I recently spoke with Brianna Sitwell, a 2014 Terry Fox Humanitarian Award recipient and since many scholarship application deadlines are just around the corner I thought it was a good time to share her story.
Brianna and her family have been attending Wesley Acres Family Camp, in Bloomfield, ON, since she was born and it was there this past summer that Bishop Keith learned of Brianna’s award.
Brianna’s Mom was the one who suggested she start looking into scholarships to help pay for her upcoming university tuition – sounds like a Mom thing to do! Brianna checked out YCONIC (formerly Student Awards) to help in her search for scholarships. She applied for several awards but didn’t have high expectations so she was pretty excited when she received an email from the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award Program inviting her to an interview in Toronto.
Brianna went to the interview and a few weeks later she received a phone call letting her know she was one of the 2014 Terry Fox Humanitarian Award recipients. And what does this mean exactly? Well, it pretty much covers her four years of tuition at Queen’s University.
I asked Brianna about her involvement in humanitarian work and was surprised to learn it started at a very young age, “Ever since I was little I would not ask for presents for my birthday parties but I would ask for money to donate or canned goods.”
Three years ago Brianna was part of a mission team who went to Cambodia. There she helped organize and run a camp for 200 children. Brianna also participated in Outtatown – a three-month discipleship training program offered at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, MB. This program took her from Canada to Africa to France.
The volunteer experience she spoke most passionately about was her time spent at Nightlight in Belleville, ON. Nightlight is a drop-in centre open three times a week offering coffee, snacks and a “safe place to be yourself.” Brianna volunteered at Nightlight once a week where she would play cards, hangout and talk with people. She also organized events at her school to raise money for the drop-in centre.
And why did she want to volunteer at Nightlight? “Ultimately I want to touch people’s lives. And that is the reason I want to be a nurse. When I have education behind me I can help in new ways.”
I asked Brianna if she has any advice for young people wanting to volunteer but maybe a little nervous? “You don’t have to know what you are doing. Just be yourself. Be someone they can talk to and have fun with.”
Brianna is in her first year of nursing at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. She hopes to start volunteering at Kingston’s Nightlight soon.