By: Michelle Berg

Back in 2016, I started the Elevated Street Smart Award at my high school; I wasn’t as book smart as others but I was out there hustling like crazy whether it was holding down a job, volunteering or doing extra curricular events. So the goal was to give back to someone who was willing to put in the work, but just in a different way! 

Now that I’m 20 years out of high school (good grief I got old) I figured this would be a good year to provide not just one award, but two.  So I gave our intern the tough task of selecting the winner (cause let’s face it – I probably would give an award to everyone who applied if I could!)

Here’s Paola’s take:

Get to know Ashton Dueck and Keira Thurston!

Holy – did we ever receive some heartfelt essays from all applicants! However, to get to know each candidate better, I decided to arrange a phone interview with each one and it was apparent two popped up to the top real fast!

When first speaking with Ashton over the phone, we knew right away she had brought her A game. Ashton shared with Team Elevated a story of victory that was near to her heart. At the beginning of her softball season last year, her team had come in as underdogs. By the end, they finished second place in Western Canada. It was clear her tenacious personality translated from sports to her personal goals. After mentioning she was accepted to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Kinesiology, we got to know Ashton’s future dream job. She was very logical about the progression her educational and professional career had to take before becoming a team trainer. We could practically see the smile on her face as she imagined one day travelling with a team. There are no better words than how Ashton described it herself: “This is my dream job, because it is all my interests wrapped up in one”.

Then I chatted with Keira. Keira was charming, and interested in the sciences as much as the performing arts. A well-rounded individual Keira dances and has been a member of jazz, chamber, and concert choirs. She was accepted to the University of British Columbia, where she plans to pursue a major in Microbiology and Immunology. It was not just the challenging educational program that lured her to the West coast, but also the numerous clubs and extracurricular activities that will provide her with a well-rounded university experience. Although it sounds counterintuitive, we felt Keira’s love her community in Manitoba was a driving force in her decision to attend UBC. Keira’s voice was full of excitement as she discussed the possibilities of travelling a semester abroad and volunteering. We know Keira will manage to make British Columbia feel like home due to her friendly nature and willingness to be involved.

Although it was the girls’ “hustle” that had initiated the conversation through the application, it is part of being “Street Smart” to know when you need to take a breath and catch up with yourself. Both Ashton and Keira blew us away with their incredibly mature answers to how they prioritize themselves when times get a little hectic. So, if there is one take away from this blog, make sure to listen to these girls’ advice on how to put yourself first:

  • Add in stress relievers to your schedule, such as dancing and yoga to your schedule,
  • Take time to get to know yourself and your limits,
  • Learn to listen to your mind and body when it says, “I need to get out of the house”,
  • Practice time management by using a schedule, and
  • Surround yourself with a strong support system

Now a quick message for the girls:

Once again, we thank you for applying and congratulations! We know this will be a little cheesy and cliché, but work hard and follow your dreams. Remember the path to success is not the easier path, but it is the most rewarding path at the end of the day! Or something like that… 😉 Congrats once again girls. Keep hustling, enjoy university, and enjoy a tasty beverage on our behalf (maybe two…especially the good kind)!


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