Scholarship helps Maple Ridge student realize her dreams

Ashley Desautels - Special to The TIMES
Ashley Desautels
— image credit: Special to The TIMES

When she applied to business school and accepted a Black Press scholarship, Ashley Desautels aspired to be corporate lawyer hell-bent on a life in the big city.

But in a few short months of studies at the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Garibaldi Secondary grad Ashley Desautels has shifted gears.

“Upon entering university, I joined the faculty of business intending to become a lawyer, but have since decided that I am going to transition into the sciences, and pursue a medical degree,” she told The TIMES.

““I feel that helping people is something I will feel truly fulfilled in doing, and learning about the intricacies of the human body fascinates me,” she elaborated.

Regardless of her scholastic pursuits, Desautels is grateful to newspaper owner and businessman David Black for helping move her closer to realizing her dreams.

Those goals may still be a little ways off for the Maple Ridge student. But, she believes it is attainable, in part thanks to a $5,000 boast from Black Press.

Some of the financial pressure faced by business students in B.C. – such as Desautels – is reduced each year because of the development eight years ago of the Black Press business scholarships.

Ever year now, graduating high school students in 37 of the province’s school districts – all intending to study business at the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business – can apply for a $5,000 scholarship.

Thanks to Black, the pursuit of Desautels’ education has become a little less daunting, receiving $2,500 in each of her first two terms of study. She started at UVic this past September.

“For me, that meant peace of mind through my first year of university,” she said of the scholarship.

“I am very fortunate in that my parents support me continuing my education and help with the costs in a big way, so this also meant an easier transition for them as I moved into university from high school, as well as allowing for more money to be set aside for future schooling,” Desautels said.

“As I have big plans; completing an undergraduate, and then pursuing further schooling, there is many years to be paid for!” she added.

Outside of school-related activities, Desautels loves to read in her spare time, has been an avid equestrian rider for the past decade, has played the piano for 12 years, volunteers in various capacities, and works out to keep herself fit.

“I’ve lived in Maple Ridge for my whole life, in the same house, and I think that is part of why I was drawn to apply to the University of Victoria, as it is a new experience for me,” the Black Press scholar shared in her original application.

“My goal is to live in a bustling city and have a busy, successful life in which I love what I do.”

How to find out more

Now, it’s time for another Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows student to potentially enjoy that same opportunity.

The scholarship was established in 2008, by Black, to give students from across the province access to a business education.

Black chose the Gustavson School of Business because of the innovative program format.

The Black Press business scholarship is awarded based on academic merit, leadership, and a demonstrated desire to make a positive difference in the world.

Students spend their last two years of their degree fully immersed in the business school where they can specialize in entrepreneurship, service management, international business, or management where they customize a program that suits their interests.

Every student takes at least two paid cooperative work terms, has the opportunity to participate in an international exchange, and learns about sustainable business practices.

Students must apply to the Gustavson School of Business, bachelor of commerce program before Feb. 28 to be eligible.

Information about the Black Press scholarships is available at:

The Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows TIMES is part of Black Press.

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