Stories of Impact

Award provides last-minute boost

Aboriginal Award Future Leaders

Donors impact student through the Inspiring Women Among Us Award

November 1, 2018
Picture of UNBC student Sara-Lynn Harding

The semester was fast approaching and Sara-Lynn Harding was in a bind.

Entering her final year of studies for her undergraduate degree in Public Administration and Community Development at the University of Northern British Columbia, Harding was facing a series of challenges and a sudden case of financial hardship.

Wildfires were raging throughout the Cariboo region and many of her family members in Williams Lake and Esk’etemc First Nation were evacuated. Some came to live with her and her family in Prince George. She was unable to work and the fires also prevented Harding from returning home to Esk’etemc to conduct her traditional gathering activities and get supplies for winter.

On top of that, Harding was also supporting her mother who was undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy at the BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North.

Then the bills started to pile up; daycare for her younger children and high school fees for the older kids on top of the dayto- day living expenses for herself, her husband and their five children.

“I needed some kind of assistance and I was unsure of where to turn to get it,” Harding recalls.

That’s when Harding found out about the Inspiring Women Among Us Award. Funded by donations to UNBC’s Northern Leadership Campaign, the award is designed to help women who are facing challenges and can benefit from financial support.

Harding found out in early September that she qualified. The timing couldn’t have been better.

“The award came just exactly when I needed that little boost of financial support. It was essentially my last chance to get any support,” she says. “It took such a strain off of me and allowed me to be able to focus on my course work.”

Harding’s educational journey began in 2003, when she started taking courses at UNBC through what was then known as the Weekend University Program in Williams Lake. Then she moved to Prince George to pursue a Psychology degree, but with two young children at the time, she chose to enter the workforce before completing her degree.

After a nine-year hiatus, Harding returned to UNBC in 2015 with a renewed interest in learning how a postsecondary degree could help her assist her community as it went through a review of it’s housing policy.

“The Public Administration and Community Development degree is something that really fits in line with all of my work history,” she says. “I’ve held so many different positions where you have to do community engagement and you have to know how to work with people and in tough situations.”

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