For Lacey Simpson of English Harbour East, the loss of her mother to cancer when she was only 13 had a profound impact on her young life.
“It was hard to cope without having my Mom because I was very close with her and she would help me out with school work, but when she passed I had to be a lot more independent,” Lacey said.
Up to that point she always found school tough, but after losing her mother Lacey found it increasingly difficult.
“It was really stressful and made it hard to concentrate in school and my grades suffered,” she said.
Lacey explained that it took some time but eventually she was able to turn things around.
“I became determined to get good grades, and started to be able to become more focused on my school (work),” Lacey said. “Now in Level I, II and III I have been on the honour roll with a 90 plus average.”
Lacey said going to school in a small town on the Burin Peninsula can also present a challenge as some of her courses are offered through web-based learning.
“I had English in the classroom last year and I had a 96, and this year I am doing it online and I have an 87, so it definitely makes it more difficult,” she explained. “I find it really hard to focus — when you have to stare at a computer for an hour straight. My online courses are back-to-back, so sometimes it’s two hours in a row just sitting on a chair looking at the computer.”
She added that if school is closed she still has to log in for the online classes because they are not impacted by weather.
“In English Harbour East — we have satellite internet — so on snow days our internet doesn’t even work, so I’ll miss class on snow days and then I’ll get behind,” she said.
Despite the challenges, Lacey was recently announced as one of the recipients of the Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarship in the amount of $5,000.
According to information on the organizations website, the scholarship is presented to deserving high school students in financial need who have overcome significant adversity while demonstrating strength of character, strong academics, a commitment to pursuing higher education, as well as a desire to contribute to society.
Lacey is also a recipient of the Joyce Foundation Bursary valued at up to $25,000.
Simpson, who has been pre-accepted to Memorial University, said receiving the scholarships has alleviated some of the financial worry about going to university.
“It takes a lot of stress off going into school because money has always been a big problem for me growing up,” she said. “I don’t need to worry about money as much.”
Lacey plans to pursue a bachelor of sciences degree at MUN, and eventually would like to go into dentistry or become a veterinarian.
“I have always been interested in anything like biology, (and) I always like helping out people and animals— so I just feel like it would be a job suited for me.”