Fewer Nicol scholars to be named at LCCVI in 2017

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One of the most coveted scholarships in Lambton County is a little smaller this year.
As the evaluation committee of the Nicol Scholarship pores over this year’s entries, there is word just two scholars will receive the $10,000 award – one from the Nicol Trust, the other given back to the trust for a student scholarship by the Town of Petrolia.
When the scholarship fund was first set up, 10 young people heading to college received the cash to help cover educational expenses. Last year, just three scholarships were awarded.
Principal Linda Jared says this year, the Nicol Trust will hand out just one. Jared says the investment fund simply has not grown enough to hand out more.
“When the stock market has done well and the investment has done well, then they can give out more,” she says. “They’re being conservative, which keeps it going, which is a good thing.” Jared is thankful Petrolia town councillors agreed to turn over a portion of its Nicol cash during the last budget session to increase the number of scholarships.
But the declining number of awards has some students calling on the public to help out. Kelly Wilks will graduate this year.
She’s one of what she estimates to be at least 15 people who applied for the scholarship. Wilks will be studying human rights and pursuing a law degree at Wilfred Laurier and then the University of Sussex.
Wilks remembers her sister winning the award and attending the reception. Her mom inspired her to work hard so one day she too could be a winner.
She’s been keeping her grades up and working three jobs to help pay her way.
“Honestly, it would be incredible,” she says of the possibility of becoming a Nicol Scholar. “It would go such a long way.”
And while she is hopeful she may be one of the 2017 scholars, she worries the Nicol fund will dry up and students won’t have the opportunity to become a Nicol Scholar in the future.
Wilks hopes people will see this year’s numbers and consider donating to the fund as a way to help their community grow.
Former Nicol Scholar Lindsay Core started a campaign to have former scholars contribute to perpetuate the fund. Wilks says it is an excellent way to help young people just getting their start.
“I know a couple donations won’t help to have another scholarship this year, but there are a lot of students, like me, who want to do big things…I’m hoping to get the awareness out there that you don’t have to be a Nicol Scholar to donate.
“And it goes a long way to help the community.”
For more information on the scholarship you can go to www.nicol-scholarship.com.
And while LCCVI’s principal having fewer scholarship makes the decisions more difficult for the selection committee, she’s hopeful the new rules around the Ontario Student Assistance Program – OSAP – will help more students get through college and university with less debt.
“At this time, it looks like it will be much better for families that are struggling,” she says adding much of the money will be available upfront instead of after the bills are paid making it easier for families.

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