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Why Give | Impact stories

How donors are opening the door to a thriving society

Ensuring that universities are diverse places is a vital step toward creating an inclusive society. Donors are helping make it possible—by breaking down barriers for talented students.

Ashki Shkur has dreamed of being a surgeon for as long as she can remember. But growing up in Iraq, she worried her dream would never come true.

In 2017, Ashki and her family arrived in Canada, seeking asylum and the chance of a new life. Six years later—with the help of donors through the Centennial Scholars Entrance Award—Ashki is now at the end of her first year at UBC as science student.

“Winning this award has literally changed my life,” says Ashki. “I’ll be the first person in my family to go to university. Both my parents dropped out in grade six because of having to work and because of gender-based persecution. So now, it’s amazing to see them so excited for me.”

Ashki’s story highlights the crucial role that donors can play in breaking down systemic barriers to education. UBC is home to many students from diverse backgrounds, each with a unique story of perseverance. They have all the talent needed to succeed at UBC but, without donor support, many of them would not be here.

The Diane Hales Award in Pharmaceutical Sciences for Indigenous Students helps recognize an important need in healthcare. With an increasing demand for Indigenous pharmacists to provide care for Indigenous peoples and their communities, this award supports First Nations, Inuit, and Métis undergraduate students in pursuing their pharmacy education.

Brett LaBossiere PharmD’22, a recipient of the award, looks forward to it opening doors for aspiring Indigenous pharmacy students.

“I am excited this award has been established to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students,” he says. “With my experiences living and working in and around Williams Lake, it is apparent that inter-generational trauma exists and creates barriers for some Indigenous students. I hope this award can help students overcome these barriers and promote leadership within the pharmacy community.”

For Nonye Ngwaba, recipient of the St. Pierre, Romilly, Nathanson Entrance Award in Law for Black Students, donors have helped ensure she sees people like her represented at UBC. Her advice to prospective Black law students is to prioritize “personal interest, passion, and your wellbeing” and that seeking a supportive community is crucial for overcoming the pressures and challenges of the field.

“There is an incredibly supportive network of Black legal professionals rooting for you and championing your success.”

Ahmed Masood’s story highlights education’s transformative power and the impact donors can make on individuals’ lives. He faced many challenges growing up in a low-income family, and recalls how receiving the UBC Centennial Scholars Award “changed my life forever.”

“As soon as I heard the news, my fears, worries, and anxieties disappeared,” says Ahmed. “My dreams were coming true!”

Societies with diverse perspectives are better equipped to make decisions that shape a brighter future. By supporting students like Ashki, Brett, Nonye and Ahmed you are helping to create a thriving society.

For Nonye Ngwaba, a weight is off her shoulders, “This scholarship for me is a relief, it’s a burden lifted, and it’s affirmation that I can do this.”

“Real change is happening because of donors,” confirms Ahmed Masood. “It’s not just alleviating someone’s family from financial burden—it’s the fact that people can go to university who otherwise would not have.”

Together with our donors, UBC is committed to shaping thriving societies.
Find out more about FORWARD, the campaign for UBC—and how you can help.