Students with disabilities may face many challenges when it comes to attending university, with financial burdens being one of the most significant. Because of the complexities that come with a disability, it can often take longer for students to complete a degree and they graduate with higher-than-average student debt.
That’s why one UBC Okanagan alum established the Perseverance Bursary—the only donor-funded bursary on the Okanagan campus specifically for students with disabilities. Every year, the donor founding donor—who chooses to remain anonymous—funds a $1,000 award given to one student. Last year, thanks in part to funds raised on Giving Day and a true display of collective impact, the number of students who received the bursary went from one to nine.
“It takes a lot of perseverance and dedication for students with disabilities to complete their degree programs,” says Dr. Earllene Roberts, Manager of the Disability Resource Centre at UBC Okanagan, which supports roughly 10 percent of the campus’ student population.
“I know the donor who created this bursary. She wanted to quit many times, but she never gave up, and I think that’s what this bursary embodies—that encouragement to keep going.”
The bursary is a perfect way for donors, alumni and friends to have a direct impact on students with disabilities. Each year, Giving Day funds go towards supporting more students in the future.
“Receiving this bursary was like an extra weight was lifted off my shoulders,” says a UBC Okanagan student recipient. “It has given me peace of mind and has allowed me to enjoy my university learning experience.”
Dr. Roberts says there is still much to be done when it comes to equity for students with disabilities, and this bursary is another step in the right direction.
“This award can truly make a difference in a students’ life, financially but also in terms of knowing people are rooting for them and wanting them to be successful,” says Dr. Roberts. “This is a powerful message to send, and giving to this bursary on Giving Day is a concrete way of supporting the disabled community.”