Joli Mwinyi from Crawford Bay is a recipient of the 2020 Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo submitted

Columbia Basin Trust announces Neil Muth Scholarship recipients

The winners are from Rossland, Crawford Bay and Montrose

The Muth family and Columbia Basin Trust have awarded four students the 2020 Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship.

Joli Mwinyi from Crawford Bay, Rossland’s Jay Maloney and Ayla von Diebitsch, and Nigel Burk from Montrose will each receive $2,500 to continue their education.

“We were so moved and inspired by all of the applicants who shared their stories with us,” said Cathy Muth, Neil’s wife. “Jay, Joli, Ayla and Nigel have overcome incredible personal challenges to find success on their own terms through their unwavering spirit, strength in themselves and a desire to help and contribute to the well-being of others and their community.

“We are so pleased that we can support them in some small way, to lend a hand and to recognize all of their efforts in persevering through adversity to realize their educational and career goals.”

Mwinyi dedicates time to helping her community of Crawford Bay. An active volunteer, she helps at the food bank, assists with the annual fall fair and volunteers in the local kindergarten classroom. This fall, after several years of working part time and over summers, she’s excited to look ahead to her post-secondary education and a career where she can help others.

Like many high school graduates anticipating their first semester at college or university in September, Mwinyi is faced with uncertainty about what that will look like in this time of COVID-19, but she believes in her ability to meet any challenge.

“I am so appreciative of this scholarship; no matter how I approach my goal, the scholarship is going to help me pursue dreams of being able to help and support others through my work,” she said.

Maloney will start the final year of his master’s degree at Simon Fraser University this September in the Resource and Environmental Management program. Receiving the scholarship means he can focus on his thesis work in rural and environmental planning rather than having to worry about finding a part-time job.

“Growing up in Rossland, my heart is here in the Basin and I would be thrilled to find satisfying work here as a professional planner, working with rural communities on things like adapting to climate change and balancing economic needs with environmental well-being.”

Whether it’s her weekly volunteer work as a mentor at the Sanctuary in Trail with children and youth, her participation on Selkirk College’s Mental Health Committee or volunteering annually with the FireSmart program in her hometown of Rossland, Von Diebitsch is community minded and committed to supporting others when it comes to their wellness and safety.

Busy with a nursing practicum at Kootenay Lake Hospital this spring and summer, Ayla will begin her final year of the University of Victoria Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree Program at Selkirk College in September, the next step in her goal to work as a critical care nurse to care for those most in need.

“I’ve always wanted a career where I could help others and nursing seemed so right to me. The nurses I work with as part of my practicums are everyday superheroes. I want to be able to provide the same kind of support, to help people who are at their most vulnerable to heal, process whatever they are faced with and find hope.”

While working on construction jobs and looking at a career in the trades, Burk realized he was not on the right path and that something was missing. His life-long love of learning and his affinity for being a mentor to his younger siblings pointed towards teaching.

Now about to enter his third year at Selkirk College in preparation for the Bachelor of Education program at Thompson River University, Burk finally feels like his life and future are heading in the direction he was meant to take all along.

“I want everyone to know that it is possible to overcome challenges, even those that might seem insurmountable, to recalibrate your life and start doing the things you love and want to pursue. You just have to keep moving ahead.”

The Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship was established in 2017 to honour Neil Muth, the Trust’s president and chief executive officer from 2005 through 2016, who passed away in November 2016. Neil valued and supported perseverance and continuous learning. He encouraged his children, staff and others to be curious, to seek their own path, and to never give up.

The scholarship is awarded by the Muth family, administered by Columbia Basin Trust and made possible by the generous donations of family, friends, local governments and organizations.

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