Free rent for a year

An Okanagan College student has won free rent for a year so she can focus on her studies.

Second-year student Nat Beleuse-Christman was presented with the award at the "Open the Doors" gala in Vancouver.

More than 300 applicants from across B.C. vied for the prize, valued at $12,000.

“I want other people to believe in themselves and know that their lives matter – this award means I can follow my dream of going to university, and I hope others can do the same," said Beleuse-Christman.

She won the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators grand prize for her written submission about her personal struggle through adversity to finish Grade 12 as an adult and become a college student in Kelowna.

“Out of the hundreds of deeply moving entries we read, Nat’s stood out. Nat’s story really speaks to the hope post-secondary education gives British Columbians,” said contest judge Prof. Shirley Ackland.

“Access to post-secondary is harder than ever in B.C., with higher rents, lower wages, and higher tuition costs."

Okanagan College nursing student Chelsea Lamontagne also won $1,000 for her video narrative about her hard-working single mother, who inspired her decision to return to college as an adult student.

In Kelowna, the Okanagan College Faculty Association awarded four more prizes.

Arts student Takara Kempf wrote a compelling narrative about her choice to return to college for a new career and won tuition for a term, valued at up to $3,500. Carrie-Ann McAlpine, Aaron Gregory, and Beleuse-Christman each won $350 runner-up awards.

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