Samantha has defied the odds stacked against her since birth.

She knows what it means to work hard despite obstacles being thrown at her from every direction.

Samantha’s perseverance was acknowledged last month when she was awarded the Ronald Lees Bursary from the Children’s Aid Society of Nipissing and Parry Sound.

“As an adopted person who has been diagnosed with FASD (fetal alcohol syndrome disorder) I have had to overcome many obstacles related to learning strategies,” she said in her bursary application. “I have to work very hard for my success. I struggle socially and so I have had to come home often to keep a close connection with my family in order to be successful at college.”

Samantha’s mother was an addict. She died from her addiction this spring. In the mist of that tragedy, Samantha was able to successfully pass her first year of studies at Fleming College in Lindsay where she is pursuing a diploma in ecosystems management.

Gisele Hebert, executive director for CAS Nipissing and Parry Sound, said the stories of perseverance are heartwarming.

“Many of these children that we receive applications from are older and come with significant trauma. When you see the successes these young adults have earned, it truly brings a tear to your eye.”

Hebert said the $1,000 bursary is given out annually in honour of Ronald Lees, former executive director at the agency.

“He was extremely passionate about adoption. He made it a priority,” she said Monday. “Ronald was an adoptive parent himself.”

This year, CAS Nipissing and Parry Sound was able to give out three bursaries to young men and women who were adopted through the local agency and are pursuing post-secondary education in a trade, college or university. The other two bursaries were $800 and $500. YES Employment Services provided $500 to help increase the amount being distributed.

Although the province is dealing with COVID-19, CAS Nipissing and Parry Sound is moving forward with its adoption process. In 2019 to 2020, there were nine adoptions, 13 adoptions from 2018 to 2019, 26 adoptions in 2017 to 2018 and 15 adoptions from 2016 to 2017.

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