2021 Nicol scholars’ dreams rooted in Lambton and beyond

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Janessa Labadie, Asia Maheu, Peyton Moffatt and Angela Quiambao have been named the 2021 Nicol Scholars at LCCVI.

Janessa Labadie wants to make a difference in the world as a lawyer.

Asia Maheu wants to be an astronaut.

Peyton Moffatt is proud of her community contributions and wants to live and work in Lambton.

Angela Quiambao loves music and wants to teach in the Philippines.

The four teens are this year’s Nicol Scholars at LCCVI in Petrolia.

The Nicol Scholarship is awarded to the top academic students who participate in community and school life by a panel of judges which includes local ministers, politicians and school representatives. It was set up by Harold Nicol who went to LCCVI in 1914, before entering the military to join the troops in the First World War when he was just 14. When he returned, he took a college business course and worked with Western Electric which later became AT&T in Chicago.

Nicol had amassed a fortune of over $2 million. Without a family, he decided to set up the scholarship fund for LCCVI in his mother’s name.

Wednesday, the judges announced the four winners of this year’s scholarship which have once again returned to $10,000 per student. For several years, the scholarships were $5,000 because of low funds in the foundation. Officials say in future years, the $10,000 scholarships will continue.

Janessa Labadie

Janessa Labadie was at home when Principal Greg Nemcek called with the news. “I didn’t know if it was going to be good news or bad news. And he kind of told me that I was a Nicol scholar and it was kind of like a shock. I was like, wait, like, really? Me? It was kind of just like a big surprise. And then, a sigh of just like, wow, I did it.”

Labadie made becoming a Nicol scholar a goal early in her high school career.

“I kind of set a goal for myself back in like Grade Nine and 10 to keep working hard at what I do in order to hopefully one day be able to say I was a Nicol scholar.

Labadie is continuing to dream big hoping “to make a difference in the world and to help people” with a career in law.

Asia Maheu

Asia Maheu’s dreams aim a little higher geographically speaking. “I’m going to the University of Waterloo and I’m going to be studying physics and astronomy. …when I was younger, I always was super into – I still am obviously – space. And it’s always been the goal to be an astronaut.”

Maheu points to a close encounter with a hometown hero as her inspiration. “Chris Hadfield was a big one, just because he’s local and we got to talk to him one time when I was in like, Grade Five.

“I’ve always just been so fascinated with the stars, and just science in general. And I think space is super cool.”

Peyton Moffatt, like the others, became in interested in becoming a Nicol scholar when she arrived at LCCVI. “I kind of had my eyes set on that like as my goal and it just drove me to be like involved in this campus school community and both my town,” says the Watford-area teen.

Peyton Moffatt

“And I actually ended up liking being involved.” Moffatt was a member of the athletic association, the student council co president, part of the health and wellness club at school and played sports. In the community, she helped coach baseball and became active in leading youth groups at local churches.

Moffatt, like the others, was excited to be told she’d been named a Nicol scholar.

“I think it’s just more like a feeling of like accomplishment, that all your hard work has paid off, that you’ve worked to get somewhere, you had to put in the time and effort to get there; so I guess prove that you’ve tried.”

Moffatt is going to the University of Waterloo and hopes to return to Lambton to work in the petrochemical industry.

Angela Quiambao has her eyes set outside Lambton’s borders. The 19 year-old from the Inwood area will be going to the University of Windsor in the fall for the concurrent education program. She also wants to take an international baccalaureate program which would allow her to teach internationally particularly in country she was born.

Angela Quiambao

“One of the things I’d really love to do is teach over in the Philippines and get that experience, getting to be a part of different cultures and then teaching English and I’m really passionate about that,” she says.

Quiambao, according to Principal Greg Nemcek, is very musical and has spent her summers over the last few years working with Hope United Church’s camps teaching music.

While she won’t pursue music as part of her education, she hopes to get involved in choral music while she’s at Windsor.

The goal of university is a big one for the teen. She is fifth in a line of seven children and decided she would pay for her post-secondary education on her own. The Nicol Scholarship goes a long way to help with those expenses.

She was hopeful she might win the Nicol for her hard work throughout the year, but when the principal called, she expected to be turned down. “He was like, ‘I’m about to make your day even better.’ And like, ‘Angela, you are one of the Nicol scholars. And afterwards, I cried.”

Nemeck says this year’s scholars – like the 400 who have gone before them – are “going to make a difference in the world. And that’s what the Nicol (Scholar program) is all about. It’s all about finding that kid or that student that is just the all-around student, that is going to come back to the community and do something wonderful…they’re going to do some great things.

“That is by far the highlight of my year, is to make phone calls like that to those kids. And it just brings tears to my eyes because they’re so excited and are so thankful because it’s a lot of work,” Nemcek adds.

Janessa Labadie agrees it does take dedication to be in the running for the Nicol, adding this year’s scholars have also had to deal with two years of uncertainty through the pandemic. But she says, in a way, that’s helped her focus on her goal.

“Receiving this award was something I was like, ‘Wow, my hard work really has paid off,'” she says.

“It would have been so easy for me to be able to just be like, ‘nah I’m just giving up this year.’ You know what I mean? And I think having such like a massive win as a possibility is like, ‘no, I need to kept an eye on the ball.’ I guess that helped my tunnel vision. That’s what that kept me wanting to push forward and realizing that you know, no matter what the circumstances, like my hard work will pay off.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Heather, just something about this story that you probably did not know but would enjoy is that Asia and Janessa have gone all thru public school and high school together and have been best friends for many years and it has only added to the excitment to be sharing this honour with their best friend!

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