Calling all artists! Do you have a passion for photography? A thirst for theatre? An appetite for animation? Apply for the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship today! Created in honour of a beloved former VHS staff member, the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship is designed to offset expenses for a student pursuing post-secondary studies in a fine arts or design program. Awarded to one successful candidate every August, this scholarship has helped fund numerous budding artists as they hone their skills and master their crafts. For more inspiration on why you should apply, let’s check out what Amelia Flynn, our 2021 recipient, is up to these days!

Originally from Waterloo, Ontario, Amelia has just finished her first year at the University of Guelph! While she admits that her courses in studio art were intense and time-consuming, she also credits these courses with challenging her to think outside the box and appreciate how art is constantly evolving. As it turns out, Amelia’s favourite courses at Guelph have actually been based in the literary world, where she has discovered her love for poetry, linguistics, and literary theory:

“What links my interest in these disciplines is the possibilities they provide for communication, self-expression, interpretation, and understanding.”

Her keen interest in these areas led her to the field of digital humanities where she is currently working as an undergraduate research assistant for The Orlando Project. As a multidisciplinary and collaborative digital database of feminist literary history, The Orlando Project is used by both students and researchers who wish to study the cultural and historical value of women’s writing across time.

Amelia hopes to continue working as a research assistant throughout her undergraduate program with the end goal of completing graduate studies in English or digital humanities. Eventually, the plan is to pursue a career in academic research and writing, and we can confidently say she’s well on her way to making that dream come true with this level of work ethic and enthusiasm.

A view from a first-year studio art room at U of G

Similar to millions of other students across Canada and around the globe, Amelia had to navigate her transition from high school to university in the midst of the pandemic. Already a traditionally stressful time for many teenagers, Amelia felt prepared to take on the unknown in small part because of her experiences at Virtual High School in the FSF4U course:

“It helped me become more independent and develop stronger organizational skills and self-motivation. Learning through an asynchronous model was also invaluable in preparing me for taking distance education courses at university, where I felt more confident in managing my time and working through course content while juggling the demands of a full course load.”

Receiving the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship last year was a helpful financial advantage for Amelia. With two younger siblings in high school, a hard-working mom, and a pile of school debt lurking around the corner, Amelia was struggling to balance her part-time job at a clothing store with her studies:

“Having this scholarship to rely on allowed me to prioritize my education by stepping back from retail, immersing myself in school life, and putting my energy, time, and focus into my coursework. I had a very successful first year, and I feel very excited about continuing my studies this fall.”

When asked what advice she would give to other students entering their first year of university this fall, Amelia said that the most important element of pursuing a post-secondary degree is to make sure that you’re going after your interests and passions in life:

“Keep an open mind as there is so much more out there in terms of information, options, and future careers than I remember encountering in high school. Look for a university where you feel comfortable and safe and where the professors enjoy teaching and students feel supported.”

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves! Julie O’Rourke had a contagious craving for adventure that was present in everything she did from her artwork to her education to her globetrotting. Amelia certainly embodies Julie’s love and embracement of the wonders and challenges of the world around us.

For more information about how you can apply for the Julie O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship this summer, visit our Bursaries and Scholarships page. Applications are due August 1!

A stop motion animation created by Amelia for a studio art course at U of G