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Posted July 6, 2023

VIDA Bursary Program Helps Residents Get Ahead 

Sandra Wilson knows first-hand the unique journey that can arise from the VIDA community. She isn’t just a VIDA staff member; she’s a Building Ambassador (“BA”) and resident in the community. And she’s risen to handle the company’s national accounts processing.

Her idea to create the first VIDA bursary program will now help residents nationwide get ahead in their educational goals. Sandra’s concept is set to make a lasting impact, as VIDA continues to revolutionize affordable communities in Canada. 

“VIDA has very unique customer initiatives, like the first-time home buyer’s bonus, the friend referral program, and VIDA Perks; showing that there are many unique opportunities to be involved and support,” says Wilson. “There are discounts on products, services and job opportunities. And it made me consider another way to support community members, so I tabled the bursary idea.”

Residents were encouraged to share their inspiring stories and enter a contest, with the chance to win one of four $500 bursaries VIDA provided this year. And while there wasn’t a shortage of deserving entries, Elsie Dumashie, Anliza Banquil, Zoee Wittmann, and Kathryn Hickman each emerged as the first VIDA bursary recipients of 2023!

Elsie Dumashie – Halifax, NS

Elsie Dumashie arrived in Canada from Ghana nine years ago, before attending Acadia University. She moved to Halifax in 2019 and has been a member of the VIDA community for almost two years. Elsie has big plans on the horizon when it comes to her educational future. 

“The next step for me will focus on big data research,” she says. “I’m doing a graduate certificate in big data. And I plan to finish my master’s degree in the next two years. From there, I hope to get a job in that field and build my career. Data has always interested me, so I wanted to pursue a focus in business data analytics and intelligence.”

“I have never felt more lucky and blessed,” she adds, holding a large display cheque with her supportive BA Brandi Bond next to her. “The news of receiving this bursary has truly changed the trajectory of my financial situation for the next few months. I am very thankful to the VIDA team for this amazing award.” 

Click here to watch the interview with Elsie on VIDA’s YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, Elsie isn’t the only international student living within the VIDA community to take advantage of the bursary in Nova Scotia. 

Anliza Banquil – Truro, NS

Arriving from the Philippines, Anliza Banquil is a member of VIDA’s growing presence in Truro. A business administration student at the Nova Scotia Community College, she is a single mom raising a young daughter.

Active in community service, Anliza also finds time to participate in the school’s Enactus team. And she’s Vice President of Finance for the school’s Student Association, while working part-time for Parkland-Shannex retirement living.

Anliza plans to finish her degree with a focus on accounting. And she aspires to join an accounting firm or private business.

A breast cancer survivor, she knows how to overcome significant life challenges. And Anliza defines success as ‘living with a true purpose and having a positive impact on the lives of those who look up to her; lifting and inspiring them to be better individuals, by leaving a legacy that makes a difference in the world.’

Janine Lahti, Anliza’s Building Ambassador and a VIDA staff member, couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.

“As the BA of a bursary award winner, I was extremely excited to hear who won,” says Janine. “Anliza is a hard-working mom, trying to further her education and give her family the best life possible. I was very proud and honoured to be able to deliver the prize to her. I had the chance to congratulate her in person and see her sincere gratitude.”

Kathryn Hickman – Oromocto, NB

With the encouragement of Margie Callaghan, a BA in Oromocto, New Brunswick, Kathryn Hickman blew the judge’s panel away with her digital presentation skills. A 3D animator and graphic artist by trade, she plans to return to school to pursue a passion for film and SFX makeup art in the near future. And her long-view goals include becoming a makeup artist in the film industry. 

“I never want to stop learning,” says Kathryn. “I want to learn as much as I can every single day.

Zoee Wittmann – Winnipeg, MB

As VIDA continues to grow across the country, positive impacts among residents in communities will continue to be felt. 

This year Winnipeg resident Zoee Wittmann was thrilled to learn she was a winner representing the province of Manitoba. And equally delighted was her BA, Calvin Yearworth.

“I was so proud to hear that Zoee represents a building I help maintain through the bursary,” says Yearworth. “The impact this can have on our community is inspiring.”

Zoee is currently a third-year student at the University of Winnipeg, working towards completing her degree in Women and Gender Studies.

“What brought me into the program was a passion for change regarding the violence and sexual harassment against women, BIPOC and the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” she says.

Beyond her studies, Zoee works for an Indigenous beading company. And her future goal is to graduate, and help marginalized groups find job opportunities, safe housing and financial stability.

“I think that all goals are reachable,” says Zoee. “It takes drive, passion, patience and self-reflection to make a difference.”

Future success stories are on the way through VIDA

The VIDA bursary brings a sense of belonging and support to residents trying to get ahead in education. And this is just the beginning, with potential corporate sponsorship opportunities set to take things to new heights.

“This initiative was very special for me,” Sandra Wilson beams. “I was excited and thankful when it received the go-ahead. VIDA goes over and above to provide more value for residents. And the answers these lovely people provided made it easy to get emotional. The responses were heartfelt; we have so many wonderful residents.”

Sandra Wilson is a prime example of a Building Ambassador's tremendous impact on the lives of residents, as VIDA continues to revolutionize affordable communities into the future.

“I get inspired when I see people like Sandra come up with innovative ideas that align with our purpose of revolutionizing affordable communities,” says Ron Lovett, VIDA’s CEO & Chief Community Officer. “Her bursary initiative shows how we are on the right track in fostering opportunities for people to get ahead within the VIDA business model.”

Anliza Banquil

“Never miss a chance to benefit from opportunities and supports available to you, while striving to reach your goals of earning an education and build a great future.”

Elsie Dumashie

“You lose nothing by applying. And just like me, you too could be a winner. So grasp the opportunity to apply while you can. I guarantee you will have no regrets.”

Kathryn Hickman

“I would like to encourage my VIDA neighbours in the future to take the time to make their applications the best they can be. Answer the questions thoughtfully and with all your heart. Your passion for education should be the shining factor in your answers.”

Stay tuned for more details, or reach out to learn more about the application and corporate sponsorship opportunities within the 2024 VIDA Bursary Program! 

VIDA media contact: Joel Goodman, Public Relations,