By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Michael Ong was looking at the prospect of taking out thousands of dollars in loans to pay for his post-secondary education. Now, the Oshawa teen is getting a helping hand.
Ong is one of 80 winners of the Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarship, which will give him $5,000 towards furthering his education after he graduates from high school this year.
When Ong first heard about the scholarship, which is awarded to students who are in financial need and have overcome adversity while keeping up the good grades, he thought he was a perfect fit.
“I thought I fit the bill and I put in an application. The income in my household is quite low, so I thought I definitely would qualify there,” he says.
“For adversity, they wanted me to write an essay based off one of the…past award winners. A lot of them had pretty tight family ties, but mine was a bit shaky at best, so I thought I wasn’t going to get it. But I guess I wrote a compelling essay.”
Ong says the shaky relationship at home was brought on by what he sees as bad financial decisions in his family, which saw him having to chip in to keep the bills paid.
“I started having to give part of my paycheque or my mom was asking for money at the end of the month for this bill or that bill. There just wasn’t any steady income coming, especially for some of the purchases that were being made. There was too much purchasing with borrowed money that really affected me,” he says.
“It wasn’t like it was 80 per cent of it or anything, but it was enough that I would be really worried about what would happen the next month.”
However, Ong says this experience has helped prepare him for the road ahead.
“Whenever you can view the world from a different perspective…I think that’s real beneficial, especially when you get into major debt when you leave university,” he says.
“It’s absolutely crucial to know how to manage money and how to really organize it.”