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Springdale, N.L. student tackles adversity with her mother by her side

Emily Rice, a student at Indian River High School in Springdale, was recently the recipient of two post-secondary scholarships.
Emily Rice, a student at Indian River High School in Springdale, was recently the recipient of two post-secondary scholarships. - Contributed

These are both exciting and nervous times for Emily Rice.

The Grade 12 student at Indian River High School in Springdale is approaching her graduation.

With that will come inevitable changes.

“Yeah, I don’t know if I’m ready,” the 18-year-old told The Central Voice with a laugh on Tuesday, March 5.

One goodbye – to her mother, Valetta Rice – will be particularly difficult.

“A lot of it is leaving my mom,” Emily says.

“She’s my best friend and someone who’s always been there for me. She’s my biggest supporter, so it’s going to be weird living without her.”

She has been accepted to Memorial University and is planning to move to St. John’s. Her end goal is a career in neurology or neuropsychology. She recently was the recipient of a pair of scholarships that will help her reach that objective.

At the end of January, Emily received a letter in the mail telling her she had earned a Joyce Foundation Bursary, a $5,000 scholarship available to students entering Memorial University. It’s renewable for up to four years.

That same night she checked her email and discovered she had won one of 160 Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarships, worth another $5,000.

“I got $25,000 in one day, so it’s pretty cool,” Emily said.

scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate a financial need and who have persevered through difficult circumstances.

Life hasn’t been easy for Emily or her mother.

“My dad isn’t in the picture, so it’s just me and my mom,” she said.

When she was in Grade 5, Emily’s brother died tragically. He was drugged in a restaurant in Ontario, fell into a coma and never recovered, she says.

And her mother was laid off from her job last year.

“Her unemployment (insurance benefits) just ran out, so we’re struggling a bit, you know,” she said.

To help make ends meet and save some money for school, Emily took a part-time job at a drugstore. She enjoyed the experience but her grades started to slip a bit, so she gave it up.

Despite the hardship, Emily says she’s dedicated to her studies and maintains around an 85 per cent average. Her favourite subjects are English and biology.

“I’ve always been like a writer, like a good writer. I’m a good English student, that’s where I excel at, I think, and sciences has always been something that I’m interested in, so biology is just pretty easy going to me,” she said.

Emily says she’ll miss watching television shows and driving around with her mom once she heads off to St. John’s.

When she needs some inspiration, however, she’ll only have to think about her best friend’s determination to succeed.

Her mother is completing an adult basic education program with plans to study office administration afterwards.

“Oh, my goodness, yes, I am so proud of her,” Emily says.

The sentiment surely goes both ways.

“I feel proud. I feel excited,” Valetta said in a message to The Central Voice over Facebook.

“I feel blessed to have such an amazing daughter. Despite her obstacles she has overcome so much already in her life. I know she will have a great future, she is determined and whatever challenges she may face she perseveres through them all.”

Valetta said she will continue to support her daughter and her dreams.

“I hope Emily achieves everything she sets out to do,” she said.

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