Photo by Chung Chow
Paul Brezanóczy Edwards is no newcomer to the idea of moving schools.
“As I grew up, we kind of moved around. When we lived on Moresby Drive I went to Quilchena Elementary. I moved in Grade 5 to Francis and No. 1 Road and then for high school, I went to Hugh Boyd Secondary.”
The moving continued after high school too: “I went to Langara. I was in the one-year engineering transfer program. Now I’m at UBC. I’m studying geological engineering.”
The provincial government supports moving between post-secondary schools with the Ike Barber Transfer Scholarships. Brezanóczy Edwards received a $5,000 award to help his move from Langara’s first-and-second-year-only engineering program to the University of British Columbia where he hopes to finish his degree as a well-rounded geological engineer.
Brezanóczy Edwards is one of 171 Barber scholarship recipients recently announced by the provincial government. In all, $855,000 went to the recipients to smooth their transition to a different institution.
The scholarships are awarded annually to undergraduate students who have completed at least one year at a public post-secondary institution in B.C. and are transferring to another degree-granting institution to complete their studies. Scholarship funds come from the returns on a $15 million endowment established by the province in 2006.
“The fund is named after philanthropist Irving K Barber who had a long history of supporting public education and research projects in British Columbia before his death in 2012,” according to a press release.
Based on a student’s volunteering as much as their academic scores, Brezanóczy Edwards looked to former teachers for letters of reference.
“One is my Spanish teacher from Hugh Boyd, Nigel Joseph, and the other reference was two ex-principals from the Richmond school district I volunteered with to go to China to lead summer camps, Rick and Rika Gibbs.”
Brezanóczy Edwards took two of his loves to China: learning and sports.
“Volunteering overseas ... makes you a better person. You see how people in other countries experience life. You learn from them, they learn from you. It’s give and take. Plus, you get to meet a lot of cool people.
There are benefits, he says, of doing the first year or two of engineering at Langara before moving to UBC where annual tuition can be over $9,500.
“The money and a tight knit group of people working for the same goal. You get to know everyone. You share all the same classes together 8:30 a.m. till 5:20 p.m. every day, except for Friday. We were there together more than I was at home with my dad.”
Was it a shock to go to the bigger institution after Langara?
“No, it was pretty good. I had myself kind of prepared for the change. My whole life I’ve been bouncing around so I’m used to changes.”
Brezanóczy Edwards says the money will make quite a difference, especially since he likes to pay his own way: “So, with this scholarship, and others I’ve been lucky enough to be awarded, I’ve been using them to pay most of, but not all of, my school supplies and tuition at Langara and UBC.”
He adds: “I don’t want to just mooch off my parents. I’m lucky enough that my parents would allow me to not work during the summers but I work to buy my own stuff and put it to my own ambitions.”
“When I’m in school it’s just school, but during the summer, I get jobs. This last summer I was a landscaper and a painter.”
Brezanóczy Edwards first credits his hard-working parents for his work ethic and then mentions their parents: “My grandparents also work quite hard. My one grandfather came from Hungary, in the years just after the revolution in 1958, with $5 in his pocket and went farming. The other grandfather was in the RAF (Britain’s Royal Air Force) so he was thrown around the world when he was younger as a pilot. He has quite the work ethic.”
What would Brezanóczy Edwards, who turns 20 in January, say to other students about scholarships?
“I would tell them what all my teachers tell me, if you think you are only a little bit applicable, go for it,” he says. “So many think, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough’ so a lot of people don’t end up applying so a lot of scholarships go un-awarded. Put your name in the hat. You might be the only applicant,” Brezanóczy Edwards says.
How did his parents react when they heard about the scholarship?
“My parents are pretty happy. They are always proud of me. They would be happy with whatever I do.
They are just very supportive.”
For more information on the Irving K Barber BC Scholarship Society scholarships click.