The GRAGOPEAN Scholarship Trust provides life-changing scholastic funding through a partnership with the Vancouver Foundation. We recently caught up with Agasha Mutesasira, a deserving recipient who attributes the act of applying for her scholarship as a catalyst for opening many incredible opportunities.
How did you hear about the Gragopean Scholarship?
Jocelyn Maffin told me about the scholarship, and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity. When I found out about it, the deadline was only two weeks away, but I was ready to jump on it!
How was the application process?
I thought that the application would be quite involved, because at the end of the day you’re getting money for your education. I was surprised to find that the form just requires basic information, and that it was all very simple and straightforward. With my tight timeline, one of my worries was getting my references back on time, but they came through!
How did you feel when you found out your application was accepted?
I found out that I was accepted close to August, and it felt good to relieve the burden of my schooling for my parents. Me and my family were so excited and grateful that I got it. For me, this financial help allows me to do things more freely.
What are you currently studying?
I started in 2018, and am getting my bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management at Vancouver Island University.
Why did you choose this program?
My dream is to move home to Uganda one day and open a boutique hotel there. That’s the dream! I’m a hands-on practical person and this course seemed like a natural fit for this. The first two years were very experiential, so I’ve done really interesting co-ops and internships, and I’m also a resident advisor for other students.
Has the scholarship opened doors for you?
Definitely! The year I did my first co-op with Tourism Nanaimo, I met SCI BC’s Bert Abbot and Jocelyn Maffin. Ever since meeting them, I’ve had so many opportunities. BC Games was a new experience for me playing wheelchair basketball. It’s been a great way to be active and meet other people.
There’s also my work with Access BC that I got one month before my semester was done. Through this, I’ve learned about hospitality through the lens of accessibility and inclusion. I knew what access and inclusion meant to me as an individual, but this work really broadened my perspective, and I think it will help with my work in Uganda where accessibility is more of an issue.
The scholarship has also allowed me to have the time to explore my interests in music. I was asked to sing the national anthem for the Vancouver Island University graduating class of 2021, and most recently I released my first song, titled Glide.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned since receiving the scholarship and starting school?
It made me realize that it’s okay to try new things. This scholarship has allowed me to expand my knowledge and experience new things without financial worry. I can focus entirely on what I’m doing.
Do you have any advice for future applicants?
Don’t be worried or overwhelmed about the application process, just try it. Previously, I never received an award. I thought it was an option, but I didn’t expect it. I’m so happy I applied—there’s been a lot of momentum from this one act— it’s opened so many doors.