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Breaking down barriers

“I lost my dream. My grief clouded everything.” Njillan Forbes (BSc ’17) was in her first year at Dal when she lost her mother—her biggest supporter—and it changed her life. She wasn’t sure how she would handle her grief, let alone pay for her education.

Njillan Forbes (BSc’17) says receiving the Slaight Family Foundation Scholarship for African Students “was a sign I needed to keep going.” (Danny Abriel photo)

But despair turned to hope when she received the Slaight Family Foundation Scholarship for African Students. “It was a sign that I was still on this journey and I needed to keep going,” says Forbes, who went on to graduate with an honors degree in earth sciences.

It’s not a stretch to say that students like Forbes can continue, or in some cases even pursue, an education because of the generosity of Dal donors. It helps to make university more inclusive and accessible for all.

Forward thinking

Much like Forbes, computer science student Aisha Gattous was also confronted with an issue that left her wondering if she could finish her second year at Dal. Neither her grades nor motivation were the issue—she didn’t know how she would pay for tuition and other associated costs of school. “I work two part-time jobs, so I had enough money saved for my first semester, but I was financially strapped for second semester.”

“When I found out I received this bursary, it energized me,” says computer science student Aisha Gattous, recipient of the Joyce Family Foundation Student Success Award. (Danny Abriel photo)

Before Gattous was forced to make a tough decision heading into winter term last year, she received news she was one of 12 Dalhousie students to receive The Joyce Family Foundation Student Success Award. The award is earmarked to help Nova Scotian students overcome socio-economic barriers by providing financial aid. “When I found out I had received this bursary it energized me and gave me a new sense of motivation. Knowing someone is supporting my education and future makes me want to do my best,” she says. “I’m confident it will help me stay on track and finish my degree on time and with high grades.”

Supporting dreams

The dream to study medicine was one that Jelisa Bradley (BSc’15) had throughout her undergraduate degree. So, when she found out she was accepted to medical school at Dal, although the associated costs were daunting, she was fully committed to turning her dream of becoming a doctor into a reality.

While she was hopeful she would get some form of financial aid, she was overwhelmed with gratitude when she received news she was awarded the Stewart E. Allen Bursary in Medicine. One of the largest awards in the Faculty of Medicine, it covers the cost of medical tuition and fees. The bursary stems from Mr. Allen’s deep desire to help students who face financial barriers that may prohibit them from following their dreams.

“The financial relief has been huge,” says medical student Jelisa Bradley (BSc’15), who received the Stewart E. Allen Bursary in Medicine. (Danny Abriel photo)

“I was shocked and overjoyed when I got the news,” she recalls. And it wasn’t until she completed her first year of medical school last spring that she truly processed the enormity. “Before I started med school I thought perhaps I could balance a part-time job, but I’ve realized that would be near impossible. The volume of work and the time commitment in both the classroom and clinical settings can be quite intense. The financial relief has been huge.

“My bursary has completely changed my med school experience and life. The impact was particularly top of mind last March during Wellness Week here at Dal. Students face a lot of stress, but this act of kindness has taken away a huge burden for me. What an incredible thing to do for students.”

With files from Alison DeLory