A Steinbach high school student, who has been living in Canada for less than four years, has dreams of becoming a doctor and making a difference in her community. And, for Ansaarah Ali, a scholarship she has just received, will help her reach that goal.

Ali grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, which is a Caribbean island near Venezuela. She says all her life she has wanted to become a doctor, preferring to play with toy doctor tools as a kid, rather than dolls.

"I think I just always wanted a profession that I would devote my life to helping people and caring for others," says Ali.

The grade 12 student from Steinbach Regional Secondary School learned last week that she has received a $2,000 University of Manitoba Guertin Centennial Entrance Scholarship. Ali says it was exciting to read that email, noting it came completely unexpected.

"I didn't apply for it," she explains. "So, I was just kind of entered when I put in my marks for the program itself. So it was based on high-standing admissions from the faculty itself."

That excitement has spilled over to the rest of her family.

"They are basically giving me royal treatment," chuckles Ali. "I'm very glad that I'm making everybody else proud."

Ali says the $2,000 scholarship will cover half of her tuition for the first year. But she says that might not be the most rewarding part.

"I think it's more about gaining the reputation as it kind of just helps you in terms of just being that high-standing admission," she adds. 

Even though the high school student has a busy schedule with her studies, Ali still finds time to work and volunteer. The teenager has worked for Eastman Immigration Services helping tutor new immigrants. Currently, she is volunteering at Bethesda as she cares for residents and helps with charting. Volunteering at the hospital is something she enjoys.

"I think it's just having a feel of being in the medical field basically, caring for them," she explains. "And helping them out and talking to them and also talking to the medical professionals there as well, who give me really good insight about what it's like being in the med field."

Ali will be attending University of Manitoba this fall. That will launch what could be eight to ten years of studies, depending on whether she decides to become a surgeon.

Having lived in Steinbach now for three and a half years, Ali says she is keenly aware of the doctor shortage that exists. She notes while volunteering at Bethesda she can see firsthand the lineups of patients waiting in the waiting room at all times. 

"I would probably like to help in speeding up that process and just making a difference in the Steinbach community," she adds.

Meanwhile, for other students out there, Ali challenges them to work hard and not be scared to dream big.

"Don't be afraid when you encounter challenges," she says. "It will work out in the end, once you work hard."