In SCI BC News, News & Blog, Peer Profiles

Last year, Spinal Cord Injury BC was proud to announce that the GRAGOPEAN Scholarship Trust would provide over $83,000 in scholastic funding through a partnership with the Vancouver Foundation. We recently caught up with a few of the deserving recipients to see how the funding has impacted their lives.


How the GRAGOPEAN Scholarship Trust Changed Everything: Q+A with Riley Martin

What are you currently studying?

Law at the University of Victoria, faculty of law. I’m in the first year of their Juris Doctor program.

Why did you choose this program?

The world of law was really introduced to me during my settlement process with ICBC after the accident that caused my SCI. My lawyer and I formed a really strong relationship, and he helped me through the tough times in a lot more ways than just “making me whole” through the end result. We’re still friends to this day and we often meet for lunch and to catch up. The further I get into my program, the more I can see myself trying to do the same for someone else, even if it’s not my main practice area of interest.

How has receiving the GRAGOPEAN Scholarship Trust helped you pursue your academic and personal goals?

The scholarship has lifted the financial burden of law school pretty much in its entirety, which is already paying dividends in terms of my mental health. This program is far more rigorous than undergrad or grad school, and I can’t describe how thankful I am that I won’t have any more stress thinking about loans to pay off. This allows me to put more time into the courses and myself, which so far has been a good tactic. The improved financial footing this will give me when I’m done in a couple years also changes my viable options coming out of law school. Some classmates comment on needing to find a big-law high-paying, 80 hours/week job just to pay off loans, while I can step right into a role where my interests lie and make an impact without the same concerns.


I’ve found it’s good to stay grounded and remember everyone is on their own path

How do you hope to use this education to pursue future goals?

There are a lot of other charitable avenues to go with a law degree, and that is kind of the path I have been on all along. I’d love to combine my non-profit experience with this when it’s all said and done and find my place in non-profit law or the like.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned since receiving the scholarship and starting school?

I think, especially in this program, I’ve found it’s good to stay grounded and remember everyone is on their own path. Some people are always running at 110 per cent and it’s impossible to keep up with them, some already have jobs lined up for three years down the road, that kind of thing. It’s hard not to get sucked into the stress of being on that level, which can’t always be done, at least for me. So I take a step back, remember what works for me, how I got here, and how to continue to succeed!

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

Shoot your shot! The upside to applying is massive and the help is there for a reason, from people and organizations who want to help. Don’t hesitate!


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