Posted on November 9, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Chancellor’s Citation winner Emily Ervin and Dean’s Award winner Reina Shewakramani discuss their first year at Augustana.

By Christopher Thrall

One from down the road, another from the other side of the continent; this year’s winners of the most prestigious university entrance awards don’t seem, on the surface, to have a lot in common.

Reina Shewakramani has lived in Laredo, Texas, since she was six and Emily Ervin went to high school in Wetaskiwin. However, they are alike in a few important ways: the first-year Augustana students both have their sights set on dentistry as a career, and both were recognized for their outstanding high-school grades by the University of Alberta.

“The award completely changed everything for me,” Chancellor’s Citation winner Ervin says. “It made the difference between going into dentistry in debt or not in debt.” To win the award, she not only had to maintain at least a 95 per cent average in grades 10, 11 and 12 but also had to get her application in on time.“I only found out about the award a week-and-a-half before deadline,” she says. Ervin scrambled to get a letter of recommendation from her high-school principal and stayed up late the night before the application was due in order to finish her essay. Despite the time crunch, Ervin’s application arrived on time and she was awarded $15,000 over four years.

The citations were presented at a ceremony on Sept. 26, in Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium. “I was pretty nervous,” admitted Dean’s Citation winner Shewakramani, “I froze a little bit, but then Dr. Epp smiled at me and I felt better.” The $10,000 over four years means she entered undergraduate studies at Augustana Campus with a full scholarship.

“Receiving the award was a welcoming thing for me,” said Shewakramani. “I was pretty surprised. I applied for scholarships, but I wasn’t expecting much.” From the U.S.-Mexico border city, she was looking online for good pre-dental programs when she found U of A Augustana’s program. “Augustana has a great reputation,” Shewakramani declared, “as does U of A’s dental school.”

“Now that I’m here, I completely support my decision,” she says. “It’s a completely different atmosphere here—the courses open up my mind. I have to think and apply knowledge, rather than just spit out formulas.” Her new friends in residence and the International Cultures Club helped her with homesickness at first; now she feels at home here.

Ervin feels at home as well, since she commutes from her parents’ place in nearby Wetaskiwin. The driven young baccalaureate student had always intended to attend Augustana, and living at home is the more pragmatic option to avoid the extra cost of staying on campus. She wants nothing to distract her from school, which is simply an extension of the attitude that landed her the award in the first place.

“So many kids in high school think that you need to hold a job,” said Ervin, “and they just end up spending all the money. I thought of school as my job and spent just as many hours at it.” She figures that she profited more from her schoolwork than she would have from any part-time job, and all of the proceeds went to her education – her future.

“If you actually devote your time to school, it does pay off,” she said with pride.

For more information or to apply for Augustana Campus and University of Alberta scholarships and awards, visit Follow the links for specific award categories.

Posted in Augustana Campus. | Permalink

Comments are closed.