A 23-year-old psychology student, who was awarded a Jewish Studies scholarship, has already seen the impact it has made on her life. Victoria Taylor received the 2023 Jewish Federation of Edmonton Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship is given to a student in Jewish Studies with an outstanding academic achievement.
As someone who handles her own finances, the scholarship has massively affected Victoria. The scholarship allowed Victoria to work fewer hours and focus on her studies more. This helped her do better in school, leading to more scholarship opportunities in the future. She said it was such a relief to receive this scholarship.
“I’m so grateful. It helps put me through school. The scholarship paid for around half of my semester. It was a tremendous help,” she says.
Victoria shared the importance of Jewish Studies as a non-Jewish person, and why it’s interesting to her. She stressed the need for representation of all cultures in academia, especially Judaism, which encourages academics. “At least in psychology, it’s interesting to see how most of the big thinkers were Jewish. From an outside perspective, it appears to be a culture that really encourages questioning and development of the mind,” she says.
Despite being outside of the Jewish community, Victoria has noticed an increase in antisemitism recently. She believes that the lack of Jewish representation and COVID-19 conspiracy theories have caused the increase in Alberta. She grew up in a predominantly Christian conservative town near Red Deer and said that Jewish people were often the first ones to blame in conspiracy theories.
“The world is a scary place right now; it requires less energy to blame a group of people for your problems. If we’re fighting against each other, then we are not looking to see what the real problem is,” says Victoria. Her experience at the University of Alberta campus is much less severe. According to her, educated students believe in fewer antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Although Victoria grew up in a town with limited worldviews, her parents did a great job exposing her to different cultures and perspectives. She can attribute some of her interest in Judaism to her parents.
“My parents tried to educate me about other cultures. Sometimes we would go to Sikh temples for food and celebrations. During Chanukah, we would read Chanukah story books and eat latkes. It was always important to my parents and led to many fun times,” adds Victoria.
Victoria looks forward to learning more about Judaism and other cultures throughout the rest of her studies, as she continues her journey to become a therapist.