“When I first came here, I was not in good shape,” was how Vanessa Soles, 17, described her experiences three years ago.
Now, however, things are much different for the hard-working girl, who recently graduated and was awarded for her hard academic work.
Soles was the selected recipient of the Passport to Education, an award given out by the Ministry of Education.
The award gives Soles $500 to go towards any school in British Columbia, or to be reimbursed to her should she choose to go attend post-secondary education outside the province.
The Passport to Education is not something a student applies for, though, but is awarded.
“It’s not something you apply for, it’s something you earn,” said Soles. “I think because I did three years of school in two, doing all that work and getting and maintaining good grades throughout, that was involved with me getting the award.”
Soles is hoping to use her Passport to Education funds at the MH Vicars School of Massage in Calgary, Alberta, which is one of her ideas for post-secondary education.
“I’d like to start my own business one day,” said Soles. “And I wouldn’t have to move to go to this school, I could practice on my friends, and could go to Calgary for a weekend for tests. It’s a two-year program, and when I found out I could do it from home I was really excited, because I really don’t want to move away for school.”
Along with her award, Soles is also nearing completion of her fundraising project.
Soles has been working to purchase a headstone for her father, estimated at $1,500, which she has been able to obtain over the course of two and half years of fundraising and odd-job work efforts. She also received a $300 donation from the Kinsmen Club of Invermere for her goal.
Now all that remains is getting a picture on ceramic on the headstone, which Soles will be saving up to buy while working at her new job.
“It’s been a long process, but the community has been amazing, it’s been awesome,” said Soles.
Soles said that her life journey has been a tough one, but she’s overjoyed with her current and future efforts.
“I’m really proud to have made these changes, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my family and friends,” said Soles. “They pushed me way up. It’s been a difficult experience, but totally worth it. I’ve accomplished so much. I didn’t know I had it in myself to do these things, but I have done them. It’s crazy, what we’re capable of doing.
“I’ve grown up so much, it’s almost hard for me to accept, sometimes.”
Soles would like to give a big thank you to her friends and family that have helped and supported her efforts over the years.