The Don Balsom Scholarship Fund
The Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association (NLBIA) established the scholarship in 1997 to honor Donald M. Balsom, former Associate Director of Memorial University`s Continuing Studies Department and brain injury survivor. Valued at $500.00, it is awarded annually to an undergraduate student with brain injury in any year or field of study at Memorial University who has some volunteer experience with the NLBIA. In the event that no applications are received from students with brain injury the scholarship may be awarded to a student who has made significant contribution as a volunteer to the NLBIA. The Senate Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships and Financial Aid shall award the scholarship. In special circumstances, the scholarship may be held for more than one year.
One of the areas the NLBIA felt that they could make a difference is in the area of education, especially at college and post secondary levels. The population most at risk is male aged 15-24 years. These are the formative years from learning a trade or professional education and engaging in meaningful, lifelong relationships. Traditionally, those with traumatic brain injury are unable to access educational and vocational opportunities. Although the recovery process following a brain injury is slow and difficult and often is limited to relearning old strategies and learning new coping methods, it is not impossible to attain a college or university degree. The Association believes that education is the great equalizer to empower the student with brain injury to realize a future with financial and social independence.
Celebrating the life of Donald M. Balsom
Donald Balsom was born in St. John’s, NL but grew up in Clarenville. He attended Horward Regional High School. Don worked at a variety of jobs during university. One exciting job was working with the federal government during Canada’s Centennial year (1967) in charge of a traveling display show, which featured all the regions of Canada. Don was chosen for his interest and expertise in Newfoundland and History and found himself in charge of Newfoundland section of the display. Don was interviewed by the media at each stop. Another summer job found Don working for a large construction company in London, England where he worked at blueprint reproductions. Some of this work involved oil refineries located in Ireland and China. Other work included the Canadian National Railways Express Department, and still another job was working in Clarenville off loading timber from British Columbia.
The Don Balsom Scholarship Fund and Resource Library were named after Don to celebrate his life of triumph and courage in spite of adversity and setbacks. This is not rhetoric but reality. Don was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December 1984 and another in 1986. Both operations resulted in only partial removal of the tumor with little hope that he would survive. Don’s brain injury, resulting from the two surgeries and radiation, impacted his professional life as he attempted twice to go back to work. Don was at the time only 39 years of age, married with two lovely daughters, and the Associate Professor of Continuing Studies at Memorial University and a Professor of Adult Education. Typically what happens to most people with brain injury who go back to work, and which happened to Don, the encouragement and supports were not available to help Don adjust gradually to the rigors of work. Don had started work on his doctorate studies in 1983 and had completed Year 2 of his course in Toronto at summer school when he was diagnosed with the tumor. Undaunted, he registered for courses by computer in 1989 and finished two other courses at Memorial in 1990 and in 1992 completed all his courses for his thesis. Don has served as an example of what the human spirit can accomplish in spite of chronic fatigue, frustration and pain. He was active in volunteer activities and was a board member of several organizations and associations. Unfortunately, Don’s cancer returned and he passed away in 1998.
You can apply for the scholarship through ‘Scholarships and Bursaries’ at Memorial University www.mun.ca.
Those persons or businesses that wish to fund the Donald M. Balsom Scholarship Fund are asked to contact the office at 1-709-579-3070. All patrons of the fund will be celebrated on our webpage. Money from unexpected sources is earmarked for the Scholarship Fund.
Donations are gratefully accepted and are earmarked for the Scholarship Fund. These donations are held in guaranteed investment certificates until maturity and are used solely for the Scholarship fund.