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Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta - Women of Inspiration Series - Presented by Syncrude

(1 Vote)

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta as part of their Women of Inspiration program offer three, $5,000 scholarships to women in the RMWB to help them achieve their dreams. This program is sponsored by Syncrude Canada who recognizes the value of education. Each year the selection process is difficult as we have so many bright, energetic women. The scholarships bring the women of inspiration program full circle – with each month celebrating one local woman from the RMWB that is a positive role model for youth and who has in her own way made the community a better place to live and play. These scholarships are our way of encouraging the next generation of Women of Inspiration. This year’s scholarship winners are as follows...


Melanie Dene

Melanie has been accepted by the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada. She will be working towards her degree in Indigenous Studies. Once she has completed her undergrad work, Melanie will apply to the University of Saskatchewan program for Legal Studies for Native people. Her dream is to become a successful lawyer in Aboriginal Law.

Melanie’s goals are to work with First Nations communities to help them develop stronger strategies to improve enhancement of economic development, stronger consultation policies and overall healthier communities. Education is her road to being recognized as a role model not only for her two young daughters but for all youth.

Melanie earned her GED through Keyano College and has never stopped her education – be it through the Aboriginal Leadership and Management Development Training or her training on Project Planning Essentials.

Melanie is proud to be a Mikisew Cree First Nations member. Her community involvement includes being a guest speaker for Keyano’s Aboriginal Awareness Day and assistant coach for U6 soccer team.

She serves as the co-chair for CEMA’s Traditional Knowledge Working Group and is currently the consultation co-ordinator for MCFN gov’t and industry relations.

Melanie enjoys working with and for the elders and youth in her community. Her enthusiasm, energy and sincerity are a strong part of who she is and what she does.


Maria Higuerey

Maria’s plans for the future are to attend the University of Alberta and earn her Mechanical Engineer degree. She believes that her innate problem solving and critical thinking skills will ensure her success. Her long term goals are to pursue a career in the Canadian Armed Forces as an aeronautical or aerospace engineer.

Maria’s extracurricular activities include the air cadet program. She is currently a Warrant Officer Second Class. Her dream is to become a pilot and to match this passion with her engineering goals. Maria received the Legion Model of Excellence in 2014. She has also received top level 3 and level 4 cadets. She was proud to win the Lord Strathcona Medal- which is the highest award a cadet can earn. This award was in recognition of exemplary performance in physical and military training. She also earned the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award in 2014 and her silver in 2015. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is all about making a difference in your community.

Maria is also working on getting her gliders pilot license.


Serena Dixon

Serena is a Fort McMurray born and raised girl. She graduated Westwood High School. Serena believes that her path in life is to help people and communities. To accomplish this, she will be pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Calgary. She connected with the Canadian Association of Social Workers website and saw immediately the connection between her personal values and their professional values. She will be exploring fields such as addictions, homelessness, family violence, aboriginal issues and counselling.

Serena’s long term goals are to obtain her Bachelor in Social Work, work the front lines for a few years and then on to earn her Masters in Social Work. Serena’s mantra is a quote from Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Serena’s extracurricular activities and volunteer work commitments include volleyball. She has also given her time to an Adapted Physical Activity program which runs at the U of C. She enjoys helping youth with challenges strive and succeed. She sees herself working with and for the vulnerable and marginalized people.

Serena wants to be a part of positive social change, either at the policy level, within a community, or in just one person’s life. As an activist and advocate, she will help people recognize all of their strengths and capabilities – ultimately aiming to help people help themselves.


All of this year’s scholarship women are amazing and each will do great things in life. They are certainly Strong, Smart and Bold and are the next generation of Women of Inspiration.

For a complete list of the Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration nominees presented by Syncrude, or to nominate a woman who has been an inspiration to you, please visit: