Scholarships make a difference for students making a difference

- November 26, 2020

Selam Abdella, left, and Samantha Howard are this year's recipients of the Margaret R. Crickard Scholarship. (Provided photos)
Selam Abdella, left, and Samantha Howard are this year's recipients of the Margaret R. Crickard Scholarship. (Provided photos)

The inaugural Margaret R. Crickard Scholarship honours the memory of Margaret R. Crickard in a legacy gift while celebrating the academic achievement and community involvement of International Development Studies (IDS) students.

This year’s Margaret R. Crickard Scholarship recipients, Samantha Howard and Selam Abdella, have worked hard to get to the fourth year of their degrees, exemplifying these values.

They are values shared by the family for which the award is named. In fact, the late Margaret R. Crickard’s family tree is full of connections to Dal. Margaret received a BA in French, and her husband, Rear Admiral Fred Crickard, earned a BA in political science and later returned after a career in the Navy to become a research associate and earn a master’s degree. Margaret’s father, Dr. George Hugh Henderson, was not only a professor of mathematical physics at King’s College, but one of the residence houses in Howe Hall is named after him - Henderson House.

“My mother always had a passion for education and was raised in an academic family,” explains Nancy Munro, Margaret and Fred’s daughter. “She had a great interest in foreign languages and world events. My mother looked up to her father and was proud of her husband - without a doubt, she would have wanted to honour them both with a scholarship in support of Dalhousie students.”

A scholarship like the Margaret R. Crickard Scholarship is “not just handing a cheque, but supporting a student,” as Theresa Ulicki, chair of the IDS department noted at the presentation ceremony.

Fostering environmental awareness

Samantha Howard is one of those students, studying in her fourth year of combined honours in International Development Studies and Environmental Science.

As events coordinator for the Environmental Programs Students Society (EPSS), she’s organized various beach cleanups, sustainability workshops, and a sign-making event for the 2019 Global Climate Strike attended by over 100 students. She also volunteers as a supervisor on the Dalhousie Medical Campus Response Team (DMCRT), where she supervises other responders and ensures safety at campus events.

“My leadership activities on campus have hopefully helped foster environmental awareness can activism in other students,” she says. “And I hope that my impacts when compounded with the work of countless others can help inspire international climate action.”

During the Winter 2020 term, Samantha also benefitted from Dalhousie’s Study Abroad program, studying at the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) in New Zealand. She says learned about development and environmental issues from a new perspective, and how Indigenous knowledge and histories are recognized in these disciplines. “The courses at VUW taught me different ways of critical thinking, problem solving, and gave me the opportunity to experience adapting to a different culture.”

She says the scholarship helps show the value of her contributions to the Dal community. “This opportunity gives me confidence in my abilities, work ethic, and values.”

Helping fellow students

Selam Abdella has also had a varied learning experience at Dal, contributing to the community around her while studying towards a combined honours degree in International Development Studies and Political Science with a Certificate in Intercultural Communications.

She’s held various roles in the Dalhousie Student Union and is currently the Coordinator of the DSU Equity and Accessibility Office, helping advocate for students of different backgrounds, identities, and abilities to access resources in their academic endeavors and beyond. Some of the projects she’s managed include making menstrual products accessible on campus. She’s also been able to “create financial opportunities for students by providing grants to students who want to embark on projects to make Dalhousie a more inclusive community.”

This summer, Selam worked with members of the DSU executive to expand the DSU’s financial assistance program into a COVID-19 relief grants program, which provided $50,000 in financial aid to hundreds of students struggling to cope with the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Selam is also a Dal Student Life Street-Team member who has worked as a course development associate at the Centre for Learning and Teaching and is working on her honours thesis focused on agriculture and education in her home country of Ethiopia. She is also working focusing on knowledge dissemination of agricultural biotechnology as a research assistant with IDS faculty member Matthew Schnurr.

“I will be working on communications projects to make scientific knowledge about the topic comprehensible for a wider audience,” she explains. “I am hoping that this will allow me to enrich my experience in accessible knowledge beyond Dalhousie to eventually apply my academic work in my home country.”

Acknowledging the challenges of juggling multiple jobs and a full coursework, she’s grateful for the support the scholarship provides in enabling and empowering her student life activities.

“I was given opportunities that allowed me to get involved on campus very early in university. A lot of students do not get that opportunity because they have financial barriers, heavy course loads, and familial commitments. Scholarships that are more focused on financial need and more paid work opportunities related to students’ fields of study would be a great addition to merit scholarships at Dalhousie.”


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