Graduate scholarship recipients shake the hand that gives

“My life changed when I won the OGS award,” said Gregory Betts, a York graduate student in English. “This scholarship gives me more time to focus on my studies and follow my passion.”

Gregory BettsDebt is an unfortunate reality for many students pursuing a university education – particularly for those who go on to do graduate studies. With the high costs of tuition and living expenses, students often depend on the financial support received through scholarships which allows them to focus their undivided attention on their studies.

Left: Graduate student Gregory Betts

At a luncheon held April 7 at the Seymour Schulich building, York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies thanked those donors who assist York’s top graduate students, by contributing to the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science &Technology (OGSST) programs. The event was a great way for students to meet the donors who are helping to make their scholarships possible.

“This is a chance to connect students who care about what they are doing and donors who care about students,” said John Lennox, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Betts was gratified to represent many of the other OGS/OGSST recipients at the luncheon.

“It is my personal honour to thank the donors who have stepped forward and exhibited their commitment to education,” said Betts. “Funding university scholarships has never been more important than it is right now. My wife and I are both graduate students and to pay for our education in the past we have had to work nearly 40 hours per week.”

“When there is no donor contact, scholarship [recipients] sometimes feel like they are just affiliated with a name,” said OGS recipient Stefanie Morand, who is in her third year in the joint LLB/MBA program with a focus on corporate law and governance. “This is a welcome opportunity to thank donors in person and let them know how grateful we are for their support.”

 grad scholarship lunch group

Above: Members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the University administration and the York University Foundation together with scholarship recipients and donors at a luncheon held April 7

Lorna R. Marsden, York president and vice-chancellor, took delight in recognizing the outstanding work of so many of York’s top graduate students.

“Graduate students are at the centre of intellectual energy at York University and they go on to have brilliant careers,” Marsden said.

There are approximately 5,000 graduate students at York, many of whom are in similar positions to Betts and would prefer that education be their primary focus. To help alleviate the challenges faced by graduate students, the Ontario government created the OGS and the OGSST programs, which require the province to provide a 2:1 match on private donations. Through these programs, the government provides $10,000 for every $5,000 contributed by private benefactors.

Jason Gibbs and Ron PearlmanRon Pearlman, a biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, is a supporter of an OGSST scholarship and is pleased that he could contribute in a personal way.

Right: From left, graduate student Jason Gibbs chats with Ron Pearlman

“Scholarships are crucial to students being able to conduct their research without the distraction of part-time work,” said Pearlman. “It is certainly important that students have the opportunity to be teaching assistants but that should only be an aspect of their education not the means by which they support themselves.”

The lunch gave many OGS and OGSST recipients the opportunity to say thank you to donors for their assistance.

OGS supporter Doris H. Anderson, best noted for her pivotal role in bringing Chatelaine magazine to the forefront of Canadian publishing, was one of the OGS/OGSST supporters in attendance. The Doris Anderson Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Women’s Studies was created by friends to celebrate her 80th birthday. Also attending were Rod Robbie and Jamie Wright of the architecture firm Robbie, Young & Wright, Nick Simone of the Canadian Italian Business & Professional Association of Toronto and Albert Tucker, professor emeritus in Glendon’s Department of History.

“It is very meaningful for donors to have an opportunity to meet our talented students,” said Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation. “Their generosity is having a huge impact and making such an important difference in the lives of others.”

This article was submitted to YFile by Arlene Willis, communications intern with the York University Foundation.