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  • Susan O’Brien Memorial Scholarship

    Susan O’Brien was a shy, intelligent, yet athletic youth with a passion for basketball. After high school, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she completed her degree in science.

    In 2008, Susan and her husband, Ron Woznow, co-founded The Family Food Research Foundation, a registered charity with the mandate to help Indigenous youth from across Canada pursue a post-secondary degree. The Family Food Research Foundation was later renamed The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation and shifted its focus to introduce Indigenous students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs at universities. In her volunteer role as foundation administrator from 2009 to 2020, she facilitated 550 students' attendance at 10 different universities. Her commitment to the Foundation and our students was relentless and she worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and care of all participants.

    Sadly, on January 18, 2022, Susan passed away suddenly. To commemorate Susan’s hard work and dedication to The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation, our Foundation is offering one $1,500 scholarship to an Indigenous student that has completed the VJKF Program each year for five years, starting in 2023.

  • Eligibility

    • Student self-identifies as First Nations (status or non-status), M├ętis, or Inuit.
    • Completed the VJKF Program in 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026 or 2027. (One scholarship will be awarded to a participant in the program each year.)
    • Students are only eligible to apply in the year they graduate the VJKF Program.
    • Students must be in either grades 11 or 12 to apply.
    • Students must complete the scholarship application to be eligible.

  • Terms of Reference

    Susan O’Brien was instrumental in founding the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation and its programs. Following her passing, the Board of Directors unanimously approved the creation of this scholarship in her honour.

  1. The scholarship is named the Susan O’Brien Memorial Scholarship.
  2. One scholarship will be offered to a student in each of five years, beginning in 2023.
  3. Each scholarship will have a value of $1,500.
  4. Students must have completed the one-week VJKF Program.
  5. The basis of the award will be leadership potential as demonstrated during the annual week-long VJKF Program.
  6. Payment will be made when the awardee has begun attendance at a publicly funded university or college, within two years of successfully completing grade 12. (Approved post-secondary institutions: A copy of student’s university/college schedule will be required to prove enrollment.)
  7. A student is only eligible to receive this scholarship once.

How to Apply

Once you've completed the VJKF program (starting in 2023), you can apply for this scholarship opportunity. If your membership status hasn't been updated to a Kirkness Scholar by September 1st after you complete the program, please get in touch with us, so our staff can update your profile. Once your status has been updated to Kirkness Scholar, you can see additional dropdown pages under the "Apply Now" tab, which will show all the scholarships you can apply for.


The Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation logo

To increase the number of Indigenous students graduating from pure and applied science, engineering, and mathematics programs in Canada. Charity Registration #822843629 RR 0001

Picture of student in a lab with a microscope behind them.

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