Candice Loring had many reasons to give up on education but never did
Overcoming obstacles has been a way of life for Candice Loring — UBC Okanagan’s newest Ch’nook Scholar.
The mother of two boys and third-year Management student is also president of UBC Okanagan’s Indigenous Student Association, a peer support mentor for Aboriginal students, and is only the second UBC Okanagan student to be awarded a Ch’nook Scholarship.
The Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education Initiative recognizes the top 17 Indigenous undergraduate and graduate management students from post-secondary schools across BC and Alberta. The program aims to help grow business capacity and development within Aboriginal communities.
“I’m not at school just for myself,” Loring says. “I’m here for my children and for my community. I want to go back to my reserve and tell everybody how important going to school is.”
Born in a small community near Hazelton, BC, Loring’s first few years were transitional, especially after her parents split up. Her mother moved to Nakusp, where they lived off-reserve, and where Loring was the only obvious Aboriginal student in her school. Lack of self-identity quickly stole young Loring’s drive and determination. By Grade 10 she quit school.
After moving to West Kelowna, pumping gas for a living and working in a restaurant, the dream of running a business with her mother, a pastry chef, motivated her to return to school. At 27, with two young children at home, and as nervous as can be, Loring began studying through UBC Okanagan’s Aboriginal Access Studies program.
But just months into her studies—and just as exams were getting underway—Loring’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and died two weeks later. Loring, and her dreams, were shattered. Instead of turning back and burying herself in grief, however, Loring was more determined than ever to finish her education.
“Coming back to school as a mature student worked out for me because I didn’t have the same distractions as my peers,” she says. “I had a different focus and a family to think about.”
Being a UBC student built Loring’s self-esteem. Through Access Studies, she enrolled in an introduction to management course and Loring, who was once encouraged by a teacher to drop out of school, learned she was smarter than she’d been led to believe and that she felt at home on campus.
With the dream of running a business with her mother at an end, Loring focussed her attention on her studies, UBC’s Indigenous Student Association, and her family. Her husband, who suffers from a progressive debilitating condition, supports her by staying home and caring for their two sons—Caleb, 6, and Jonah, 7, who has Down syndrome.
In 2013 Loring received the UBC Okanagan Woman of the Year award for her community involvement, which included work on a series of Truth and Reconciliation events on campus.
“UBC’s Faculty of Management is extremely proud that one of the 2014 Ch’nook Scholars is studying with us,” says Roger Sudgen, Dean of the Faculty of Management. “Candice’s pathway to the Faculty of Management is illustrative of her determination, drive, and ability.”
Now a third-year student, she continues to enjoy her studies and has a new dream—to return to the Eagle clan and be given her “name”. She wants to give back to her community by becoming a band manager or economic development officer and help Aboriginals realize their dreams.
“UBC Okanagan has an incredible Indigenous program, and the support I’ve received from UBC and the Faculty of Management has been amazing,” says Loring. “You are never alone on your educational journey.”
Ch’nook Scholars give back to the Aboriginal community through a “Cousin Event” where they speak to Grade 9 and 10 students about business studies as a pathway. Candice Loring’s Cousins Day took place in March and 16 high school students spent the day with her on campus.
Ch’nook Cousins Day
Cousins Day, organized by Ch’nook scholars, provides Aboriginal secondary school students with self-advocacy skills to plan-out their post-secondary education. Events include an introduction to post-secondary schools and how to apply, post-secondary survival skills, time management strategies, and tips on taking a management or business degree.
UBC Okanagan’s Aboriginal Access Studies program
The Aboriginal Access Studies program is a bridging program for aboriginal students who do not meet UBC admission requirements. Qualified students attend classes alongside UBC Okanagan degree students, are evaluated according to the same standards and earn the same university recognized credits.