Scholarship makes university a reality for recipient

Corey Hildebrand of the Winkler Community Foundation presents Maria Gruen with the Make It A Reality Scholarship. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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Maria Gruen was announced as the 2019 Gordon Wiebe Make It A Reality Scholarship recipient at a ceremony held at Winkler City Hall, May 16.
This is third year the $20,000 scholarship has been presented to a Winkler student.
“The Winkler Community Foundation’s Scholarships Committee is impressed with her commitment to serving community, her resilience in navigating barriers and the leadership that she has shown in her drive to realize her life goals,” they said in a press release. “Her dream is to inspire people around her to do their best and help others. She recognizes the importance of a supportive community; to help others and be active within the community.”
Gruen said a representative of the community foundation came to school and told her the good news. “I burst into tears,” she said. “I was very happy. The rest of the day I was on a cloud, just floating.”
She added that this scholarship means she can live out her dreams.
“I feel extremely privileged to get this award to pursue my post secondary education…” she said. “Before, that might have not been a reality.”
“I am super happy, super pumped, looking forward to going to university and just getting my education and seeing where that takes me in life,” she added.
Gruen is the eighth child in a family of 13, and helps take care of her siblings and do chores while participating in sports and volunteering. She will be the first female from her family to go to university.
“It means a lot,” she said. “It helps me show my younger siblings as well they can pursue this.”
“It’s hard to be the first one to step up, but that’s what I’m doing,” she added. “I’m pretty excited to do that with the help of the community.”
Gruen said being part of a large family means there’s always friends, always noise and lots of people around.
“Some of the challenges are all the noise when you’re studying,” she said. “Mostly it’s really nice… lots of siblings to depend on.”
Gruen has also spent time as a student volunteer at Boundary Trails Health Centre and Carman Memorial Hospital. She also volunteers with her church and helps with school fundraisers and sporting events.
She said working at the hospitals helped her decide if her career path with a goal of becoming a pediatrician is right for her.
“I wanted to see if I actually would like going into medicine and liked the setting of hospitals and the things around me,” she said. “I like taking care of people.”
Gruen has wanted to become a doctor since she was 10-years-old but more recently has refined her goal to becoming a pediatrician.
This award became possible thanks to a $2.2 million bequest from former pharmacist Gordon Wiebe in 2015.
That established the Gordon Wiebe Education Fund. Since 2017, the Winkler Community Foundation has distributed $137,000 in scholarships. An additional $87,000 will be awarded in 2019, impacting 39 students.
Gruen said getting the scholarship is inspiring.
“There’s the saying, it takes a community to raise a child, that is true,” she said. “I feel like that’s very important to have people who stand by when things get tricky.”

Maria Gruen was presented with the $20,000 Gordon Wiebe Make It A Reality Scholarship. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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