June 16th, 2024

Six-figure boost for Rita Simons Memorial Award

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 29, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Rita Simons believed anything is possible you put your mind to.
The immigrant from Holland who came to Canada during the Second World War proved that by going back to school at the age of 55 and earning a diploma in health care at Lethbridge College.
On Monday, her daughter Diane Simons and grandson Russell Gallant along with Paula Burns, Lethbridge College CEO and president, announced the extension of the $100,000 Rita Simons Memorial award at Northside Lethbridge Dodge.
Gallant, the general manager of the northside Dodge dealership, said his grandma would be extremely proud of the scholarship which was started six years ago.
Upon arriving in Canada, Simons put her family first, raising all of her children before going back to school, said Gallant. She was only able to complete grade eight because of circumstances but was determined to fulfill her own life goals.
“She worked her butt off, raised the kids” and when she was finished, she decided she wasn’t done yet and wanted to start something new.
In a statement, Diane Simons said “by supporting students we are continuing a family tradition of giving. We want to emphasize my mother’s belief in the importance of education, having a strong work ethic and giving back to those who have helped along the way.”
Each year, $2,500 is given to each of eight students, four who are enrolled in the LC’s automotive service technician, carpenter, electrician or heavy equipment technician apprenticeship training programs, and who is enrolled in Automotive Systems.
The other three awards are open to students in any program with a focus on those who are Indigenous, single-custodial parents or mature students.
“We’ve done six year of the Rita Simons Memorial Award,” said Gallant, the last five years associated with Lethbridge College.
“She’d be extremely proud. She loved living in Lethbridge, she was a proud member of the community and for us to be able to support people at that grassroots level in her memory, always having her in front of our mind, I don’t know if words can explain how she’d feel but I know she’s watching and she’s with us today,” said Gallant.
“And that just makes me so proud.”
He said the fact the family can help people achieve their post-secondary education goals and to have that support from Lethbridge Dodge and its team is rewarding.
“To have a positive story, a positive influence on the community you couldn’t ask for more,” Gallant added.
Simons said he can imagine for his grandmother walking into a classroom at 55 it was probably intimidating, scary and overwhelming but “to put your mind to something and to dedicate your hard work to it, that’s what Rita Simon’s Memorial scholarship was. To hear from the recipients that have received it, to hear their stories, I know the right people are getting this award and they have the same values she had.”

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