Kiersten Atamanyk was awarded a $1000 scholarship from the Canadian Slovak League (CSL) in the University category. Kiersten is a member of Branch 23 (Welland, Ontario) since 2013. She graduated from Notre Dame High School (Welland) in June 2017 with 89.7% average, and is currently attending Brock University (St. Catharines) in the Co-op Environmental and Geoscience program.
This year, CSL has decided to award one scholarship in the University category and one scholarship in the College category. Unfortunately, no one qualified for the College category. The scholarship applicants had to meet the following criteria to qualify:
1) Graduate with 80% average in 2016-17 and provide an official transcript.
2) Be a Branch member in good standing since Dec 2015, or earlier.
3) Submit an essay how they were involved with the League.
4) Provide a letter from their Branch executive certifying that the applicant was a member for minimum 2 years and how they were active in the League.
5) Must be accepted to a University or College for the academic year 2017-18.
Kiersten explains her story in her own words: “Throughout my life I have been strongly influenced by the Slovak culture by my grandparents and their strong roots and heritage as Slovaks. From a young age, they taught me how to say different words and phrases in the language, prepared meals in the same fashion as their parents, and taught me to be proud of my Slovak background. Because of this influence, my family became members of Branch 23 in Welland of the Canadian Slovak League.
When I first joined in 2013, I got to experience the Slovak community for the first time by attending the dinners and banquets held at St. Anthony’s church. I was able to hear other people’s stories as Slovaks, where they used to live, how they came to Canada, and what growing up was like. It was at these dinners that I saw the traditional Slovak dancers perform. Even though I have danced all my life, I had never seen anything like it before, it made me feel closer to my heritage to see something I enjoyed being performed in the style of my Slovak background.
In 2014, I became the Kráska for Branch 23 which was an incredible honour. I represented the Branch at Slovak Day in Milton, Ontario, as well as at the World Ball at Casa Dante Club in Welland. I also had Kráska duties at the Branch luncheons, such as greeting people at the door, handing out salted bread, and selling tickets for the draw held on Slovak Day in Milton. It was truly a great experience and a privilege to represent both the Branch and my heritage, along with wearing the traditional dress similar to the ones my grandmother had as a child. I believe I made her very proud by expressing my love and interest in her roots. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive person to help me sell tickets to as many people as possible, help me get in the traditional dress, and be at every event where I represented my Branch. I will most definitely cherish those moments for the rest of my life.
I was fortunate enough to be the Kráska for my Branch until 2016 when my younger sister took over the position. While I much enjoyed my time as the Kráska, I was happy to pass down the honour to her. She is presently still the Kráska, however my grandmother and I assist her at luncheons and events by helping her sell tickets or just simply being there to support her heritage as well as our Branch. Every year my family attends the luncheons, dinners, and other Slovak events, along with helping out by volunteering at such events. The Canadian Slovak League will continue to be a big part of my life. I and my family will continue to help support our Branch and the Canadian Slovak League by attending the functions they host and make it possible for my children to have the same opportunity to learn about and experience their heritage.”
The Welland Branch 23 President, Christine Dzugan, submitted a letter to support Kiersten’s scholarship application.
She stated that Kiersten was a member in good standing since 2013 and was active in the Branch as stated above.