April 25, 2019

Give today and celebrate the causes you care about

Your gift to UCalgary makes a huge difference. Discover how scholarships impacted these five students and our greater community

Author

Deb Cummings, Development and Alumni Engagement

University of Calgary student Ella Charpentier received the Métis Scholars Undergraduate Award.

University of Calgary student Ella Charpentier received the Métis Scholars Undergraduate Award.

Ella Charpentier

Today, for only 24 hours, the University of Calgary celebrates its third annual Giving Day. Aiming to smash last year’s $950,000 record, this digital fundraiser demonstrates the true meaning of #UCalgaryProud.

Participants from around the world are invited to support student scholarships, academic facilities, research, learning spaces, causes and more. To promote this year’s theme, Our Work is Complex, Giving is Easy, the campaign called upon faculty and researchers to explain their complex careers to family members and friends.

But students and new grads also face complex assignments every day. We asked five of them to share their “survival” moments and how receiving assistance in the form of a scholarship or bursary helped.

Ella Charpentier, 19, is a second-year student in UCalgary’s Actuarial Science program who received the generous Métis Scholars Undergraduate Award last year. “I have been so lucky to receive this financial support that has assisted me not only with my degree, but also with funding for writing actuarial exams and attending actuarial conferences. This has helped me not only achieve my academic goals, but has also allowed me to advance in my professional career. I’ve actually received multiple co-op offers from different companies and will be working out east for the next eight months!”

The biggest challenge for Charpentier hasn’t quite happened. She explains that, in order to become a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, “you need to pass 12 exams, each of which is three hours long and requires at least 300 hours of studying. This means that, in the not-so-distant future, I will be studying for a minimum 3,600 hours, in addition to school and, eventually, work!”

Studying is complex. Giving is easy.

Andrew Woodil received the Werklund School of Education 50th Anniversary Academic Scholarship.

Andrew Woodil received the Werklund School of Education 50th Anniversary Academic Scholarship.

Andrew Woodil

Andrew Woodill, BEdP’18, is not your typical recent grad. He has a family to support and, in his 40s, decided to return to school to become a teacher. Now 44, after graduating from the Werklund School of Education last year, he’s found work as a substitute teacher, “every single day ... and I love it.”

The recipient of the Werklund School of Education 50th Anniversary Academic Scholarship says, “Philanthropy is important as it creates a belief and support for others to be able to pursue their dreams. It provides the recipient with the knowledge that others care and inspires the recipient to continue the giving cycle — to keep the giving going and share the benevolence with others. I look forward to giving back to another, some day, with financial academic support; until then, I will continue to do my best for students that I teach with and help them to navigate through both their school and life-learning processes.”

When Woodill was a second-year student, his family began to feel the financial pinch that full-time studies can cause — especially when the student is the primary breadwinner. “There was a moment when I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my tuition and so I asked for assistance and, two hours later, I was notified via an email of this award,” he says.

“I was overwhelmed by the generosity and vow to someday give back to another to help them to begin a career as a teacher,” says Woodill.

Supporting a family while studying is complex. Giving is easy.

Margot Baker benefited from the Elizabeth and James McKenzie Andrews Bursary.

Margot Baker benefited from the Elizabeth and James McKenzie Andrews Bursary.

Margot Baker

Currently completing the last semester of an education degree, Margot Baker was terrified when she returned to school as a 38-year-old, recently divorced, single mother of two young children who hadn’t stuck her head in a classroom in a decade. Hoping to be a fine-arts teacher or to work with a foundation that focuses on Indigenous students or those in a minority population, Baker isn’t convinced she could have managed this last semester without the safety net that the Elizabeth and James McKenzie Andrews Bursary provided.

Sometimes life just gets expensive in unexpected ways. Combining a $2,500 bill for her son’s educational assessment with $1,000 in medication and hospital bills (Baker was knocked flat with a critical case of pneumonia) left Baker highly stressed and, frankly, scared of not completing her degree. The cushion this bursary provided also allowed her to take an extra course in her final semester that focused on learning disabilities for educators.

“This course makes me both more hireable and helps me to better understand how I might assist my own son,” she says. “Sometimes, philanthropy feels like an act of love,” Baker says. “For me, it was life-changing ... maybe lifesaving.”

Managing life’s surprise expenses is complex. Giving is easy.

Taylor Wong was helped by two major scholarships: the Senator Stan Waters Memorial and Stephanie Saul Memorial.

Taylor Wong received two scholarships: the Senator Stan Waters Memorial and Stephanie Saul Memorial.

Taylor Wong

Taylor Wong, 20, is on track to graduate from the Schulich School of Engineering in 2021. Although she describes electrical engineering as the “most challenging and fulfilling milestone” in her life, it’s really the tight community of supportive students that she values most.

Philanthropy, in the form of two major scholarships — the Senator Stan Waters Memorial and Stephanie Saul Memorial — helped Wong to remain engaged in the university community, especially when her focus is how best to boost the number of women in engineering.

As president of the campus chapter of Women in Science and Engineering, one of Wong’s biggest challenges is trying to determine how much time she should invest in different opportunities on campus, versus her academics. “I have found that engaging in a select few extracurriculars that I am passionate about has been the most fulfilling part of my university experience,” she says. “I love meeting and bonding with people over shared passions and seeing how hard work can translate into a positive contribution to the community. Being able to make a meaningful difference in the community makes the time investment and stress worthwhile and fulfilling.”

Juggling priorities is complex. Giving is easy.

Marissa Clapson is grateful for the NOVA Chemicals Graduate Researcher Scholarship.

Marissa Clapson is grateful for the NOVA Chemicals Graduate Researcher Scholarship.

Marissa Clapson

With her sights set on graduating in 2021, this second-year PhD candidate in chemistry (with a focus on organometallic chemistry) says receiving the NOVA Chemicals Graduate Researcher Scholarship was a very welcome endorsement.

“It makes me feel that NOVA is on my side,” says Marissa Clapson. “Receiving the scholarship has reinforced my capabilities as a researcher and given me the opportunity to focus in on my teaching and research — it has even afforded me the ability to attend national chemistry conferences.”

When asked to explain something complex about her research with PCP carbenes, here’s what Clapson wrote:

“PCP refers to the framework (or ligand) around the metal and is linked to the metal in three places; through two phosphorous atoms (P) and through a central carbon atom (C). In this sense, the ligand holds on to the metal similar to large crab claws. The ‘carbene’ portion refers to the type of bond formed between the central carbon atom and the metal centre. These bonds are super-reactive, which is great if you are wanting to activate small molecules like hydrogen or carbon dioxide. But, it also means that the complexes themselves are typically not stable in air!

“A lot of my chemistry is performed under an inert atmosphere or using high vacuum lines. It is super-important to not let air into the system. Now here is the problem: I am working with cobalt as my metal centre. Cobalt is a tricky metal because it is paramagnetic in most oxidation states. This means that a large majority of the really helpful characterization techniques that we can use with diamagnetic systems (NMR), I cannot use. So, when I am working with my complexes, I always deal with the problem of, ‘Did my reaction do what I wanted it to do, or did I accidentally get air into the flask?’ There is no truer annoyance than taking two weeks to make something, characterize it and find out that you accidentally let air in.”

Organometallic chemistry is complex. Giving is easy.