Fourth year student Taylor Kiryluik (History & Classics) has been a dancer since she was three years old. But it wasn’t until she won the 2013/2014 Doris Schuh Award in Western Canadian History that she began thinking of herself as an academic.
“Being so involved in dance my whole life, I never really took education as serious as the next person,” says Kiryluik, who started crying in class when she read the email notifying her about the award. “I was so honoured and proud of myself.”
The accomplishment was especially meaningful since history professor David Mills, one of the many history teachers in Arts who kindled Kiryluik’s passion for the subject, nominated her for the award without her knowledge. “He’s fantastic and I can’t express enough gratitude towards him.”
She is also especially grateful towards Doris Schuh, the eponymous donor whose desire to help students and passion for history made Kiryluik’s scholarship possible. The Doris Schuh Award in Western Canadian History is given annually to a student with satisfactory academic standing who has an interest in Western Canadian history.
Kiryluik says the scholarship was a welcome relief from the financial stress that students can face. The award covered her tuition for a semester, enabling her to focus entirely on her studies, free from the financial worries of previous years.
In addition to the financial benefits, the scholarship also helped her feel empowered about her education and motivated her to constantly improve herself as a student. “It really helped me realize how important education was to me,” says Kiryluik. “It made me feel like I’d been doing something right in the world.”
Confidence and empowerment also motivate Kiryluik as a dancer. She is an active member of BBM, a local all-female dance company founded by fellow Arts student Sarah Dharshi that “competes, teaches and preaches” about the strength and importance of females in the Edmonton dance community. The group also holds outreach classes for young dancers focused on building confidence and self-esteem.
Like the teachers that fostered her love for history, Kiryluik is dedicated to passing on her own passion to students and is now a dance teacher at a local studio. She acknowledges that her body will only allow her to teach and dance for so long, but she wants to contribute to young dancers and to the dance community for as many years as possible.
However, Kiryluik knows she will always have her passion for history to fall back on, regardless of what happens. Winning the scholarship made her realize that she has always been drawn to the intersect between history and dance. She recalls performing a multiple-award-winning contemporary Marie Antoinette dance piece at competitions, and she also wrote one of her final term papers on the history of dance competitions in Canada. “The combination of [history and dance], that’s me in a nutshell,” Kiryliuk says with a laugh.