Presley Lewis pictured with Peacock Hospitality owners Jeremiah and Marina Pauw. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Business owners surprise Fernie employee with scholarship

Presley Lewis will be using the $5000 to pursue a degree in Kinesiology

A surprise gift to a Fernie youth last week is proof that hard work does not go unnoticed.

Peacock Hospitality housekeeping employee Presley Lewis had found out that owners Jeremiah and Marina Pauw were planning on supporting his dream to pursue a degree in Kinesiology, but didn’t expect a gift of $5000.

The owners presented Lewis with the scholarship at a staff barbecue on August 26. This is the first time the Pauw’s have given out a post-secondary scholarship.

Jeremiah said Lewis is a hardworking individual who has always performed well in both his studies and working for them. Every year, the youth has made it to the honour roll. Even during school, Lewis worked two full-time jobs.

“It just felt right,” said Pauw. “We wanted to do something for him, he’s on his way to school and I know how tough it is especially going to university in Calgary and living there and how expensive it is,” said Pauw.

“He’s coming from a single-mother home, it’s a little bit tough for them so I thought we’d help out the best we could,” he said.

Presley moved to Canada with his mother and younger sister from Jamaica in 2015, and they have lived in Fernie for the past several years with the intent of allowing Presley to finish his secondary school education.

For years he has been saving for post-secondary. His fascination of the human body has driven him to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

“I’m fascinated by the human body, and I’m even more fascinated as to how much we can push the limitations of the human body, using science,” he said.

His fascination of the human body stems from his own athleticism. Asked if he was athletic, Lewis said, “I don’t mean to brag but… I am quite the gazelle.”

While at the Fernie Academy he performed on their volleyball team as well as on their track and field team, ski team, and also played soccer and tennis.

Lewis said he is extremely grateful to be supported by the Pauw’s.

“I have worked at other places… but no bosses come close to this couple. For every summer they have treated us more like a fellow-worker rather than being over top of you,” he said.

“I was surprised that a boss would do it (the scholarship) but like the degree of persons that these two are, it doesn’t surprise me at all because they have really good hearts.”

Although $5000 might not seem like a lot to some, Lewis said it means a lot to him and his family.

“It’s truly going to help,” he said. “I started preparing in grade 11. I was like; if I want to continue my (post secondary) education I’m going to have to work my butt off. Like, I was prepared to do that because I know that it’s hard on my mom and it’s hard for a single parent. So I have to play my part.

“But this scholarship certainly alleviates some of the financial burden,” he added.

Pauw said that when he found out Lewis had been saving for years, he was shocked.

“What high-school student does that?” asked Jeremiah. “He’s one of a kind,” added Marina.

“I don’t know how we would have gotten through the last four summers without him,” said Jeremiah.

Looking to the future, Lewis said he’s excited to start a new chapter in his life, discover what he’s good at and possibly discover other passions waiting to be unearthed.

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