Rebecca Wilson photo/Telegraph Journal

High school student beats poverty odds, heads to UNBSJ with $65,000 scholarship

by Rebecca Watson - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

Tyler Adams, a Saint John High Grade 12 student, says he's determined to break the perpetual cycle of poverty - and he's well on his way.

The 17-year-old, who was raised by a single mother, who had Adams when she was a teenager, and achieved a 97 per cent average this semester, has been awarded a scholarship worth $65,000 to attend the University of New Brunswick for four years.

"It felt amazing," Adams said in an interview Tuesday."I'm prideful, grateful and I definitely won't be taking it for granted."

The theme of the Richard J. Curry Undergraduate Scholarship is overcoming a barrier.

To apply for the scholarship, Adams had to submit his transcripts, two letters of recommendation and write an essay on personal hardships.

Having grown up in Crescent Valley, a low-income neighbourhood in Saint John, with two younger siblings and only one parent living on assistance, often times were tough financially, Adams said.

"Living where I live I've seen a lot of generations grow up in the same place in a cycle," he said. "I'd like to show people it's not where you come from,it's what you do with your life and what you have in front of you."

From sports to events to travel, it was hard for Adams to do all the same things that his friends were doing because of a shortage of money.

"But with help of my family and friends and everyone supporting me, I've been able to get by that," he said. "I've been able to do what I've wanted to do with the help of everybody."

Adams is a provincial track and field medallist and competes in cross country.

He is also in the military part time as a medic in training and attended a youth leadership camp in 2014 run by the Royal Canadian Legion.

All triumphs aside, last summer Adams went through the hardest thing he's ever had to go through, and probably ever will, he said.

"My father committed suicide while I was at basic training in Gagetown," he said, adding his mom had driven up to tell him in person."When she told me, my heart sank. I got a feeling in my gut I'd never had before."

The military told Adams that he could leave with full pay of 60 days or take three days and come back. Although that meant he would miss his dad's funeral, Adams decided to stay.

"I went back not for myself but for my dad, to make him proud,"he said."I wanted to show him in life when something happens you get up and get over it like he's always taught me."

He will be the first in his family to attend university and is planning to take kinesiology - the study of human movement - with an ultimate goal of going to med school, he said.

"It seems like a long shot to do that but that's my goal,"he said."I really just want to make my family proud by going to university and now that everything is lined up, I get to show their investments into me wasn't for nothing,it meant something."

Another goal Adams has is to remain a role model for his family, friends and anyone that lives in a low-income neighbourhood, he said.

"I'm the story that shows that it's possible,"he said."That anybody who is in a bad situation and wants to be better can do it if you want to do it."