Athena Software is pleased to announce that Bethany Higgins is the recipient of the Athena Software Stronger Together Scholarship, a financial award given annually to a student in the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Waterloo, Ont.
The $3,000 award is given each year to a student in the two-year full-time or four-year part-time MSW program at WLU who pairs strong academic achievement with excellence in the field through activity or social action related to the wellbeing of families in the community.
The annual scholarship was established in 2008 in honour of Bernard Porlier, the former executive director of K-W Counselling Services, whose life-long contribution to the wellbeing of individuals and families in Waterloo Region inspired the award.
This year’s recipient, Bethany Higgins, is halfway through the two-year MSW program at WLU and her academic achievements are particularly notable, given that she is pursuing her studies online while raising three young boys (including a newborn) and running the family farm with her husband on the Northern Ontario island where they live.
“I applied for this program in order to pursue my career as a social worker while my husband stays home with our children and works on our farm,” she said. “We are pursuing a unique way of life, and for me this is a reflection of my desire to think in ways outside of the box about what it means to cultivate the holistic wellbeing of families and youth, especially here in the North. I hope to work not just directly with families but also eventually on an organizational, community, or even policy level in advocating for families in some really creative and transformational ways.”
Bethany said she’s grateful to WLU for the opportunity to pursue her MSW from home and said the online program has helped expand her practical and theoretical understanding of social work, while allowing her to stay close to her growing family. She said the scholarship has helped provide much-needed financial relief as she continues to work toward her career goals.
“It’s made quite a big difference for us, especially because I had been planning on getting part-time work and was unable to do so with having a baby,” she said. “It really took a lot of stress off of my family during this time because of that aspect. Looking forward it’ll make a huge difference in terms of our debt load in the future plus our day-to-day living, knowing that we don’t have to go off and find more work for the time being. It’s just a huge, huge gift to us.”
Bethany is looking forward to earning her degree in September 2021 after completing a year-long work experience placement at Algoma Family Services in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
“Hearing students’ stories further reinforces our desire to support them,” said Diane Stanley-Horn, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Athena Software. “I’m inspired by Bethany’s aspirations and I’m glad that Athena could play a small part in helping her realize them.”