GPRC donors support students to the tune of $450,000
Thursday, February 14th, 2019
Donors to GPRC contribute around $450,000 a year to directly help GPRC students. This generosity helps students like MacKenzie Lowen, who is now able to put in the hours it takes pursue her passion in music at GPRC.
Lowen, who is in her second year studying music, spends two or more hours a day in voice and piano practice on top of attending full-time classes, after-class choir practices and occasional performances on the evenings and weekends. The $6,000 she received from five donor-supported awards means she’s practicing for her future career rather than scrambling to make ends meet.
“It makes all the difference. I’m attending on student loans and that pays for tuition, books and rent. It doesn’t pay for utility bills, food, and everything else you need as a student,” she said. “Receiving the scholarships and knowing you don’t have to worry about paying your bills is a huge weight off of you.”
Lowen moved to Grande Prairie in 2014 to be closer to family and worked a job she didn’t love for a couple of years until she decided it was time to reinvent herself and return to school.
Throughout her life, she and her mom sang together. It was while she was at an open mic night that a friend, who was a GPRC music student, convinced her to enroll in the music program at GPRC.
She applied, auditioned and was accepted into the program and joined the GPRC College and Community Choir as a class. It was during her first year at college in 2017 that she learned the choir earned the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall in New York in November 2018.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” she said.
Lowen, along with the rest of the choir, travelled to New York November 21-26. She spent three days with her fellow choir members singing with 500 other musicians from around the world and capping it off performing Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall and had free time to tour the Big Apple.
“It wasn’t until the standing ovation at the end when it hit me that I was on stage at Carnegie Hall. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. It was a moment of pure joy,” she said.
It’s that kind of rewarding experience that the Good family, who are dedicated GPRC donors, wanted to bring to students.
Bill and Maura Good immigrated to Canada in the 1960s from England and settled in northern Alberta. They were both teachers for elementary and high school who went on to have long, successful careers making a difference in the lives of students in the region.
When Bill retired in 1999, he continued to give back to the profession through the GPRC Teacher Education North (TEN) program by working with students starting their own careers in education.
In 2014, Bill and Maura’s children and friends established a bursary for a deserving third-year student in the TEN program in Bill and Maura’s name to honour the longtime educators and recognize the value of GPRC students to the community.
“All nine of our children benefitted from GPRC, including six attending as full time students, so having a bursary in our name and getting to help other students have those same opportunities is something we cherish,” said Maura.
For GPRC students like Lowen, being the recipient of the generosity and leadership of donors like the Good family means the difference between “getting by” in school and getting to do their best.
“Because I’m not working to pay my bills, I’m really able to put my best foot forward and succeed in my academics,” said Lowen.
Learn more about all the ways you can contribute to the success of GPRC students at gprc.me/vital