A special way to say ‘thanks for caring’

For many students, people they don’t know and may never meet have made a crucial difference in their lives.

Red & White Thank You Night is an opportunity for students and members of the York community to rectify the situation by explaining the impact of donor support for bursaries, scholarships and awards. On May 14, faculty, staff, students, parents and friends gathered for this special evening in the Bennett Centre for Student Services to hear stories of student success.

Right: Colin Harker (left) of TD Insurance Meloche Monnex chats with bursary recipient Jamie Giannou

York undergraduate student Christine Doucet described her experiences working with New York City children living in homeless shelters. She was so inspired by their spirit in the face of hardship that she became committed to working towards positive social change and enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work Program at York. Last summer, Doucet volunteered with a human rights organization in Ghana where she witnessed extreme poverty. She realized that human rights laws and policies are only effective if people know they exist. This experience solidified her commitment to social justice and she will now pursue a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School so that she can work in the human rights field and continue to follow her dream and make a difference.

Left: Christine Doucet (centre) with her parents Michael and Natalie

Doucet thanked the crowd: “With your continued support, generosity and dedication, students past, present and future will be able to continue to find their passion, dream big and succeed.”

“York students are without a doubt York’s greatest asset and the future leaders of Canada,” said Vice-President Students Rob Tiffin. He stressed the importance of scholarships, bursaries and awards – especially in 2009 with an extended school year and economic downturn. To help students during this period, one friend of the University has given $2.5 million to create 500 undergraduate entrance scholarships of $5,000 over the next two years.

Right: Winters College Council members Nomusa Taylor-Dube, Stephanie Law and Alex Mancini joke with VP, Students Rob Tiffin

Additionally, the University has introduced the 50th Anniversary Bursaries & Awards program to support returning York undergraduate students. With a $50,000 gift, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has led the way for alumni, faculty, staff and retirees who are giving to the program. Until December 31, anyone giving to this program will see their contribution doubled thanks to another friend of the University who has offered to match pledges.

Sandra Levy (BA Hons. ’90, LLB ’95), an accomplished York alumna and athlete, discussed her experiences completing an honours undergraduate degree and law degree while periodically being interrupted to compete in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. In total, she spent 11 years at York. “I was always touched and grateful for the generosity of folks like you who give time and money to ensure the legacy of York is preserved and simply to help students who need and deserve it,” she said. Levy has returned others’ kindness by creating an annual scholarship in honour of her field hockey coach and continues to be involved with York in many capacities, including as a member of the Board of Governors and the 50 to the Power of 50 Group, representing many of York’s most accomplished alumni.

Right: Sandra Levy addresses the crowd

Helping students excel through scholarships, bursaries and awards is a University priority collectively known as Transform50 within York to the Power of 50. York’s University’s 50th anniversary fundraising campaign has secured more than $185 million in pledges toward its $200-million goal.

For more information, visit York University Foundation Web site.