First-year design student was in complete disbelief after winning the York U free tuition contest

Haley Crespo celebrates her win

For Haley Crespo, York University was the place to go for design, so when she received a call earlier this summer to let her know that she had won the Open Your Mind First-Year Free Tuition Contest, she was in complete shock.

“I remember thinking that this was super crazy,” said the 18-year-old from Burlington, Ont. “I put the speaker phone on so that my mom could hear the call. She was sitting beside me and we were so excited. After I hung up the phone, we started jumping up and down and my dad came running down the hall to see what was happening.”

As the winner of the contest, Crespo received a credit worth $7,743 in first-year tuition fees from York University. “I’ve never won anything in my life, so this is pretty big,” said Crespo, who graduated from Assumption Catholic Secondary School in Burlington. “I saw the contest on the York University website when I was deciding on what program to take.”

Crespo was selected by random draw from more than 16,020 entries (an increase of 13,146 entries from the previous year), which were collected from Sept. 4, 2018, to March 30, 2019. Now a first-year student in the Bachelor of Design program in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), Crespo said the prize has brought her tremendous relief, as it will allow her to focus completely on her program assignments and studies.

She said she is excited to now be part of the University community and she loves both her program and residence life at Winters College. “The professors are so knowledgeable and encouraging and residence life is fantastic,” said Crespo. “I have made a lot of friends. Orientation was awesome and the residence community is very supportive – it is like a second home.”

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton presented the cheque to Haley during the York Day Welcome Ceremony, which took place at the Keele Campus on Sept. 3

York University was first on her list of universities, and while she applied to both Ryerson University and OCAD University as well, she said she had her heart set on the design program at York. Her decision to attend York was further confirmed when she received early admission during the AMPD Portfolio Day.

Crespo said that part of learning about the program was attending the Ontario Universities Fair and taking part in both the Fall and Spring Campus Days. “I was here a lot,” she said with a laugh, noting that the campus days and tours gave her everything she needed to know about the program and university life. “I was really impressed with the professors and the facilities,” she said, adding that a career in graphic design is something she has wanted since her first year of high school.

She hopes to eventually pursue a career in user experience design and aspires to run her own design firm, but for now her focus is on her studies and making the most of her time in university.

The Open Your Mind First-Year Free Tuition Contest returns at the end of September for another great year.