Even as a busy law student, Rheana Worme still finds ample time to give back to the community.
Worme is in her final year of studies with a focus on Aboriginal Law at the University of Saskatchewan. Over the past few summers, Worme has worked alongside one of the lawyers at her parents’ law firm. This lawyer has made great strides in creating a safer, more just environment for Indigenous women and Worme plans to help continue that legacy.
After first completing her commerce degree, she decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps and enter law school. Her parents, Helen Semaganis and Don Worme are both College of Law alumni and practicing lawyers at Semaganis Worme law firm in Saskatoon. Don Worme received a USask Alumni Achievement Award and an Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2010. Worme noted that her parents have greatly supported and encouraged her to pursue post-secondary education, and seeing the work that they did inspires her to become a lawyer herself.
Even with her busy homework schedule, Worme still finds time to participate in her community actively. She has been the president of the Indigenous Law Students’ Association for two years and has been a program leader for the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program with Level Justice for three years.
Level Justice is a Canadian charitable organization interested in advancing human rights. With Level, Worme organizes volunteers, law students, and lawyers to go into a grade 6/7 classroom in an inner city school and teach them about law. She prepares them so they can run their own mock trial, including giving student’s different roles to play, while a real-life judge comes and presides over their mock trial. This gives students an understanding of the law and gets them more familiar with the justice system to help them see themselves reflected in it.
Because of all her community involvement, the College of Law faculty nominated Worme for the Ted and Helen Hughes Prize for Excellence. This award is a prize for academic achievement and involvement with Indigenous children and youth in the law. Because Worme had not applied for this award, the shock of receiving it was even greater. The Ted and Helen Hughes Prize for Excellence scholarship fund was established to recognize and reward a Juris Doctor or Masters of Law student for their work concerning Indigenous children or youth and the law.
“The first thing that ran through my mind is, ‘Are you sure that’s for me?'" Worme recalled. She said she was shocked and ecstatic, having to be told a few times before it became real to her. "I was freaking out; it was such a big surprise!" After the initial excitement settled, gratitude overcame Worme.
“It was extremely encouraging. I think being a bit of an older student in the college; I have struggled to feel like I fit in with the college sometimes. Getting this scholarship has supported me and made me feel validated and valued at the college. It had quite an emotional impact on me.”
The benefits of this scholarship are still impacting Worme’s life today. On the first weekend of June 2019, Worme was in Gatineau, Quebec, attending a conference held by Indigenous Justice, thanks to the support of the Ted and Helen Hughes Prize for Excellence. “Justice Canada invited me to go as the president of the Indigenous Law Students’ Association. I would not have had the money in the bank to put up the funds to be able to get myself there and back and take part in that national conversation on Indigenous justice.”
Worme explained that the experience of receiving a scholarship is endearing, as she holds philanthropy close to her heart. “My family has been involved in a foundation for the last seven years, as well as running a philanthropic foundation. I believe that it is based on values like love and community that are truly missing in society these days.”
Rheana said that receiving scholarship support has made a world of difference. "I feel very supported by the community and by the college.”