LETHBRIDGE: A Lethbridge girl can now follow her dreams, thanks to the help she's given others - and a really good friend.
"She's one of the most amazing people I know. She's my best friend, actually," said 16-year-old Marisssa Schmidt of the mentor she met through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. "It's different having a best friend in high school and an adult best friend. Because they've been through things and can help you with things that your other friends can't."
Lisa Selinger has been Marissa's Big Sister for eight years. She's helped her young charge navigate what could be perceived as an atypical upbringing. The grade 10 student was raised in community housing by a single mom who can't work due to illness. It was Selinger's idea Marissa apply for the CIBC Youthvision Scholarship, worth up to $36,000. The award is designed for young people who show a commitment to help the community and may not otherwise get the chance to go to university or college. When she won, she said it couldn't have happened to a nicer kid.
"Marissa is the most positive, outgoing, likeable person I have ever met," said Selinger in a press release. "She never complains about anything." Her personality isn't the only thing that makes her stand out. Marissa has clocked a long history of volunteer work, including pitching in at the humane society, helping with arts programs, working at the hospital and mentoring younger students at her high school.
But amid the media storm that flurried around her this week ahead of the presentation ceremony Thursday night, Marissa remained modest about her accomplishments. "It's nice to put your own needs aside and focus on something completely different. And you're helping the community so that's a great thing too."
The scholarship funds will go toward summer internships at the YMCA as well as her postsecondary education. She plans to become a pediatric nurse.