President awards first Spīdola scholarships

The first two President’s Scholarships, supported by the Latvian sorority Spīdola and financed largely by donations from Latvian-Canadians in the Toronto area, have been awarded to two women in Latvia studying to be language and literature teachers.

Zane Lūse, a philology student at the University of Latvia, and Kristīne Lele, a philology student at the Rēzekne Higher Education Institution (Rēzeknes Augstskola), were presented the scholarships Feb. 1 in Rīga by President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, the president’s press office said.

The sorority, of which Vīķe-Freiberga is a member, initiated the scholarship last year to honor the president’s work in academics and in government. Vīķe-Freiberga retired in 1998 as a professor at the Université de Montréal, where she specialized in psychology and linguistics.

During a June benefit in the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre attended by the president, about CAD 60,000 was raised for the scholarship, according to the cultural center’s Web site.

The scholarship is administered by the Vītolu Fonds, begun in 2002 by Vilis and Marta Vītols, who repatriated to Latvia from Venezuela and began Māras banka (now owned by Finland’s Sampo Bank).

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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