Two awards of $10,000 each, in STEM and the Arts, are distributed annually!

About the Opterus "Rebel with a Cause" scholarships

The annual Opterus "Rebel with a Cause" scholarships were established in the memories of Dr. Helen McKilligin and Valerie Ann Hawkins, the mother and sister of Janet Hawkins, founder of Opterus. 2020 marks the awards' second year, honouring women between 16-28 in the fields of STEM and the Arts. Applicants came in from around the world, and both winners will take home a $10,000 scholarship.

Opterus Helen Rose STEM Award

Robin Doucet won the Helen Rose STEM Award for 2020. She's mother to a young son and will pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Dalhousie University this year. "Being chosen as the winner of this scholarship, I still don’t fully believe it," she said. "It feels as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I will truly be able to focus on my studies and my son. I will forever be grateful for the wonderful gift."

Dr. Helen McKilligin worked to establish the first Family Planning Association of Newfoundland, opening a birth control centre, the first of its kind in the St. John's region. She worked on programs around reproduction for Ontario's Ministry of Health, and even earned a degree in fine arts from OCAD University after retirement. The Helen Rose STEM Award is dedicated to her memory.

Opterus Valerie Ann Arts Award

Reem (Karimeh) Mahmood won the 2020 Valerie Ann Arts Award. Reem, a women's rights activist in Syria, will study Gender and Women's Studies at York University. “This scholarship will transform my life, to move from a war survivor, scared feminist activist to an empowered woman who will use her privileges to help other women and enhance the feminist scene in her region," she said.

Valerie Ann was a performer on Broadway who graduated from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she earned the Lorne Greene Award for her achievements in theatre. She could act and direct, and took part in many productions on- and off-Broadway. She also loved rocking out with a local band in Stratford, Ontario. Valerie lost her five year battle with ovarian cancer in 2019. The Valerie Ann Arts Award is dedicated to her memory.

Opterus Inc. is a global provider of communications technology and expertise for retail enterprise, based in Toronto, Ontario. Opterus is deployed in over 45 countries, in 30 languages. Opterus is thrilled to support the annual Rebel with a Cause scholarship program. Learn more about Opterus.

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