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Photo of U of C's Foothills campus. // Photo by Justin Quaintance.

U of C students set up scholarship for Northeast high schoolers

By Kristy Koehler, June 19 2020—

Hana Osman just graduated from the Bachelor of Health Sciences program at the University of Calgary. She loved her undergraduate experience but noticed a worrying trend — that very few students who attend high schools in the northeast quadrant of the city end up in the BHSc program. 

Hana and her sister Zainab, a current BHSc student at U of C, decided to do something to help high schoolers from the area they grew up in. They set up the Outstanding Student Merit Award for New BHSC students who attended Northeast high schools. The first letters of the scholarship’s name spell out ‘Osman’ — a fitting tribute to the two very generous sisters who funded the scholarship themselves using their savings.

The scholarship awards two students from either Lester B. Pearson High School, Nelson Mandela High School or Bishop McNally High School with $500 towards their BHSc program tuition and fees. The pair are setting money aside to continue the scholarship well into the future, saving little by little to keep it going. 

“We’re trying to do it every year,” said Hana. “We’re hoping we can keep it alive as long as possible.”

As part of the selection process, Hana and Zainab will be reviewing, among other things, the applicant’s answers to questions they have posed. Chief among them — ‘What does living in northeast Calgary mean to you?’

For Hana, growing up in the Northeast is something to be proud of. A graduate of Lester B. Pearson High School, she said she carried her ‘Pearson Patriot Pride’ and the values she learned growing up in the area with her into her university experience. Unfortunately, she said, there is a stigma, most of it attached to assumptions about socioeconomic status, that some people associate with the northeast quadrant of the city.

“You don’t necessarily notice it until you get into what I’ll call ‘the real world,’” she said. “It’s unfortunate — I know I’m biased because I grew up here but I think the Northeast is golden and the purpose of this is to show the rest of the city that there are amazing individuals who come from here and we’re not any less capable of achieving great things.”

As for why students from high schools in the Northeast don’t end up in the BHSc program, Hana says she doesn’t have a definitive answer, but postulates that awareness of the program might have something to do with it. She hopes that just knowing the scholarship is in place will help those in grades 10 and 11 get thinking about a program she holds in such high regard.

“The BHSc was wonderful and it promoted a really positive learning environment,” said Hana. 

“I liked the BHsC because it was one of the most research-oriented undergraduate degrees. I personally believe that research is the hallmark of progression within society and I really liked that it was a very interdisciplinary program that highlights how interconnected medicine and social sciences and technology are.” 

Applications for the scholarship are open and the deadline to apply is July 31. The application information is available online through Education Matters.

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