Faculty of Education celebrates alumnus’ life lost serving Canada

By Jamie Hanlon, University of Alberta, (Edmonton) November 10, 2010

This year, Remembrance Day will hold a bit more meaning for the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education. It will be the first one celebrated since the death of George Miok, a promising alumnus whose potential was extinguished while serving in Afghanistan last December.

However, a new scholarship bearing his name, the Sergeant George R. Miok Memorial Scholarship, ensures that his name and his passion for teaching will be remembered within the faculty in perpetuity. The faculty is now seeking qualified students in second to fourth years of study to apply for the first two $1,000 awards. Preference will be given to students with a military background (current or former member of the Canadian Forces—Regular or Primary Reserve—or immediate family member of a past or serving member). All applicants will be required to submit a brief essay on the impact the Canadian Forces has in helping to build a better world.

Neil Hayes, the faculty’s director of development, says that the Miok family, the driving force behind the scholarship, derive a sense of hope that their son—and his sacrifice—will never be forgotten, thanks to this award.

“George’s mom, Anna, finds some solace in the fact that his memory will live on forever,” said Hayes. “His name will live on through the university and through the lives of students that receive this award. They need to know why the scholarship happened and where it came from.”

Miok, who served with the 41 Combat Engineer Regiment, joined the military in 1998 while still in high school. He continued to serve while pursuing his education degree but took a break from his studies to voluntarily serve on a tour of duty of Bosnia in 2002. In 2006, one year after convocating with a degree in secondary education, he volunteered for his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. Miok was serving his second tour in Afghanistan when he, three other soldiers and a journalist were killed by an improvised explosive device. 

Hayes says a member of the Miok family quickly established the fund. Since then, donations have poured in from across Canada for the scholarship, including from the students and teachers of Parkland School Division and the Alberta Teachers’ Association. Hayes says Miok’s desire to make a difference and his desire to put the needs of others before his own is something that can live on through this legacy. 

“He was very big on the fact that Canada gave his family huge opportunities, so he wanted to give something back to Canada,” Hayes said. “I think he saw teaching, like his service in the military, as a service to the country. I think that he saw them as a way to give back.”

Education Dean Fern Snart says that, while the loss of an excellent teacher and leader is certainly felt within the faculty, keeping his legacy front of mind through the scholarship is a way to keep his love of teaching active within the faculty. She says the fund also gives Miok’s family a small piece of mind that their tribute to George will help other students. 

“Allowing other students to have some assistance and to perhaps think about (George) and his goals, which he personally was unable to achieve, may just build a sense of legacy in terms of the courage and commitment that he had,” said Snart. 

If you would like more information about the Sergeant George R. Miok Memorial Scholarship, please contact Neil Hayes at 780-492-3680 or neil.hayes@ualberta.ca.

Application process

Each applicant must submit a 500-word essay describing the impact the CF has had in building a better world. The two recipients for this award will be selected based on their demonstration, in the essay, of exceptional understanding of the crucial role the CF has in improving the nations in which it has served.

The student must send their essay, contact information and proof of military service to:

ATTN: George Miok Scholarship

External Relations Office
Faculty of Education
4-107 Education North
Edmonton, AB T6G 2G5

Email: Neil.hayes@ualberta.ca

Please include full name, student identification, address, phone number and e-mail address.

Note – the deadline for 2010 was the end of November. It is unknown whether this is going to be the deadline for future years.

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