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University of King’s College first-year students Eliza Murray and Jessica General-Knickle are taking the first steps toward achieving their ambitious goals of becoming a lawyer and a university professor, respectively. Both of them are able to forge ahead with their career paths thanks to the Harrison McCain Scholar/Bursary.
Worth $16,000 over four years, the scholarship is granted to high school graduates in Canada who have a minimum admission average of 80 per cent, documented financial need and a recognized desire to fund their own education.
For 22-year-old Murray, enrolling at King’s and receiving the scholarship is a testament to her resilience and perseverance. In 2010, she left school when anxiety and depression overwhelmed her, then spent the next few years being homeschooled by a tutor before stopping in Grade 9.
“I’ve always loved reading and learning, but at that time I couldn’t manage school because of my mental health,” says Murray. In 2016, with the support of her mother and a therapist, she began the Nova Scotia Community College’s Adult Learning Program to earn her high school diploma. Her guidance counsellor there recommended that she apply to King’s.
Coincidentally, Murray’s single-parent mother, Mary Ellen MacIntyre, had started a journalism degree at King’s before Murray was born. Her daughter decided to apply to do her bachelor of arts degree here. “Halifax is home, and King’s is a beautiful campus,” says Murray. “I’d heard that King’s was small, which appealed to me, and people I know who had gone here had loved it.”
Murray was at her part-time job as a convenience-store cashier when she read the email that she had been awarded the scholarship. “I started crying in front of one of my regular customers,” she says. “Then I called my mom and told her to come to the store because I wanted to tell her in person, and we both cried. The scholarship was the difference between university or no university. It’s an honour to receive it.”
Today Murray’s sights are set on becoming a lawyer specializing in human rights or immigration law. “Because my mother was a journalist, growing up I was aware of the news stories she covered that affected women, children and immigrants. I want to help give a voice to people who don’t have one.”
Jessica General-Knickle first heard about King’s at her high school career fair in Dartmouth. When she told the King’s recruiters that she was interested in philosophy, they said she’d be a good fit because King’s specializes in the humanities. She was also attracted to the university’s close-knit community.
“There were 15 people in my Grade 12 class, and there are 15 people in my tutorials, so it isn’t a big change from high school,” says General-Knickle. “It’s fun because you get to know your classmates and the professors.”
When General-Knickle was looking for scholarships to apply for, she discovered that she met the criteria for the Harrison McCain Scholar/Bursary. “The others were very specific, but I don’t volunteer, I just go home and study. The Harrison McCain was only based on marks and financial need, so I’m really glad it exists.”
The email announcing that General-Knickle had been awarded the scholarship arrived in the middle of her high school English class. “I thought, I guess I can scream in my head!” she says. “When class ended, I texted my family. Receiving the scholarship helps me worry a lot less. It also made me realize that I’m ready to take this first step and to keep on going.”
Next steps include a master’s degree and a PhD so she can realize her dream of becoming a university professor. “I want to spread knowledge and love. Getting the scholarship is good motivation for me to go to all of my classes and tutorials, and to go deeper into my work than I did before.”