Penticton student Linda Worden is about to have her name added to a very short list of locals who have been invited to a prestigious college on Vancouver Island.
Worden, 16, learned earlier this month she had been awarded a two-year scholarship valued at $80,000 to attend Pearson College near Victoria. Just two other Penticton natives have attended there since it opened in 1974.
The college annually accepts about 200 high-achieving students, all on scholarship, who spend Grade 12 and a gap year at the facility in preparation for university.
It’s named after former Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson and is one of 13 schools around the world that belong to the non-profit United World Colleges group, which aims to build peace and unity through education.
“What I think really interests me about Pearson College is definitely the people that go there and the things I can learn from them, because they have such a diverse group of students who’ve come from all over the world,” Worden said.
“There are kids from areas of conflict and students from Canada who’ve lived in East Vancouver or up north and have situations to talk about and how they’ve overcome that and how they’re motivated by that. I think that would be really cool.”
Worden, who is almost finished Grade 11 at Penticton Secondary, is active in school groups and as a tutor. She was also the only student to appear last year before the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District to complain about its budget decision to do away with its sexual-health instructor position.
Her willingness to speak up likely put her in good stead with her new school’s decision-makers.
“We were impressed by Linda’s combination of leadership, mentorship and participation, as well as her ability to reflect on what real community involvement means,” director of admissions Heather Gross said in a statement.
“At Pearson College UWC, she will be living in true community with fellow students, staff and faculty, so this is a valued quality.”
Worden begins studies at her new school in September.