Graduation Season 2020

Graduation has always been one of our favourite seasons at HEROS. Although it looked a little different this year, it doesn’t diminish how tremendously proud  we are of all of our HEROS and their dedication to their studies. Even though our grads were not able to walk across the stage with their peers and take part in cap throwing, our volunteers, program coordinators and all of us at HEROS love to see members of our HEROS family achieve their goals. It’s the special time of year where we can see how much our players have grown and to celebrate them moving onto a new chapter in their life.

Graduations offer us all an opportunity to reflect on our roots, celebrate our successes and treasure our friendships. We want to share three amazing stories of our past HEROS graduates and their progress in pursuit of higher education.

You may remember the story of Nick Wilson from previous Along the Boards articles or as a guest speaker at our inaugural Hockey in the Harbour. Nick was one of the first class of our Downtown Eastside (DTES) chapter and has demonstrated his commitment to our program over the past two decades. Nick overcame tremendous obstacles and was the first in his home to reach these milestones: graduate high school, graduate with an undergraduate degree from UBC and be accepted into the UBC Law program. This fall marks Nick’s final year of Law school and he plans to use his new skill set to help his community. Unfortunately, financial challenges put those plans in jeopardy.

Deaunte Nelson is a remarkable individual from our DTES chapter. She donates her time to the HEROS chapter as an Assistant Program Manager and to many other causes throughout the DTES. The remarkable thing is she has only just graduated from high school! Deaunte is the first in her family to graduate from high school and has applied to the UBC Education Aboriginal Studies program. Deaunte strives to be a positive role model for other young women and wants to equip herself with all the necessary tools to pursue her goal to become a community changer. She believes the key to success is strong female role models, “I plan to give back to the community where I grew up and work with boys and girls just like me and help them believe that anything and everything is possible.” Like Nick, Deaunte’s concerns have been focused on finances, “In order to get an education, you need IQ, EQ and money.” Deuante possesses the drive and the ability but lacks the necessary financial resources to see her dream become a reality.

At HEROS, as many of you already know, hockey skill development is just one part of our program and a catalyst for teaching the four HEROS values: Listening, Respect, Discipline and Having Fun. Ashley Smith is one of our exceptional HEROS who has shown a strength of spirit that matches her incredible athletic ability. Ashley is a member of our Edmonton chapter who in 2018-2019, attended Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and was the starting goalie for their hockey team. Ashely became a HEROS mentor in grade seven and despite her busy schedule, she continues to mentor at our newly formed Edmonton SuperHEROS chapter. Ashely’s dreams extend beyond the rink, “I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the community in a professional way and I truly believe in order to make a difference you have to be the difference.” Ashely has set her sights on Douglas College to pursue a degree in Criminology, but just like Nick and Deuante, the only hurdle to pursuing her dream was finances.

Face of Today + HEROS = Success

The financial barrier to pursue higher education is all too common for many young people. We are excited to announce that thanks to our long-time friends and partners at Face of Today, these three young adults will be able to continue their education journey: both Ashely and Deaunte will receive full four year scholarships for their education expenses at UBC and Douglas Collage. Nick will also receive funding for tuition and books for his final year of Law school. The generosity of Face of Today will help these three individuals gain the skills to make real positive change in this world. In conjunction with the scholarship commitment of over $60K Face of Today has committed $100K over 4 years to programming. That’s a total of $160K invested in our boys and girls. Face of Today truly believes in building a better community one child at a time.

Scoring goals, being the fastest skater or the best passer are all worthy achievements for our players, but what we get most excited about is seeing our HEROS take the life lessons learned at the rink and put them into practice in their everyday lives. Being an upstanding young adult and bringing positivity and light into the world to make real change are the real trophies at HEROS.

“With the help of HEROS and Face of Today I am able to gain happiness and satisfaction in achieving my potential.” – Nick Wilson



“Without the support from HEROS and Face of Today my blessings have been answered. With this financial commitment I plan to give back to the community where I grew up and work with boys and girls just like me and help them to believe that anything and everything is possible.” – Deaunte Nelson 



“I have been able to build relationships with HEROS and FOT and they treat me like family. Without the help and motivation of so many I wouldn’t be on this journey today.” – Ashely Smith

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