Meet Taylor Sample, a 20-year-old Métis student and proud recipient of the 2022 Alberta Blue Cross® Indigenous scholarship. “When I received the call that I got the award, I felt heard,” Taylor said. “I felt like my story and past experiences mattered.”

Taylor became inspired in her future career while working as an education assistant at a preschool for children with special needs. “That job brought me so much joy,” she reminisced. “I loved working with the little kiddos, as well as the teachers, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and other staff.” Excited and motivated to go to work each day, she realized she wanted a career working with children and was amazed at the number of opportunities available when she began searching for post-secondary programs.

Going and back forth between online and in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic made Taylor’s first year of university challenging. Virtual classes aren’t her preferred method to learn, and she found it difficult to meet other students and make friends when people weren’t physically at school. What’s made Taylor’s situation harder has been the financial burden of paying for post-secondary education while living on her own and suffering from on-and-off job loss due to the pandemic. “It’s created a lot more stress on top of everything else going in the world,” she said.

Wellness is a top priority for Taylor. She knows how easy it can be to slip into patterns of depression during hard times and understands the importance of daily checking in with yourself and finding appropriate outlets for your emotions. Like us at Alberta Blue Cross, she believes in developing a routine to maintain balance of your mental, physical, financial and social wellness. “You don’t have to go to the gym every day or count your calories to be physically healthy,” she agreed. “Just make sure you move your body in some way, every day, whether it’s going for a walk, stretching or doing yoga.” She suggests including friends and family to make physical activity more enjoyable. She also recommends journaling and meditation. “Journaling gives you the opportunity to reflect on yourself in a healthy way,” she explained. “Even if it sounds silly to you, try meditation—it’s a great way to shut off your anxious brain for a moment.”

Despite her inspiring focus on wellness, Taylor still finds it tough to balance school and work—both of which she does full time—with being in a relationship and trying to maintain a social life. She uses to-do lists to help maintain balance but makes a point to never put to many big items on her list per day and reserves one day a week to catch up. “I’m lucky enough to live with my best friend so it’s easy to see her, but I take one day off a week where I don’t work or have class to unwind, catch up on assignments or meet up with friends.” Taylor plans her to-do lists by referencing her syllabus at the start of each week to see what upcoming exams and assignments she needs to prepare for. She reminds us that friends and family are there to support us and cheer us on, so they understand when we have to shift priorities to focus on the things that are important to us, like school.

To someone considering post-secondary education, Taylor’s advice is to just do it: “No matter what you’re considering applying for, it will be worth it—you can never regret learning.” She’s loving her post-secondary experience, which keeps her motivated and helps her meet new people. “It feels so good knowing you’re on the right path and working towards a better future for yourself,” she said. “School is definitely tough but if you’re ready, go get ‘em.”

Taylor’s hopes for a future where she continues to have amazing experiences, grow and learn while being inspired every day. She plans to get a master’s degree after completing her undergraduate degree, travel the world and meet people. She’s working hard to one day land her dream job where she can continue to feel good about herself and her decisions.

To her younger self, Taylor would encourage her to enjoy the ride. “I’m still young and living in the moment, but even as a teenager I was in such a rush to be where I am today.”

Our scholarships for Indigenous students work to address the education inequity faced by Indigenous peoples in Alberta by making post-secondary studies more financially accessible. The awards are based on scholastic achievement, financial need and community involvement, and recipients are selected by an external committee with expertise in academia and Indigenous education. Learn more about our Indigenous scholarship program and hear other inspiring stories like Taylor’s on our website.

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