By Mike Pearson, News staff
Whether she’s helping out at a local retirement home or encouraging students to donate blood, Jennifer Wilson spends much of her spare time helping others.
So it’s not surprising that the Grade 12 Ancaster High School student is looking ahead to a career in nursing.
“It’s something I really enjoy, plus I love science so it sort of combines both of those,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer’s strong commitment to academics, volunteerism and athletics have helped her land a prestigious Queen’s University Chancellor’s Scholarship, valued at $36,000. She was one of 50 recipients selected from about 800 entries for the four-year scholarship.
Jennifer’s volunteer resume includes working with children and seniors at Highgate Retirement Residence, the Ancaster Aquatic Centre and Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum. She also volunteers with her school’s HOPE group which raises funds for charitable causes.
During her years at Ancaster High, Jennifer has served as student council secretary and also sat on the Girls Athletic Association.
Her athletic resume includes cross-country, swimming, water polo and track and field. She has made multiple appearances at the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association championships and South Regional championships. On two occasions she competed at the OFSAA provincial swimming championships.
In addition to her numerous commitments, Jennifer had to maintain an academic average above 90 per cent for her four years of high school to qualify for the Queen’s scholarship.
When it comes to volunteering, Jennifer derives great satisfaction from improving the lives of others.
“Especially at the retirement home they’re just so happy to see a new face and it’s really rewarding.”
Although she’s moving to a new city this fall, Jennifer won’t feel alone at the Kingston campus. She already has a few friends on campus and her older sister Colleen is a Queen’s student.
Jennifer recently checked out the campus and the city and liked what she saw.
“I just like the feel of it. It sort of feels like downtown Dundas a little bit. There’s bunch of little shops and restaurants and the campus has a lot of historic buildings.”
Along with her scholarship, Jennifer was recently honoured with the Jeff Dickens Award, which recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community involvement. The award, named in memory of a Hamilton Spectator sportswriter, was presented at the B’nai Brith Sports Celebrity Dinner.
“I was very honoured to have heard I won the award,” Jennifer said. “I applied for it and I didn’t really know what to expect.”
One of Jennifer’s most recent volunteer activities has been organizing blood donation drives at her school for Canadian Blood Services. While she doesn’t meet the physical requirements to donate blood herself, Jennifer coordinates taxi services to transport students to blood donor clinics and arranges parental permission slips.
Despite all of her volunteer, athletic and academic commitments, Jennifer somehow still finds time to socialize with friends.
“You have to prioritize and find out what’s important and manage your time accordingly,” she said.
With many school sports and extra-curricular activities currently on hold, Jennifer actually has a little more free time than she would like right now. Her school swim season was cut back due to job action taken by teachers in response to Bill 115. Her cross country season was unaffected, but water polo is now on hold. To stay active, Jennifer ran on a team outside of school, and still runs and swims on her own.
Despite losing some of her athletic events, Jennifer doesn’t blame her teachers for taking action against Bill 115. The provincial Liberal government used the legislation to impose new contracts on teachers who did not previously reach agreements with their respective school boards. Teachers responded to the bill by choosing to withdraw from voluntary activities.
At Queen’s, Jennifer plans to stay active by playing intramural sports. If she can manage the time constraints, she will look into varsity sports, but academics are her top priority.