Hannah Mehain accepts an award from Leanne Hammond, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan. (Photo contributed)

Olympic hopeful gets lift from Okanagan College donors

Last week Hannah Mehain made the Canadian World Junior/U23 Championships team.

Thanks to the generosity of donors to Okanagan College, students are able to gain an education and for some, pursue big dreams at the same time. Hannah Mehain is one.

At age 20, she’s in her second year of science at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus with the goal of studying medicine or physiotherapy. She is also an accomplished cross country skier, who just last week made the Canadian World Junior/U23 Championships team. She will be travelling to Finland in January to compete with the best in the world. After that, her eyes are on the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Related: Future Olympian talent search coming to Kelowna

Related: Okanagan freestyle skier awarded Olympic training grant

“If I did not have the financial support from the College I likely would not be able to compete in cross-country skiing at a high level while going to school,” said Mehain. “Having that support, I can devote my time and energy into doing very well at both. It makes a huge difference.”

Mehain is one of 977 students who received scholarships and bursaries from Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation this year. In total, more than $1.1 million was given to students, with much of the funds made possible through the generous support of donors.

“I want to thank everyone who is helping make my dream and other students’ dreams possible,” said Mehain.

She adds that the College professors have been extremely supportive of her athletic endeavors, providing her with flexibility to complete her studies while attending competitions.

“I love going to school every day because I am interested in the material I am learning and because the professors are passionate and knowledgeable about the material they are teaching,” said Mehain.

In November, nearly $500,000 was handed out to students at three awards ceremonies in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon. The fall award ceremonies provide a timely boost of support for students as the holidays approach. The ceremonies also play an important role in connecting students with the individuals and organizations behind the awards.

“Community support is a significant ingredient in the recipe for student success,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Whether it allows students to pursue their studies while chasing other goals or whether it just relieves some of the financial stress associated with their education that help means a great deal.”

Related: Okanagan Olympian chosen as honourary Team B.C. captain

Related: Online volunteer registration open for Vernon Special Olympics

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Hannah Mehain takes part in a race to qualify for the World Junior/U23 Championships. (Photo contributed: Chris Manhard)

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