We are thrilled to announce the winner of this year’s Olga Cloke Bursary, Olivia Mancini!
Olivia is no stranger to YWCA Hamilton, having won this year’s Women of Distinction Award in the Hamilton Frontline Worker category for her work in housing, addiction, and harm reduction support. Now, she will receive $750 to put towards the next step in her educational journey.
“I was very excited to find out that I won,” said Olivia, who recently completed her bachelor’s degree in social work and will be entering the Masters of Social Work Critical Leaders Program at McMaster University this fall.
The Olga Cloke Bursary is awarded each year to a promising student to help fund her post-secondary education. Any young woman who is a resident of Hamilton, a current student, in financial need, and entering a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree program is eligible to apply.
Olivia is passionate about harm reduction, affordable housing, the right to housing, and trauma-informed care, and hopes to further cultivate the leadership skills she gained while completing her Bachelor’s degree. For her Master’s degree, she plans to pursue a project that helps people who use drugs navigate the healthcare system – a project that stems from her years of experience working in the homelessness and addiction sectors.
“I’ve just really notice how broken our social welfare system is, and how marginalized groups of people face a lot of barriers,” she said. “I feel inspired to make changes at a policy level, so that people experiencing homelessness have more equitable access to resources.”
Olivia’s passion for her community mirrors that of Olga Cloke, the bursary’s namesake. Before Olga’s death in 1974, she acted as chair of the YWCA Hamilton Building Campaign, and was a past District Commissioner of the Hamilton Girl Guides Association, and held leadership positions in the Zonta Club. The Olga Cloke Bursary was established by the Cloke Family in 1971 to celebrate Olga’s 75th birthday. After Olga’s passing, YWCA Hamilton established a fund with the Zonta Club of Hamilton 1 to continue her legacy.
For Olivia, the bursary will help her keep her focused on her studies, in the hopes of “creating some lasting social change.”
“The bursary will help reduce the impact of high tuition costs and allow me to focus more on my education rather than having to pay back the loans,” she said. “I’ll continue to push for social change in the community through my commitment and leadership, and through my research.”
Congratulations Olivia, and best wishes as you pursue your degree!