In search of “something bigger”
BC native Ian Sims is the 2011 recipient of the Sc’48½ Mature Student Bursary. Valued at $76,000 over four years, it is the most generous award of its kind in Canada.
Though Ian Sims, Sc’14, hails from British Columbia's interior, he’s not too worried about the cold and snow of winter in Kingston. He’s a little more concerned about where he might snowboard locally. His home town is Prince George, a logging town at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, that’s nearly 800 km north of Vancouver. This is prime snowboarding country.
Ian is the 2011 recipient of the Sc’48½ Mature Student Bursary. At age 26, he’s older than most of his classmates. He spent the past dozen or so years working in BC’s booming construction and mining industries. In fact, he started in construction when he was a 14-year-old high school student, working part-time. At that time he had a notion he might become a lawyer, so he took English and civics courses. But once he started working in the building and mining industries full-time, he found he loved it.
“I figured I might have something bigger in store for myself, but I wasn’t sure what,” he says.
Turns out that he loves mining. “It’s the most bad-ass form of construction there is,” he says, “I knew within a couple of weeks of working in a mine that it was the future for me.”
One kilometre underground in a gold mine, he discovered what he says was “a huge sense of accomplishment and a real sense of being part of a team.”
But Ian didn’t have the math or science background necessary to get the academic credentials he needed to further a career in mining. So while he went back to night school and earned his Grade 10, 11, and 12 credits in math and physics. To his surprise, he found that he was good at it, and so he enrolled in a community college engineering program. That experience proved to him that wanted to go to university and become a professional engineer. His college guidance counsellor helped him apply for scholarships. He didn’t think he stood a chance.
Then one day last spring, Ian got the joyous news that he had been accepted into both Queen’s and UBC with scholarships at both schools. The choice was easy he says, “I liked the sense of history, the opportunity to broaden my horizons, the reputation, and the massive stone buildings here at Queen’s. The campus is just how I imagined it,” he says.
“I’m humbled to receive Sc’48½ Mature Student Bursary. Receiving it is truly is a life-altering experience for me. I’d want to thank both Sc’48½ and Queen's for this opportunity,” he says.
It seems that Ian Sims is on his way to that “something bigger” that he’s been dreaming about.