Congratulations to our 2019 scholarship award recipients!

Richard Haskayne Scholarship

The Richard Haskayne Scholarship is for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  It is an annual scholarship of $2500 and is awarded to four eligible Albertans with ASD who are pursuing post-secondary education, training or vocation. Applicants for this scholarship must submit a 250 word essay on “how being a student with ASD has impacted their education,” as well as their post-secondary program plans, volunteer activities, special interests, and accomplishments.

This year’s awards go to Troy Kervin, Nolan Shannon, Lucas Heiskanen, and Theo Esche.


Four-Year Undergraduate Degree Program

Troy Kervin

Program: In the fall, 2019, Troy (age 18) will be attending the University of Alberta and entering the first year of a four-year program towards a Bachelor of Science with an Honors in Biochemistry

Activities, Interests & Accomplishments: Troy’s volunteer activities include Youth Central, AAFS, the Best Buddies program at school, and tutoring his peers in math.  He has excellent grades and he has received academic awards for math, physics and chemistry. He is passionate about quantum mechanics and astronomy

Future Goals: Eventually Troy aims to obtain a Doctorate in Biochemistry.  He has a particular interest in agricultural biochemistry.  He would love a job that contributes to a global transition from animal agriculture towards a more plant-dependent food system.


Nolan Shannon

Program: Nolan (age 18) will be attending his first year at Grant MacEwan University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts with a major in psychology. He will be playing on the USport University Men’s Volleyball Team.

Activities, Interests & Accomplishments: Nolan played club volleyball with the Calgary Canuck team and is a provincial medalist.  He volunteered with Youth with a Mission and mentored Grade 3 and 6 students who have learning differences.

Future Goals: Nolan states that he has benefited from the mentorship of some key teachers and coaches over the years who helped him recognize his strengths and overcome his challenges.  He would like to do that for other children in some future career.  He plans to explore his interests and options for a career during his undergraduate years.


Two-Year Certificate/Diploma Program

Lucas Heiskanen

Program: Lucas (age 19) will be entering his first year of open studies at Red Deer College and taking media studies courses.  He is taking steps towards a diploma in Media Studies and Professional Communication.

Activities, Interests & Accomplishments: Lucas is a Special Olympics athlete in swimming and softball (Provincial gold and silver medal winner). He completed the Transition Vocation Program at Red Deer College last year. Currently, he has part-time employment at the Jumbo Car Wash and as a member of the Street Team at the X and Kraze radio stations.

Future Goals: He aspires towards a future career with the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He would like to revolutionize the ways Canadians experience media communications.


One-Year Certificate Program

Theo Esche

Program: Theo (age 19) will be attending Mount Royal University to complete the Education Assistant (EA) program.  This program spans two terms and he plans to graduate in June, 2020.

Activities, Interests & Accomplishments: Theo’s volunteer experience includes assisting students at Foothills Academy 3 times/week. He managed a student club that raised money for a food bank program.  In addition, he helps his neighbors by cutting grass, shoveling walks and pet sitting.

Future Goals: Over the next school year, Theo will be completing two practicum placements at two different schools.  This will help him decide the type of roles that he is best suited for.  After graduation, he hopes to obtain employment as an EA and work with children in grades 3 to 8.



Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship

The Dr. Fraser Mustard Scholarship for “Advancing Knowledge in the Field of Autism Spectrum Disorders” is an annual scholarship of $5,000. It is awarded to an eligible Albertan pursuing a post-secondary academic program in a field that supports and furthers the knowledge and/or research of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Applicants for this scholarship must submit a 750 word essay outlining why they are interested in the field of autism and their research experience to date. As well, they must document their volunteer activities and accomplishments and include a copy of their transcripts.

This year’s award goes to Gabrielle Heselton.

Gabrielle Heselton

Program: In the fall 2019, Gabrielle will be entering her second year of a 3 year Master of Counselling Program at Athabasca University and she is completing the thesis route.  She has tailored her coursework to focus on autism and the mental health needs of individuals with ASD.

Planned Research:

  • It is significantly more common for Individuals with autism to experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) than neurotypical individuals.
  • Gabrielle’s research will study the lived experiences of autistic adults who have encountered ACEs and the resulting trauma.  She will identify resiliency factors that allow them to thrive despite these experiences.
  • This is a qualitative study; Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis
  • She will be obtaining ethics approval in the fall, 2019

Activities, Interests & Accomplishments: Prior to undertaking her Master’s program, Gabrielle was a special education teacher (M.Ed.) for 14 years, working primarily with students on the autism spectrum.  She has volunteered and been a board member for Autism Edmonton.  She has also volunteered at Belmead School in the autism program and at the Zebra Child Protection Centre and Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.  Gabrielle has worked as a research assistant with Dr. David Nicholas on various projects.  She has presented her autism-related work at several conferences and has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Gary MacPherson Leadership Scholarship and the Outstanding Distinction Award for her community involvement at Athabasca University.

Future Goals:

Gabrielle hopes to become a registered psychologist and work with children and adults with ASD and their families. Her focus will be on meeting their mental health needs.

While she would like to work in private practice, she would like to do this in conjunction with an ASD agency to make her services affordable to this population.

Eventually, she would like to obtain a PhD and expand on the existing research that supports teachers in working with children with ASD.

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