Danielle Ignacio-Pacunayen is was to enter her final year of marketing at the University of Calgary this fall with a new scholarship in tow, but was held back a few days by Hurricane Irma.
She said she was surprised to learn she was this year’s of a $1,500 scholarship from the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said over the phone Tuesday from Tampa, Fla., where she is visiting her boyfriend.
The University of Calgary marketing major is going into her final year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Ignacio-Pacunayen said she is grateful to the chamber for the award, which will supplement her tuition.
“Even having our student financial assistance, there’s a lot of unexpected expenses that come up when you’re away from home,” she said. “This has been a godsend for me.”
The scholarship is given out annually to a Yellowknife student enrolled in a post-secondary business program who plans work in NWT after graduation.
Ignacio-Pacunayen found out she won the scholarship in mid-August, while working in Yellowknife as a summer student at the federal government’s public services and procurement department.
“It was a really nice surprise,” she said. “I just can’t wait to go back to school.”
Ignacio-Pacunayen chose to major in marketing because it allows for creativity and is “a little more practical” than international relations, another degree she was considering.
After graduating, she would like to promote Northern tourism to the rest of Canada and internationally, either for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, or on her own.
“That would be the coolest and best thing that I could do up north, as of right now,” she said.
According to chamber executive director Deneen Everette, the chamber received submissions from seven “very qualified applicants.”
Ignacio-Pacunayen was chosen for her academic achievements in university, and her community involvement.
“Danielle did a really excellent job at demonstrating that she was a very qualified candidate,” said Everett.
As a volunteer with non-profit Enactus Calgary, Ignacio-Pacunayen works to promote business literacy. The organization’s Empower program, for example, helps female immigrants navigate the bureaucracy of starting a new company in Calgary.
“It’s been a really successful program, especially because Calgary’s such a big place for newcomers,” said Ignacio-Pacunayen.
For Everett, the scholarship program is a way for the chamber of commerce to encourage economic development in the territory.
“We really wanted to encourage young people to pursue a post-secondary education in business. There are a lot of opportunities here in the north, and we wanted to put our money where our mouth is and support students who would potentially come back,” she said.