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SU awards Kettles full tuition

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University of Calgary student Brent Kettles will be able to afford gourmet mac'n'cheese next semester after winning the first Student Initiative Competition.

The Students' Union prized Kettles with a free semester of tuition at the first Student Initiative awards ceremony, Mon., Mar. 20.

Kettles won with his proposal for the creation of a student financial education and assistance office, where students can find a variety of financial services, ranging from budgeting and scholarships to crisis counselling.

"The idea is to have a full-time or part-time person on campus to give students financial information and advice, specifically putting on seminars about budgeting and credit counsel for people who are in credit-card trouble, as well as link various types of financial aid on campus together," said Kettles.

The competition asked participants to submit a proposal detailing an idea to improve the quality of the university experience for students. This is the first year the SU ran the competition, after taking over from university administration who previously held it under the title of the President's Challenge.

Mark Skovmose was also honoured. He won second place with his proposal for a system to increase access to campus clubs by putting registration for clubs online as well as integrating them with the Blackboard system.

Jason Bau, Steve Mills and Andrew Ah-Seng won third place for their proposal to expand the national "Let's Talk Science" program to engage high-school students. Barbara Kelly also received honourable mention for her idea to create an online mentorship program.

"I think that a lot of really great programs the university has came out of this program," said academic commissioner Shannon O'Connor, who spearheaded the effort. "There's a lot in the past, like the locker program the SU runs, which came out of the President's Challenge. It gives [students] a chance to express themselves and to put a lot of thought into an idea, as well as present it to administration and people who can really do something about it in a very direct way."

According to O'Connor, both the student financial education and assistance office proposed by Kettles and the clubs connection idea proposed by Skovmose will likely be adopted by administration.

"I have heard from administra-tion and from the SU for next year that we're really excited about the first- and second-place projects," said O'Connor. "We think that those are both really great programs and administration has expressed interest in working on them and implementing them, with hopes to maybe see them in the next year. That's something we can do fairly simply as a joint effort between the Students' Union and administration."

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