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Business grad turned trucking magnate launches award for inner-city scholars

January 31, 2019

Students entering three business and I.T. programs at Red River College now have the opportunity for their educations to be covered, thanks to a new award for inner-city scholars launched by trucking magnate Gary Coleman.

The president and CEO of Big Freight Systems Inc., Coleman graduated from RRC in 1981 with a diploma in business. He recently established the Gary Coleman Award for Inner-City Scholars to help students build successful careers of their own.

“This scholarship program is a way of saying thank-you and giving back to the community, because the community has been very kind to me over the years,” says Coleman (shown above, at centre).

“I’ve been very fortunate throughout my life. I grew up in a family with a mom and dad who taught us that if you worked hard, you end up achieving over time. I was also fortunate enough to go to college, get an education and then go into the family business. I had some big dreams for the family business and we’ve been successful in accomplishing many of them.”

Coleman’s award is now available to graduates of eight inner-city schools in Winnipeg who have been accepted into RRC’s Business Administration, Business Information Technology or Business Technology Management programs. The award will cover the costs of tuition, textbooks and expenses for two students in the 2019-2020 academic year, and will expand to cover four students in subsequent years.

“Red River College is honored that Mr. Coleman has made this commitment for young students to hone their skills in three of our business-based programs — free from the worry of financial barriers,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at left).

“It’s truly wonderful to see that Mr. Coleman, a proud graduate of our Business Administration program, has decided to give back and provide the same opportunities and education he received. These students will be receiving the highest level of hands-on training, and will make connections to get their foot in the door and take the steps necessary to become leaders in their careers.”

Coleman believes the education he received at RRC played a meaningful role in transforming Big Freight, — co-founded by his father Red Coleman and his grandfather George — from a small regional carrier into a company of 220 trucks and 500 trailers operating across Canada and the U.S.

“College taught me technical skills such as understanding economic concepts like supply and demand, finance and how to read a financial statement,” he says.

“But equally or even more important, I learned self-confidence. I also learned about the challenges in the business world, that there’s lots of competition, but working hard and staying focused on what you’re doing will help you move forward in your career and in life. We hope to help students who have ambition — who have a desire and drive to change their station in life — but are lacking one key component to do that: the financial resources for a college education.”

Learn more about awards, scholarships and bursaries at RRC.