Like most teenagers, Hillary struggled to fit in during her high school years at Terry Fox Secondary.

“High school was hard, early on I fell in with the wrong crowd of people and that lead me to make some bad choices.”

Because of those choices, she stopped focusing on her schoolwork, started experimenting with drugs and alcohol and suffered from depression and anxiety. Hillary says, “Those were difficult years, I spent two years with people who claimed they were my friends, and then one day they suddenly turned on me.  I was abandoned by my so-called friends and bullied constantly.”

That was her wake-up call, and she knew that she had to make some serious changes in her life. Focusing on her schoolwork, she started to see the benefits of living a healthier and more determined lifestyle.  Her grades improved and she felt more positive about her future.  She wasn’t the only one who noticed.

She says, “My high school guidance councillor called me in to his office one day and told me about the STAND Foundation.  He saw the changes I had made in my life and practically forced me to apply for the scholarship!” Hillary received a STAND Foundation grant for her first semester at Capilano University, where she found a budding passion for motion picture production. “The program is intense, but I’ve met a lot of good people who I hope I can work with in the future,” says Hillary. The motion picture production program allows students to work at their own pace and accomplish a degree in one to three years.

“I’d like to finish the course sooner rather than later.  I’m eager to start working in the television industry here in Vancouver, but I know how important finishing my education is,” Hillary says. Although she is currently focused on set design, she says it’s the flexibility of the industry that makes her comfortable with her future, “I love the film and television industry because I have the opportunity to explore so many different job opportunities.  The whole industry works as a team and with my training and education I feel like I’m a valued part of that team.”

The experience with STAND has been so uplifting she’s already started recommending the scholarship to others. “I have a friend who is a year younger, and has struggled with problems much larger than my own.  I’ve already told her to apply for the scholarship; I want to see her get the same opportunity to change her life as I have.  There are a lot of people that don’t believe in themselves and are unhappy, and STAND helps give them a chance to pursue what they love, to propel themselves forward.”

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