The university held its annual Changing Lives awards ceremony at the Ramada Inn recently. The casual meet-and-greet format groups donors and recipients together, giving donors the chance to see who their scholarship or bursary benefits and students the opportunity to say thanks.
“I hope that you get the chance to meet the student you’ve helped tonight,” said UFV executive director of advancement services Madeleine Hardin. “But if you don’t, just grab any student and chat… their stories are all wonderful.”
Hardin related how criminology student Nikki Dionne had wowed the crowd at a University Women’s Club meeting earlier that week by sharing her story of how a scholarship had helped her.
“It meant the difference between working 50 hours a week and 30 hours a week,” said Hardin. “Your gifts help our students in profound ways. We do change lives at UFV, and your generosity helps us to do so.”
President Mark Evered also addressed the gathering, saying that the support of community partners helped UFV evolve from the “college that could” to the “university that did.”
“I see passion, commitment, and talent in this room. I also see our future. Together we are truly changing lives and building communities.”
Two students illustrated how important the support of the university and its donors had been to them.
UFV basketball star Nicole Wierks of Chilliwack, who is majoring in biology, minoring in kinesiology, and hoping to attend medical school, recalled the “sticker shock” of finding out that one textbook could cost $200.
“It’s difficult to be successful without the support of people who want you to be,” she said. “Not just family and friends, but donors too. You are investing in the growth and betterment of our community, and removing financial burdens and barriers has a cascading effect on other parts of our lives. I was dancing in the kitchen when I found out about my scholarship. We send our heartfelt appreciation to our donors.”
Nik Venema, who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Business administration with an economics minor, is now enrolled in graduate studies. But, as he related at the ceremony, he almost didn’t make it through university.
“I had my choice of universities when I graduated high school and went off to one of the larger ones. But I tripped on the threshold, and was given a swift kick back out. UFV gave me a second chance. There will always be a place in my heart for this university and what it stands for. UFV has an amazing culture of being real. You’ll find real human beings here, with real problems, who find the courage to stand out on a limb and rise above them. It truly is the best university in Canada. Through your generosity, please know that you are deeply and profoundly changing lives, mine included.”
Satwinder Bains, the director of the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies and a key player in the fundraising campaign that launched the centre, spoke from the donor’s perspective.
“When we were fundraising for our centre, we knocked on doors the old-fashioned way with a theme of ‘higher education for a future generation.’ It was based on a dream, and our donors’ dream was that what they didn’t know, their children would know. While money talks, philanthropy has an echo.”