Taish Tommy, VIU ABE student, is the winner of the Mike Coleman Citizenship Award for 2020. (Vancouver Island University photo)

Taish Tommy, VIU ABE student, is the winner of the Mike Coleman Citizenship Award for 2020. (Vancouver Island University photo)

VIU Cowichan student awarded for community service

The Mike Coleman Award for Citizenship

By Annette Lucas

Vantaishia (Taish) Tommy knows exactly where she wants to be when she has finished her educational journey — protecting the rights and habitats of animals of all kinds and sizes around the world.

The Adult Basic Education student, who was recently given the Mike Coleman Award for Citizenship, has a few more years to go before she can realize her dream of becoming a wildlife veterinarian, but it’s a dream she knows she will achieve. She credits the instructors at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus for making her feel like she can accomplish anything.

“Attending VIU Cowichan has changed me in the best of ways,” says Tommy. “I’m no longer as shy as I used to be, and I don’t feel judged or embarrassed to ask for help. I gained the courage and eagerness to be able to speak up during classes, to ask questions or answer them, as well as express my ideas.”

The Mike Coleman Award for Citizenship is granted to a student attending the Cowichan campus who has demonstrated good citizenship both in the community and at the university and is a good well-rounded student. Tommy was awarded $250 and a plaque.

“Taish is a warm and friendly person who brings a positive and calming effect to her classes,” says Dan Vaillancourt, an Adult Basic Education Instructor. “She is very approachable, understanding and is a quiet leader. She sets the tone for meaningful and respectful participation in the classroom and is supportive of her fellow students. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow in confidence over the past few years to become a contributing member of the VIU community.”

On her own at the age of 17, Tommy reluctantly dropped out of high school because she had rent to pay. It was after she had a child at the age of 19 that she knew she had to go back to school to make a better life for herself and her son. Tommy laid out a 10-year plan for herself to obtain a master’s degree and eventually a PhD.

“I enrolled in the Adult Basic Education Program at VIU so I could graduate, which I have done and now I am taking physics and chemistry, which I will need to pursue my bachelor’s degree,” says Tommy. “I did a lot of research on careers and working with animals. A lot of opportunities will open up to me when I become a wildlife veterinarian. It will allow me to work with small animals as well as big animals such as elephants, lions and bears, and I can work at aquariums, rehabilitation facilities or clinics anywhere in the world. ”

Former Duncan mayor Mike Coleman started the award more than 20 years ago as a way to encourage young people to do well academically and reward their involvement at school and in the community.

“I believe it’s important to encourage community involvement and commitment and to endorse those who step out and do that kind of thing,” says Coleman. “I have been really impressed with the students who have won the award over the years. The more encouragement we can give our young people the better off society is. That’s why I continue to support the award, recognizing their contributions is an investment in the future of the community.”

Despite her school and workload, Tommy always finds time to support her community through bottle drives, auctions, car washes, bake sales, shoveling parking lots and driveways, helping with renovations, Cowichan Tribes Elder’s lunches, community clean-up activities, Big Brothers and Big Sisters or volunteering at a local soup kitchen.

“I am ecstatic and grateful for the award,” says Tommy. “It’s heartwarming to see the impact I have made on the whole school.”

Annette Lucas is a communications officer with Vancouver Island University.

Education

Just Posted

An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: This mother is grinning and bearing it

News broke the other day that, after months in hibernation, Grouse Mountain’s… Continue reading

An online cooking lesson with Ian Blom, the Red Seal Chef from the Ainslie Restaurant, is one of the items on auction in a fundraiser for the Duncan Curling Club and other causes. (Submitted photo)
Online action being held to assist Duncan Curling Club and other causes

Auction, run by the Duncan Rotary Club, closes May 22

Police tape crosses Auchinachie Road at Somenos Road as police investigate an incident Friday at 11:30 a.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
UPDATE: North Cowichan neighbourhood, school evacuated after gardener digs up explosives

Students removed from Ecole Mount Prevost school in an ‘abundance of caution’

The Cowichan Valley Naturalists are offering a look at B.C.’s glass sponge reefs at a presentation on May 18. (Adam Taylor photo)
A&E column: Glass sponge reefs; AGM; and new book

What’s going on in arts and entertainment in the Cowichan Valley

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident on Island nets almost 10-year sentence

Saanich man was arrested without incident north of Courtenay in 2018

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Most Read