Collyn Lovelace knows a thing or two about hard work.
The 30-year-old single mother is pursuing a degree in social work at Yukon College, and juggling life as a mom and a full-time student definitely has its challenges.
Her boy, Beau, is six. “He’ll ask, ‘Oh, if you don’t have to work, can you come to the skating rink?’” said Lovelace.
Lovelace got some much-deserved recognition for her hard work at the Yukon College student’s award night Nov. 15, along with 34 other students who won a total of $32,000 in awards and scholarships.
Lovelace earned one of two Rotary Club of Whitehorse Memorial Fund Awards, and said the $500 will go a long way towards helping her pay next semester’s tuition.
“It’s always great to get recognition. As a student you work really hard. It’s great when someone says, ‘You’re doing great. Here’s some money,’” she said.
Lovelace said she chose social work because she understands the importance of advocating for society’s most vulnerable.
“I’ve always been passionate about social justice. My life experiences lead me to think it’s very important. I’m a single parent. I grew up in poverty. You feel for people who are accessing social services,” she said.
It’s a goal shared by her award’s donors. Joanne Lewis, an executive board member with the Rotary Club of Whitehorse, said the club wanted to support the social work program because it fits with the club’s values.
“Social workers focus on individuals, families and communities. We’re a service club, and we think it’s a good fit with our values. Social workers complement the work that Rotary does in the community,” said Lewis.
She also works at the college and was on hand to present Lovelace with her award.
“I spoke with Collyn at the awards. She’s getting ready for a placement, and basically I was impressed by her dedication to education and this line of work. She struck me as the sort of person who would be a good social worker,” said Lewis.
The night’s biggest winner was Tynan Thurmer. The 22-year-old renewable resources student took home two awards: the Yukon Outfitters award and the Janet and Pierre Berton award, totalling $900.
“It’s great. It helps out with everyday life and tuition for the next semester. It helps out everywhere. I can focus more on my studies,” said Thurmer.
When he’s not hitting the books, Thurmer spends a lot of time in the backcountry, hunting, trapping and fishing. He is a deputy conservation officer and said the renewable resources program is a perfect fit for his lifestyle.
“I want to preserve the general Yukon picture. Everyone sees it as a great place to live. The program here at the college provides a valuable stepping stone. It’s really outdoorsy, and it’s relevant to my lifestyle. My dad just recently got a trapping licence, and I’m trying to get an assistant trapping licence,” said Thurmer.
Thurmer is a born-and-raised Whitehorse resident with Ojibway and German ancestry. He said he enjoys blending his First Nation traditions with the adventure-seeking tendencies of his father.
“My dad is from Germany. He grew up reading Jack London and had the dream to come here and do that stuff,” said Thurmer.
With one more semester to go, Thurmer said he hopes to keep developing his career as a conservation officer, and his award money will go a long way to making that possible.
Contact Jesse Winter at firstname.lastname@example.org