Lancer will get $20,000 for tuition and another $30,000 for food, shelter and a trip
Friday morning, Madelyn Schalk was wondering how she was going to manage university.
The Brooke-Alvinston teen is finishing up her senior year at LCCVI and plans to go to Western University to become a history teacher.
But, like almost every graduate, her plans hit a bump in the road when COVID-19 derailed school and her plans to pay for tuition. Schalk is a lifeguard and with community pools closed for the pandemic, she has no way to earn money for tuition.
“On Friday, I started kind of panicking a little because like, I was thinking about, oh, how am I going to pay for tuition and this and that, and I’m probably going to need to get like a new computer because I need a Chromebook. Is what I currently have going to be compatible with like what I have to do for university. And I was just really overwhelmed with how am I going to afford this? Oh my goodness, I don’t know what I’m doing. And I was just really panicked and the fact that I haven’t been able to work too,” says Schalk.
But her mom, Melanie, knew her grad didn’t have to worry. The organizers of the Canada’s Luckiest Student contest had called. Madelyn had won the grand prize worth $50,000 – $20,000 for tuition, living expenses and food, gift certificates for electronics and a trip to Europe.
For the past year, Madelyn had been answering trivia questions to be entered into the nation-wide draw and her name was picked. The film crew was coming Saturday to surprise her at her home.
So Melaine convinced Madelyn to dress up in her prom dress and go to Watford for a while to take graduation photos. When they came home, she told her grad, there would be a drive-by salute.
When they rolled down Petrolia Line, there were signs greeting them saying ‘Madelyn Schalk, your life is about to change.’
The Student Life Network met her in the driveway and stunned her and some of her favourite teachers with the news.
“It was insane,” she says. “I was kind of overwhelmed. I don’t know how all my answers came out. (SLN was filming the event to stream it on Tuesday.) I’m not sure how well that turned out because I was in awe.
“It was wild because like, I had no idea, not even like the slightest indication.”
Madelyn’s mom says while the win was completely random, her daughter has worked hard and she’s glad she is receiving this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“She works really, really hard,” says Melaine.
LCCVI Principal Greg Nemcek agrees saying Madelyn is a dedicated student.
“She’s in the band and she’s there all the time…that takes a lot of determination for a kid to get out – I’m sure she’s got to get up at 4:30 or five to be at the school by seven so that she could do band and everything,” he says.
“And she worked very hard in her classes. Her academic achievements are in the top 10 percentile of the school like she’s very, very smart and works very, very hard at her classes. Extremely hard.”
Madelyn says the cash for tuition eases a huge burden for her. But she’s also very excited about winning a trip to Europe.
“I’m really excited for when COVID restrictions lift, because I always wanted to like go to the Netherlands, because that’s where my grandparents came from.”
Schalk expects the Europe trip will likely have to wait until next summer, but she’s okay with that.
And she’s marvelling how her life changed from worry on Friday to joy and relief on Saturday.
“On Saturday when I found out it’s just like, I can’t believe it. Just that morning, it really was like a normal day, I had finished up an assignment. I spend like a few hours on it that morning and enrolled in my classes for Western. And then that afternoon I’m like, wait a second what?
“It almost doesn’t seem real at this point in time,” says Schalk. It’s not anything I would have ever expected.”