Anthony Kaddu believes he will save lives, thanks to the scholarships he received from Medicine Hat College donors.
Kaddu was born in Uganda and lost his father to HIV/AIDS at the age of six. In the intervening years, he has committed himself to educating people in his home country about the disease and ways to prevent it. Working for TASO, the first AIDS support organization in East Africa, Kaddu did health talk shows on the radio and in schools and communities to spread the message of health and prevention. He was also a chairperson for the AIDS Challenge Youth Club to promote positive behaviour changes to reduce the spread of HIV.
“I grew up without a father because of this disease and want to prevent others from losing loved ones. I want to give people the courage and the knowledge to protect themselves.”
Kaddu arrived in Toronto alone as a refugee in 2014. His plan was to complete a nursing degree and continue working with the HIV/AIDS population as he had done in his homeland. He was volunteering with LGBTQ communities affected by the disease when a friend from Alberta encouraged him to move west and take advantage of a booming oil patch. Eager to make some quick money to support his education, Kaddu arrived in Brooks, just in time for the bust.
While the economic downturn closed a door, MHC’s practical nurse program opened a new one for Kaddu.
“There I see Brooks Campus and it has this program that I was longing for and had a passion for.”
He started the practical nurse program in the fall of 2015 and found a new home. He began volunteering with Brooks & County Immigration Services to help newcomers settle in to life in Canada and tutoring high school students in math.
But like many students, Kaddu struggled to make ends meet. During his second semester, he learned about the MHC scholarship program and applied, not knowing if he would be eligible for anything. To his surprise, he received four awards.
Now he is wrapping up his final semester in the program and doing his final preceptorship at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. His future goals include becoming a registered nurse and working in the field of HIV/AIDS and psychiatric nursing.
“I would like to thank those people who give with their whole hearts. They did not know me and still they gave. Now I’m going to be able to save lives because of their generosity.”
Annie Knelsen was born in Mexico and grew up in a Mennonite home near Bow Island. She is the first person in her family to attend post-secondary school and, thanks to support from MHC’s scholarship and bursary program, will also fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.
“I am proud of growing up Mennonite,” says the eldest of four children. “Of the work ethic, the morals, and my life. I am so grateful for who I am.”
While many families in Low German-speaking Mexican Mennonite communities don’t encourage education for their children, Knelsen’s parents have been very supportive of her goals.
“More and more kids from our Mennonite community are going to school. It’s definitely changing, it’s encouraging. Lots of the attitude now is based on individual parenting, not wider community views,” explains Knelsen, who hopes that her three younger siblings will follow in her footsteps.
Knelsen was first introduced to the possibilities of a career in nursing while volunteering on a Mercy Ship at age 19. Although she worked in the dining room, she was able to watch the nurses in action as the floating hospital sailed to some of the world’s poorest regions to provide medical care. She returned home, motivated to make a difference in the health and lives of others.
She eventually found her way to Medicine Hat College and enrolled in the nursing program. Although her parents were supportive in her pursuit of post-secondary, they weren’t raised to believe education was important so there was no money set aside for college, says Knelsen.
To assist with her expenses, she applied for scholarships and with one simple form and received several awards.
“Everything that I’ve put into college is my money, what I’ve earned or been awarded. The scholarships have benefited me so much. It gives you that extra push to do good because someone invested in your future.