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'Who doesn't want to contribute to someone else's success?'

Werklund School hosts event to celebrate dozens of scholarship recipients and the community that supports them
March 23, 2017
Hundreds of students, academic and support staff, donors and community members turned out to Celebrate Student Success and Community Support in the EEEL Building on Wednesday evening. Photos by Adrian Shellard, for the Werklund School of Education

Hundreds of students, academic and support staff, donors and community members turned out to Celebrate Student Success and Community Support in the EEEL building on Wednesday evening. Photos by Adrian Shellard, for the Werklund School of Education

Donor Mark Kosak, who established a scholarship in memory of his late wife, Kristin Bala-Kosak, with Werklund School Dean Dennis Sumara.

Donor Mark Kosak, who established a scholarship in memory of his late wife, Kristin Bala-Kosak, with Werklund School Dean Dennis Sumara. 

Werklund School Dean Dennis Sumara, right, with donor Frank Doucette and Frank's granddaughter Emily at the Celebration of Student Success and Community Support.

Werklund School Dean Dennis Sumara, right, with donor Frank Doucette and Frank's granddaughter Emily at the Celebration of Student Success and Community Support.

Each year, students across the University of Calgary campus are recognized for their scholarly work and their financial needs with a wide range of awards, medals, scholarships and bursaries. In some cases the awards are open to students from any faculty; others are exclusively available to specific groups of students.

While all will tell you they are honoured to be selected and know they will benefit from the financial aspects of their awards, they also say the recognition of their work, their community service, and their commitment to education is just as personally significant and important to them. In the Werklund School of Education, as with other faculties, hundreds of students have benefited over the years from the community support that makes these awards possible, through the commitment of individuals and organizations whose goal is to make a difference in the educational journeys of men and women.

On March 22, the Werklund School hosted a special event to recognize the students for their achievements, and the community that supports them. More than 150 people turned out for the evening celebration at the EEEL building.

“Today’s students not only strive to excel academically, but also to connect and contribute to the community around them,” says Dennis Sumara, dean of the Werklund School. "Unfortunately, financial constraints can sometimes stand in the way of what they are able to achieve. It’s thanks to our donors that financial concerns can be lessened and the obstacles to student success can be removed.”

Sumara says that’s all the more reason community support for students is key.

Each student benefits in different ways

Matthew Schaeffer, who is in his final year in the Werklund Bachelor of Education program, is specializing in secondary mathematics. He says the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Centennial Scholarship allowed him to complete his studies without student loans or debts, and that, in turn, has allowed him to focus on becoming a teacher.

But he says being selected for an award means more than financial security. “It is a great feeling to be recognized for hard work and achievements. It’s also a humbling experience to be selected for a scholarship, knowing how hard-working and accomplished my peers are as well.”

Theresa Jubenville, a third-year PhD candidate in counselling psychology, whose research focus is to find ways to help improve the quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), says receiving the W.R. Unruh Scholarship has allowed her the financial freedom to become fully immersed in her studies. “I can devote my time and resources to cultivating research in an area that I am personally and professionally passionate about.

“This scholarship not only affords me financial support to pursue my research and career aspirations, but also acknowledges that others see the value of the work that I aspire to achieve.”

Donors benefit, too

Many of the donors who turned out to celebrate with the students and their families say they also find rewards in supporting the students.

Mark Kosak, who with his family established a bursary to celebrate his late wife, Kristin Bala-Kosak, says the opportunity to witness a student making progress toward their post-secondary goals validates the contribution and support that comes from an individual or organization. “There's a sense of satisfaction, as any charitable donor must feel, that we have used our personal resources, time, energy and financial success to assist someone else, in some small way, in pursuit of their own goals,” he explains.

“Who doesn't want to contribute to someone else's success?”