Jeff Baggs, a Grade 12 student at Bishops College in St. John's,
has won the Canadian Merit Scholarship. The Garfield Weston Award
includes full tuition, residence, and incidental costs towards
an undergraduate degree at any Canadian University. This prestigious
award is worth a total of up to $45,000. Jeff sat down with a
SNN reporter recently to talk about his success.
SNN: Can you give us a little background information
Jeff Baggs: I'm a level 3 student at Bishops College,
and I do a lot of public speaking, I work in theatre and music.
I like to stage-manage, and to produce shows; that's one of the
things I do a lot of. I like to read, and write. Don't like the
arithmetic so much <laugh>...and I'm a Newfoundlander.
SNN: Did you apply for this scholarship. How did you
get involved in the CMSF?
J.B: I was actually presented with an application form,
back earlier on in the Fall. Usually each June the Guidance Counselor
will pick out several people who they believe to be able to handle
the pressure. At first I wasn't considered, but I received the
application after, and decided to fill it out, not expecting
anything to come of it.
SNN: The CMSF consists of a couple of days of intensive
interviews. What do those interviews consist of?
J.B: They take your application, and there are a certain
number of provincial finalists. 10 of us. We had a day of interviews
with teachers and university professors, who wanted to get a
feel for who we were, and what we were interested in. Myself
and Cathleen Simmons were selected to go Toronto for national
interviews. Four over two days. Those were pretty much the same
thing, except there were more people there, and a bit more stressful.
It was still a lot of fun, though.
SNN: What did they ask you?
J.B: They really look for academics. They look for
the numbers. They don't always examine everything else that makes
up who we are as people. This is what the CMSfF does; they focus
primarily on what your ambitions are, what particular qualities
you possess. They look for leadership and...maybe a particular
streak of Madness. They must of seen I was a little bit cracked.
SNN: Did the public speaking you did at the Ravenscourt
speak-offs help in preparing you for the CMSF interviews?
J.B: I think that having the public speaking background
really did help me, and having the ability of articulate what
you're thinking and carry yourself really helps.
SNN: What do you think gave you the edge over the other
contestants? What do you think the committee was looking for?
J.B: I don't know if you'd really call it an edge. In
Toronto it was really hard to tell what was going to happen.
There were people from all across the country, and we'd all just
met each other. We didn't know what each person had done. It
was a sort of strange, but when you get into that type of situation,
the ways people react under pressure is really amazing. Some
people become very nervous, while others chronically complain,
which crosses them off the list automatically. I just didn't
let the pressure of the situation get to me.
talks about the
I basically said to myself that there were "a bunch of people
here who want to talk to me." I think that a lot of people
built themselves up for almost an interrogation, and what they
must realize is that that's not what the CMSF is looking for.
I think being about to establish a comfortable mood in the interview
SNN: How did you prepare yourself?
J.B: Well, about two weeks prior to the interviews
our mid-year exams started. I had more exams than usual; about
six or seven, and so that was kind of stressful. I had a few
days off at the end of the exam schedule, and on the last day
I was on a plane to Winnipeg. I was there for five days; a really
rigorous tournament out there. I came home on day five of that
trip and stayed for about a day and a half. From that point I
went to Toronto, so I never really had the chance to prepare,
other than get used to the fact that I'd be running around an
SNN: How long have you been involved in public speaking?
J.B: Well, I've done a lot of work in drama, stage
management and acting. In regards to actual public speaking,
I got involved in Junior High. I just felt that it was a great
vehicle for being able to speak out about things I believe in;
to persuade people and to convince people about my views. It's
something that I really enjoy.
SNN: How does it feel to have accomplished what you
J.B: There's been a lot of people saying "You
must be really proud of yourself" and "It must be a
tremendous weight off your shoulders with the scholarship",
but the way I look at it is there's going to be so much more
from here on in, and I won't be doing a lot of sleeping I don't
SNN: What are you planning to do?
J.B: I'm going to the University of King's College
in Halifax in the fall to do a foundation year program which
will lead to an Arts Degree of some kind.
SNN: Do you have any words for people who are planning
on getting involved in the CMSF?
J.B: They are a fabulous group of people. The executive
director is someone who will answer her own phone, and ask how
you've been. It's great. They really want to know who you are
as a person. So if you want to get involved, don't worry about
your marks too much. Just fill out the application and something
really good may come of it.