Reflections on the season of giving

In this season of festive cheer, my thoughts turn to giving and the impact it can make. For me, the old adage rings true: It really is better to give than to receive. Small gifts given big-heartedly make a world of difference.

To illustrate, let me introduce you to Megan Kyak-Monteith.  Born and raised in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Megan didn’t know how she would fund a post-secondary education when she was accepted to NSCAD. That is, until she heard word that she received a renewable scholarship, the Creative Innovators of Tomorrow Award, which would entirely cover her tuition.

Self-portrait by Megan Kyak-Monteith.

Self-portrait by Megan Kyak-Monteith. Fall 2016.

“Before receiving this award, I was not looking forward to university,” confesses Megan, now in her second year at NSCAD. “Because of the heavy cost of supplies, tuition, housing and food, my focus was not on being educated but on desperately finding the money in order to be educated … I would like to thank the donors for shifting my perspective.”

Megan’s scholarship has allowed the young artist to attend NSCAD where she is developing her painting and illustration skills as she explores her Inuit roots and pushes herself in ways she never anticipated. Last summer, for example, she took herself out of her comfort zone by participating in Halifax’s Art Battle. She ended up winning the regional contest which qualified her to represent Nova Scotia at a national competition. “It’s really energizing and your heart beats super fast,” she says. Participants have just 20 minutes to create a painting and work in front of a large audience.

This summer, Megan will return to Nunavut in the summer to live with her grandparents (her parents are now in Antigonish, Nova Scotia) and work as an illustrator at an Iqaluit-based movie and book company. “Having the scholarship is such a huge lift. It allows me not to have to worry about having a job during school. I can really delve into my assignments and I’m learning so much—I see improvements from one week to another.”

Drawing by Megan Kyak-Monteith.

Drawing by Megan Kyak-Monteith. Fall 2016.

By donating to NSCAD’s Annual Fund, you are giving exceptional students like Megan the chance to shine. Their artistic passions are ignited by NSCAD’s rich and diverse academic programs, interdisciplinarity and vibrant, nurturing community.

There is still time to give to NSCAD’s Annual Fund, which is dedicated to bursary and scholarship support for students. It doesn’t matter how much you give – even little gifts are deeply appreciated.

If you make a donation before year-end, you’ll receive a charitable tax receipt for 2016. And, as if by magic, immediately you’ll receive a glimpse of what makes NSCAD so special—I guarantee that you’ll be touched by what comes your way.

In appreciation and happy holidays! Here is your invitation to give.

Dianne

PS – See more of Megan Kyak-Monteith’s artwork below and in the header image.

megan2

megan7

From school to success

On June 21, the Transition Task Force released From School to Success: Clearing the Path.  The report contains 15 recommendations to help youth get the training and education they need to find meaningful employment in Nova Scotia.

Appointed by Education and Early Childhood Education Minister Karen Casey and Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan last fall, the Transition Task Force is made up of educators, business and youth representatives—myself included. (See the photo of task force members in the header above.)

Recommendations from the task force include:

  • providing relevant career information to youth earlier
  • creating an entrepreneurial culture within schools, colleges and universities
  • helping more apprentices, college and university students complete their education and training, and to do so more quickly

I was honored to serve on the Transition Task Force that addressed some key issues in education that I am passionately committed to. Through the task force, I found a table of like-minded people engaged in discussing challenges and making recommendations of what can be done to provide enhanced opportunities for Nova Scotian youth.

I know first-hand how NSCAD, as a world renowned art school, can be accessible to young people coming from high school or transferring from other universities and the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) (through our innovative 2 + 2 programs). Sometimes debt adverseness can prevent some very talented students from considering a degree in art or design, but there is financial support available. NSCAD awards more than $311,000 in student support annually through bursaries and scholarships and also offers diverse employment opportunities for students on campus.

I believe one of the most important task force recommendations is to reach parents and students with financial planning information earlier so that they understand post-secondary education is worth the investment and remains the clearest path to a rewarding and good paying job. For example, the Nova Scotia government provides bursaries of approximately $1,200 a year for university students from Nova Scotia—although this significant direct tuition deduction is generally not well known.The task force also called for a review of current sources of financial assistance to students (from governments, universities, colleges, families and students themselves) and an assessment of what changes could be made to close the gap between costs and available resources.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey and Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan accepted the report and thanked the task force members for our work.

“Our government is committed to seeing more young people find meaningful work here at home,” said Minister Regan. “Our budget this year is investing more than $12 million in programs that provide the skills, training and experience needed to connect young people to a career here in Nova Scotia.”

The province will report on progress throughout the year, as action is undertaken. The ministers also agreed to reconvene task force members in fall 2017 for a round table session to review and discuss progress.

The Transition Task Force was established as part of Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education. Ensuring youth have the best possible chance for a successful future in Nova Scotia is supported by the ONE Nova Scotia Coalition.

To close, I would like to share some profiles from the  Class of 2016. Read what NSCAD grads say about their art school experience and how it changed their lives.

NSCAD Pride and Kudos!

Dianne