Brooke Esquirol is a second-year psychology student at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), and a summer student at the Canadian Mental Health Association in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Esquirol is a small town Saskatchewan girl, growing up in Edam, but moving to Vegreville, Alberta later in life.
Esquirol always dreamed of going to the University of Saskatchewan to study. However, her educational journey took a slight detour first. She moved to Vegreville and then Edmonton after high school to pursue an interior design diploma, and it seemed like her dream of studying at USask had been forgotten.
However, working as a designer left Esquirol feeling unfulfilled and motivated her to explore a new career path. "I was having a pivotal moment in my life when I realized I was not happy with my career and wanted a change. It sounds cliché, but I just wanted to help people. I wanted a job that left people in a better place than they were when I met them," explained Esquirol.
With the desire to do something that helped people, she took a job with the Canadian Mental Health Association. "I fell in love with it, and I realized that is the path I want to be on. The experience confirmed my desire to pursue psychology.”
It was as if the stars aligned for Esquirol at that time. She had decided to go back to school when a friend of hers who was heading to the University of Saskatchewan asked her to join her and be her roommate. “I was so excited and just said yes! I moved to Saskatoon and applied to USask and it all kind of fell together.”
In her first year, Esquirol was awarded a Centennial Fund award. The award was created by donors in honour of the university’s centennial in 2007 and is awarded to students that demonstrate financial need to support them in their educational pursuits.
Esquirol recalled being in high school and hearing that often scholarships and bursaries go unclaimed, which she said is what prompted her to apply. "I went on the scholarship and bursaries page and applied for all of them. I thought ‘I have nothing to lose!’ and hoped for the best.”
To Esquirol’s surprise, she was selected for this award. “My first thought when I read the email was they got it wrong!” she explained. Esquirol said she couldn’t believe that they chose her for the scholarship. “I didn’t tell anyone for the longest time because I thought it was a glitch. It was the best day ever when I got the money!”
Esquirol talked about the impact the award had on her, both financially and emotionally. “I think the financial benefit directly influences the emotional aspect of receiving an award. When you don’t have that financial burden, your mind is at ease, and you can focus on your studies. It improves your overall state, which is so important for students."
Awards and scholarships affect students in many ways. Esquirol spoke about the motivation and push she felt when she received her award. “The support, the feeling of having people in your corner who truly wanted to see me and other students succeed gives you that boost and feeling that there are people that care about me and want to see me succeed.”
Esquirol reflected on the importance of scholarships and how much they mean to students. “For some students like me, a scholarship can make or break whether or not someone can pursue an education. It can be the difference in whether someone can obtain an education or not.”
She said she is appreciative of the support she’s received from alumni, and plans to pay it forward when she is an alumna herself. "I know I will forever be thankful for this, and after I graduate I want to give back and support the university and the students that are following me. Without the university and its donors, I would not be where I am today."
Esquirol said that she hopes that she can live up to the person she wants to be because of donor support. Receiving this scholarship continues to motivate her in her studies and life, and has encouraged her to put in the extra work to succeed. "I know that by pursuing psychology, I will be able to go out and help people in Saskatchewan have a better life. I hope donors know the widespread difference that they have made. They are not just helping me but are helping the people in Saskatchewan that I hope to work with one day. The difference they are making is huge; I cannot thank them enough."
Over $1.19M was raised during the ALL IN FOR STUDENTS campaign to support student scholarships, awards, and bursaries in the 2018-2019 school year. Read more about how the campaign made a difference for students this past year in our student spotlight series: