community was so obvious. I knew I would benefit from the smaller classes …” She loves the tutorial system whereby she shares her academic experience with 15 fellow students throughout the year. She’s learning to navigate dorm life, she says. “Everyone is so incredibly kind,” she says. “I feel like I could knock on anyone’s door if I needed something.”
While she intends to make time to explore the city, for now, Fournier is happy spending most of her time on campus. “It feels like a wonderful bubble in the middle of the city,” she says. “We talk about fascinating things I’ve never thought about. Just walking through the tables in the dining hall…I mean, you’ll hear inside jokes about Dante,” she laughs. “I never would have expected it.”
For newly minted Sobey scholar Sydney Haines, the news of her award was, as she puts it, quite the shock. “I was already at King’s, the semester had started, so scholarships weren’t on my mind at all,” she explains. “I was sitting in the Quad with friends, discussing The Iliad, working on the reading for the next day. Suddenly I got a phone call and got the news. I told my friends and their jaws dropped. I called my parents. What an exciting day.”
Haines, from South Rawdon, Nova Scotia, came to King’s and the Foundation Year Program with a clear picture of what she was getting into. “I was at my sister’s high school volleyball game and I saw someone in a King’s sweatshirt. I didn’t know anything about King’s so I looked it up online. I saw that they offered a Humanities For Young People program for kids 15–17 in the summer and I thought that was a really cool idea so I went. It was kind of ‘FYP light’ with 40 kids living in residence and going to lectures and tutorials and other activities. I’ve always loved the classics and it gave me a taste of the academic program and a feeling for what life is like at King’s.”
To call Haines an avid reader is to understate; her university end goal is to become a librarian and her interest in books and libraries started early. “My middle school was beside our public library and I started doing volunteer work after school helping them reshelve books, pull holds, run programs for younger readers. I was involved in my school library as well. I loved it all. I love the idea of being able to put the right book in the hands of someone who needs it.”
As for FYP, it appears to be tailor-made for Haines. “It’s like skipping stones across the humanities pond,” she enthuses. “You touch on everything and deep dive with particular texts, ending up with a taste for what you really like. It’s ideal in that your first year isn’t spent in individual classes you don’t end up liking. And it’s so great to be with a group of like-minded people.” A lover of politics and political thought, Haines is eagerly awaiting those sections of the program.
Something else Haines was quick to observe at King’s was a very welcoming and open environment. Haines has been singing at the campus event Queereoke and plans on getting involved with the Pride Society. “As a person who is part of the Queer community, I noticed that King’s is, in that way, a thriving and open community. You can sense the allyship.”