Stratton student lands big scholarship

Aimee Pelletier is all about leadership, service, and character.
At least that’s what she proved to the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, which recently awarded her a four-year, $55,000 scholarship to help her through university after several months of interviews.
“I was simply shocked,” the 18-year-old Fort High student said.
“I really didn’t think the interviews went that well because you never know what to expect with them,” Pelletier added. “But I was pleased, obviously, because I don’t have to worry about paying for my education anymore.”
The Stratton teen applied for the scholarship back in October, and has since gone to Winnipeg and Toronto for extensive interviews as more and more of the 3,600 applicants from across Canada were eliminated from the running.
Pelletier was all smiles when she was notified after her Feb. 6 interview in Toronto that not only would she would be joining 30 award winners in the $38,000 Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation prize, she also was among the top 15 of those 30–receiving an additional $17,000 as a Garfield Weston Scholar.
Come September, Pelletier plans to attend either the University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University (Halifax), or the University of Guelph to get a degree in ethnobotany–the study of how plants and culture are interrelated.
“I like studying plants, and like studying cultures, so with ethnobotany, you travel to, say, the Amazon rain forest, interact with the indigenous cultures there, and find out how they use different plants there,” she explained.
“Then you can write it down and bring it back to the rest of world,” added Pelletier, an avid environmentalist who looks not only to educate herself on the job but help the planet as well.
In fact, it was her drive and leadership in organizing a recycling program at Fort High, and the Canada World Youth “River Watch” program in Costa Rica next month, that made her one of the scholarship finalists.
“That was the big essay questions on the extensive application I filled out in October–‘What is the most important thing you’ve done?’ and ‘Name a situation where you’re leadership skills come into play,’” noted Pelletier.
Everyone in the school knows about her good fortune by now, said Pelletier, but she remains humble about her achievement. “Everybody’s proud of me, and my parents are happy because they don’t have to pay for me now,” she smiled.
And as the only person in Rainy River District to win the scholarship, she still believes anyone stands a chance at reaping similar rewards if they apply themselves.
“I know during the interviews [other applicants] were from all these cities, and I’m from what seems like a rural, isolated area without opportunities,” she admitted.
“But I proved to [the Foundation] I could make those opportunities for myself,” she added.
Furthermore, the Weston portion includes a travel grant to conduct research anywhere in the world after Pelletier’s second year, as well as a one-year internship in public policy.
“I love to travel, and I want to do everything I can,” she remarked.
The only things Pelletier has to worry about after her “windfall” is keeping up the high standard that got the acclaimed scholarship in the first place.
“They expect me to stay busy with extracurricular activities, and I have to maintain a B+ average throughout school.
“Also, I still have to make about $2,000 in the summer just to pay for some expenses, but that means I get to have a job I really like and not just worry about making the most money,” she noted.
Those who applied for the scholarship yet only made it to the interview process received $2,500 for participating.
The Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, which was founded in 1988, gives out increasingly more awards to students every year.
This year, $2.5 million was handed out to successful applicants.