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Meet two Vale scholars (and their proud dads)

April 21, 2021

Taylar Hanson-Oliveira with her dad Manuel (Guido) Oliveira. Photo: Guido Oliveira

For the fathers of two of our 2020 Vale Reserved Scholarship recipients, the news that their children had been selected inspired a lot of pride and a little bit of relief. 

“She’s worked so hard for her education,” Manuel (Guido) Oliveira, supervisor at T1-Mine, said of his daughter, Taylar Hanson-Oliveira. “I don’t know where she gets the drive, but she makes a dad proud. And to get that kind of support from Vale,” Guido continued, “for our kids, is really nice. Higher education is expensive!” 

These kids and their schooling costs a lot so believe me, the scholarship helps!”

Guido’s sentiment is echoed by Jody Parkes, bulk reagent handler at our Port Colborne refinery, whose son Caleb is also a recipient this year. “Any little bit helps when it comes to schooling,” Jody said. “There are so many expenses and Caleb has worked hard for it. He had a part-time job, he played hockey and through it all, he managed to keep his grades up.” 

Virtual classrooms

As Taylar looks forward to a career as a lawyer and Caleb to one as an instrumentation technician, they’re both similarly grateful for the scholarships and are both looking forward to what the fall holds. Taylar, who’s close to wrapping up her first year at the University of Manitoba, has had to attend all her classes online from her hometown of Thompson. “I’ve liked it so far,” she said, “and I’m really enjoying my classes a lot but it’s also been kind of sad that I’ve been barely able to meet anyone.” 

By her count, Taylar has met two people through her classes and is ready to leave home and join her sister, Morgan, in Winnipeg. “I’m really excited to move and go to school in person,” she added, “and this scholarship helps a lot with costs.”

But while Taylar was actually able to take classes this past year, Caleb has worked two jobs since September — at McDonalds in Fonthill (where he worked part-time throughout high school) and Bicknell Racing Products in St. Catharines. He took on the extra work hours after Fleming College made the decision to suspend its instrumentation and engineering technician program. “It’s such a hands-on and technical program,” Jody said. “There was just no way to do it online.” Caleb also had to reapply for admission and was relieved to secure a spot again. 

“I’m pretty excited about the fall,” Caleb said. “I’m moving out, I’ll be in residence.” And who knows? If things work out, Caleb may be the third generation of his family to work at Vale, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather and father. 

“He’s been through my plant,” Jody said, “and seen the processes. There’s a lot of instrumentation at a refinery and there’s definitely a lot of opportunities for the work he wants to do.” For his part, Caleb is just looking to get through his first year with a focus on securing a summer co-op in the instrumentation field and see what happens. “I just hope the school year can go forward as planned,” he said. 

Bright futures

Jody Parkes, left, and his son Caleb, a recipient of a Vale Reserved Scholarship. Caleb starts an instrumentation technician program this fall. Photo: Jody/Caleb Parkes.

While Jody may be able to soon call his son a colleague, Guido is looking forward to what life will look like post-Vale. “I came to Vale straight out of high school,” he recalled. “And it’s given me a lot. I was born and raised here so it would be nice to see and experience other places.” Guido has worked with Vale for 32 years now, following in the footsteps of his father who immigrated from Portugal years ago, and with one daughter studying to be a doctor and another dreaming of being a lawyer, odds are slim that his children will join him at Vale. 

“They were pretty sure early on about what they wanted to do,” he said. “They’ve chosen their paths and I’m excited to see them run with it. Vale has afforded me a lot of opportunities, and when I’ll still have a few years to try new things. These kids and their schooling costs a lot so believe me, the scholarship helps!” 

Are you interested in applying for Vale’s Reserve Scholarship? Act fast: Deadline to apply for the scholarship is April 28. Click here for more details.   

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