Innah Gaspar was totally comfortable going on an advocacy mission to Nigeria, and perfectly capable of filling a shipping container with aid supplies, but when the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia was applauding her achievement Thursday, shyness came out.

In fact, she admitted to feeling a bit embarrassed about the attention.

Gaspar, 18, was one of 36 Nova Scotia high school students recognized with Excellence Awards from the Millennium Scholarship Foundation Thursday at the Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax.


The Dartmouth teen is one of only 100 students across the country to win the national level prize. Awards were also given out at the provincial and local level.

According to the Foundation’s website, the Excellence Award is given out on the basis of “academic merit, community involvement, leadership, and innovation.”

The time Gaspar spent advocating women’s rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and democracy in Nigeria is part of the reason why she’ll be taking a $25,000 scholarship with her to university next year.

Hearing Gaspar talk about the inspiration she got working in Nigeria clearly personifies the values Lieut. Governor Mayann Francis was applauding at the event.

“I have [had] the opportunities to meet Nova Scotians from each corner of the province,” Francis said. “I am constantly impressed by their depth of passion, sense of duty, and tremendous creativity.”

According to the Millennium Scholarship Foundation’s website, they have awarded 12,000 excellence awards worth nearly $50 million to students like Gaspar since 2000. For Gaspar, the difference it makes is more than just financial.

“It feels good that our country wants to support our leaders, wants to support our young people,” she said.

Gaspar is one of the final students to receive awards from the Millennium Foundation before its mandate expires in January 2010.

“I’m kinda glad I slipped in there,” she said with a laugh.

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