When I started the Spark of Hope Foundation in April 2014, I wanted the Foundation to cater broadly to a wide swath of women, at universities around the world.
But, I also dreamt of one day seeing a number of Spark of Hope Scholars graduate from Ivy League or other top-ranked universities. Armed with this level of education, I am confident that they will go on to provide exceptional leadership in the world.
To get into such a program at the undergraduate level usually requires top grades, superb entrance exam scores, a very high level of English, deep extra-curricular involvement, outstanding college essays, excellent references and often, great interview skills. A VERY tall order when English is your second language, you live in an area of conflict or a refugee camp or in a remote area, often with such limited resources that even application fees and entrance exams are out of reach.
Having previously been closely involved with many top independent schools in North America, I thought: what if we could get a student to spend Grades 11 and 12 at one of these boarding schools and help her prepare for admission to a top school, while also helping her develop her self-confidence and natural talents? This of course pre-supposes that her parents will let her leave home at age 16 to live away for two years!
However, the annual costs at such a school would be totally out of reach for the Foundation – unless we could partner with a forward thinking school, and get them to generously support such a student.
So I approached a friend, Pat Parisi, the former head of school at St. Clement’s School, Toronto and shared my vision. In typical Pat fashion, she quizzed me about the why; how the Foundation would add value, what I saw the school getting out of the arrangement, and a host of other questions. I must have passed muster, because she suggested we approach the incoming head of Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario to gauge her reaction at this request.
In short order, the school made a wonderful offer! I am delighted to announce that Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario has agreed to generously support two such students, for Grades 11 and 12, from September 2016. Together, we are confident that these alumna of Trafalgar Castle will one day make a huge mark as they graduate from high school, get admission to top schools and gradually, take on leadership positions in the world. The Foundation is indebted to Dr. Foster and the Trafalgar Castle School community for their leadership in stepping forward on this bold venture. We are hopeful that other girl’s boarding schools will follow their example and join this initiative.
I am ecstatic, for this is the start of a dream coming true: that within the nextÂ 10 years, every year, 20 such young women graduate from top girls’ high schools, ready and prepared to start their university undergraduate education at one of the top educational institutions in the world!