By Elias Rizek
Third-year history and criminology student Gabrielle Fecteau truly personifies what the CIBC Mentoring Scholarship is all about.
The prestigious scholarship recognizes skilled mentors who also excel academically and in extracurricular activities. For more than two years, Fecteau, one of eight students to receive the scholarship last week, has worked with the Learning Technology Mentoring Centre to teach students how to use technology in their studies and ensure that they have the resources they need to succeed.
During that time, though, last June 20, she received some harrowing news: she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that targets lymphocytes (white blood cells).
Fecteau continued to maintain a high academic standard and worked tirelessly at the mentoring centre to support her peers, although she took a brief break while undergoing chemotherapy. Her tough battle lasted six months and the cancer finally went into remission on December 24, 2015.
“During the six months of battling cancer, I tried, through keeping up university classes and a social life, to continue living my life the way I wanted to live it,” says Fecteau.
In addition to mentoring, Fecteau has also participated in a variety of philanthropic projects. Several years ago, she took part in a humanitarian trip to Jamaica, where she helped build a home and worked with local schools and orphanages. She has also worked with the Odawa Friendship Centre, which offers support to indigenous communities in Ottawa.
The CIBC scholarship has been awarded every year for the past 11 years to students like Fecteau. Each scholarship is worth at least $4,500.
The other recipients of a 2015-2016 scholarship, who have demonstrated dedication, hard work, skilled mentoring and excellence in their respective mentoring centres, are Colleen Cornett (Sciences), Camille Cusson-Dufour (Health Sciences), Junyi Dai (Engineering), Miriam Hatabi (Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute), Emily McRae (Arts), Sara Valentino (Telfer School of Management) and Hayley Weese (Arts).
Over the past decade, the University of Ottawa’s peer mentorship programs have shown impressive growth, in large part due to these diligent young mentors. In 2016, these programs will be celebrating 14 years on campus, and can boast more than 18 centres across campus, 215 dedicated student mentors helping their peers and thousands of students receiving assistance to improve their academic achievement. To find out how you can help, drop by a mentoring centre today.