Government awards scholarships to four TWU master's students

A master's student at Trinity Western University, Williams was awarded $17,500 to continue her research on families under stress. The award is given by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), a federal agency that funds university-based research to fuel innovative thinking about “real life issues” in the social sciences. Williams is one of four TWU graduate students who received the award this year.

“I love research and I believe this is an important area of study,” says Williams, who is researching under Marvin MacDonald, PhD, Associate Professor, TWU. “As a student who has pursued post-secondary study for the last six years, “the award is just a real relief,” she says. “The bills can be quite intimidating. It's a great encouragement to know that I can finish my master's in two years instead of taking time off to work and make ends meet.”

With a base budget of $230 million this year, the government's investment into emerging scholars like Williams is intended to have national implications, hopefully impeding the “brain drain” to the U.S. and abroad. And for Williams, it's working.

“The award has really encouraged me to do my PhD in Canada instead of abroad,” says the Thunder Bay native who was recently named Research Director for “Courage to Cope.” “It's wonderful to have the support of the Canadian government behind its students.”

Equally pleased with their federally-funded scholarships are TWU master's students Shawn Flynn, a UNBC English Literature graduate pursuing research in biblical studies; Krista Socholotiuk, a University of Waterloo graduate studying self-esteem in the field of psychology; and Kent Bergstrom, an all-star basketball player from UNBC, who is currently researching philosophy and theology.

For Bergstrom, an A-plus student in his undergraduate degree, the financial boost was extremely helpful, but it wasn't the only area where he experienced “overwhelming relief.” “It was a relief that my intellectual pursuits were recognized as being more than simply wrestling with a topic that intrigued me. A board devoted to funding the most innovative and valuable thinking ranks my area of research as one that needs to be explored.”

Bergstrom's study within apologetics focuses on skeptical epistemology, an area of philosophy that examines the nature of knowledge. He wrestles with questions people face, such as, “when can you say you know a fact?” and “how can you know that you know?”

Socholotiuk's area of study also fuels innovative thinking about “real life issues.” Though self-esteem is a common word for most people, the concept still leaves much to be explored and understood. “Self-esteem is much more complex than a simple balance of the positive versus negative feelings people have about who they are,” she says. “In my research, I hope to get a better understanding of self-esteem by exploring how the clarity and confidence of one's self-beliefs might be connected to how people feel about themselves in specific situations.” Socholotiuk sees the grant as a great “foot in the door” for eventually earning her PhD.

For Flynn, his research grant has provided him with new experiences that are shaping him as a researcher and a teacher. His teaching assistant duties have opened numerous opportunities in the teaching field, and have also given him an appreciation for instructors. “It's fascinating to be slowly exposed to roles and situations a professor would face,” he says. “I now have an even greater appreciation for the thorns and thistles that make up the role of a professor. Yet at the same time, it has reinforced my desire to pursue such work.” Flynn's work is a thesis-based exploration of the function of sacred space in Old Testament Literature.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-17
Author: Keela Keeping