Two university students at opposite ends of the country are the winners of this year’s Belcarz-Zeidler Memorial Scholarships.

Stephanie Rufh, the daughter of Gord Rufh, a member of Local 30403 who works at the Victoria Times-Colonist, chose chemistry as the topic of her essay, which is also her field of study at her home-town university.

Rosamund Tutton, of Dartmouth, NS, the daughter of Canadian Media Guild member Michael Tutton, is an engineering student at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. Her essay argues that social justice derives from personal understanding in small group settings.

The $1,000 bursaries, established in 2010 in honour of union activists John Belcarz and Dan Zeidler, are intended to aid in the personal development and enrichment of those to whom they are granted. There were 26 applicants this year.

Here are excerpts from the winning essays:

Stephanie Rufh

“My course of study is incredibly important to me because it gives me a new perspective on the universe, it is a central science and the basis for all life and chemical systems… Everything is built of atoms and molecules, and so the study of chemistry is crucial to the understanding and analysis of nearly everything.”

“When anyone looks at the world … they see it macroscopically, only observing what is at the surface and on a visible scale. However, there are so many more layers to the universe than this. When I look at the world I see this big picture, but I also see waves, rates of change, mathematical models of systems, forces of attraction and repulsion, and so much more.”

“Every day I am exposed to new ideas and experiences that let me see the world differently and connect the dots between the many fields and disciplines of science. The growing amount of research and thus the impact that chemistry has on the sustainability of the world and its inhabitants fascinates me, and I am very excited to be a part of it.”

Rosy Tutton

“Social justice begins with the premise that each individual has the basic rights to achieve a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle. However, it can only be fulfilled when we fully value the qualities of fellow human beings through our relationships to them. … the first step towards such a society is often made through participation in small groups where we learn sharing, compassion and mutual respect for people with diverse gifts.”

“The criticism is sometimes raised that personal involvement in a social justice mission, whether it be a soup kitchen or food bank, is promoting a charity that excuses governments from properly funding the supports in needed community services. However, it is often from these environments that the advocates for changes to systems in our society emerge and support for policies that assist the poor and weak in society find their most passionate advocates.”

“To create noticeable change, individuals must share the desire for a common goal. Similar to building a bridge or putting up a school, a common good is understood, identified and created. Although the interest of every individual in the group may not be exactly the same, they can unite around such projects.”