Graduating Oak Bay High student Tessa Jones has won a $40,000 scholarship to attend university for showing resiliency and grit.
Jones will use the Beedie Luminaries scholarship money to attend the University of Victoria where she’ll study social sciences to expand her understanding of the world.
She still doesn’t know what her high school graduation will look like but the climate activist knows she wants to effect change in her future career, and needs to gain more knowledge on how things work before she does that.
“I want to know the socio-economic repercussions that come with pushing for environmental change,” Jones said.
The Grade 12 student became quite involved in the climate protests last year when students took to the Legislature in great numbers.
The Beedies scholarship is new, this is its second year being awarded, and is made available to youths facing financial adversity who excel in four areas of readiness, grit (or resiliency), creativity and empathy.
Even before COVID-19 cancelled what would have been a busy spring for Jones, she managed to ring up a long resume of community efforts.
Jones helped organized a garbage clean-up around Oak Bay High, pulling garbage out of Bowker Creek, and was a leader with the school’s Live Different group. Live Different has a two-year cycle in which the students fundraise for more than one year and then organize and travel to Mexico during the second year to build houses where they’re needed.
Jones traveled to Mexico in 2018 and was supposed to travel with the group again this spring.
“When I was in Grade 10, I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and we built three houses for families, and a project at a local school,” Jones said. “Even though we didn’t get to go this year I was very blessed to have been part of an amazing group. We’ve been holding Zoom meetings to discuss values of empathy, privilege and honesty.”
At one point Jones’ climate activism earned her a speaking invitation for 700 members of the B.C. Teachers Federation to share a youth’s perspective on the education system’s role in climate justice.
Jones was co-captain of the Oak Bay senior girls volleyball team and captain of her Victoria Volleyball Association club team that was unable to play this spring.
Finishing school from a distance has been challenging, but she’s found a way to be grateful for getting an education, she said.
“It’s difficult online, you miss the motivation from peers and teachers,” Jones said.
“The school is working hard to have a virtual grad and a car parade [prom].”
Jones also won a $10,000 entry scholarship to UVic that will be split over a four-year span.