Donors ease the financial burden for graduate students

An appreciative group of York’s knowledge leaders, recipients of Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) and Ontario Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology (OGSST), had a chance to say "thank you" to the donors who, through the York University Foundation, helped make their scholarships possible, at a special luncheon held recently.

Graduate scholars at York University are exploring an incredible diversity of interests. The research of some of those at the luncheon ran the gamut from theoretical particle physics and atmospheric chemistry to business sustainability and social responsibility, conservation of the bumble bee and popular culture of early 20th-century Britain.

One recipient, York Faculty of Arts PhD student Christine Grandy, is approaching completion of her dissertation which examines popular films and bestselling novels in England in the 1920s and 1930s and relates them to socio-economic concerns of the time.

Right: Student Christine Grandy and donor John Welch

Throughout the early years of toil on her dissertation, she worked at the University bookstore part time during the school year and full time in the summer. "At the end of my third year, I was contemplating whether I could afford to continue in my studies. Receiving an OGS at that time made all the difference," says Grandy. After receiving the OGS in her fourth and fifth years, she gave up her bookstore employment and devoted herself entirely to her dissertation and teaching. "It also allowed me to make the most of two research trips to London and to present my findings at a conference in Newcastle, England." The award "has been incredibly meaningful to me," says Grandy.

John Welch, president of the St. George’s Society of Toronto, the oldest charity in Toronto (founded in 1834), was very happy to help support Grandy in her research. The society maintains four pillars of support: education, community service, health and culture. "We’re trying to support a graduate student whose field of study would have an English and Canadian connection," says Welch. The luncheon allowed him "to engage with the students, find out what they’re doing and to see the money in action."

Among the other donors present were Glenn Carter, also of the St. George’s Society of Toronto, Robert Nicol and Murray Paton of 407 ETR, Bob Sacco of the Canadian Italian Business & Professional Association of Toronto, and Eric Fredua-Kwarteng, representing the late Vernon Stong.

The Ontario government recognizes the importance of providing graduate students with additional support. For every $5,000 contributed by donors, the provincial government supplies an additional $10,000 to create a $15,000 scholarship.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, also in attendance, spoke of the priority York places on graduate studies and expressed a heartfelt thanks for the contributions of the donors.

Ron Pearlman, interim dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, called the OGS and OGSST awards "essential and a wonderful recognition of achievement, allowing our students to concentrate on their studies without the need for additional time spent in other roles, particularly paid employment." He expressed his deep gratitude to the donors and added, "These scholarships allow us to attract and retain a large number (now over 200) of Ontario’s brightest students, each of whom contributes significantly to the creation of an intellectually stimulating environment at the University and, in time, to our understanding of the world around us."

Submitted by David Wallace, communications & events intern, York University Foundation