Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

Students in engineering, medicine benefit from bursary

Wasim Hassan’s (Sc’68) journey to Queen’s University and on to an illustrious engineering career began in India, where he was born, continued in Pakistan, where his family fled after the partition of India, and culminated with his education in Canada. The stabilizing force behind his career path was his mother, so Mr. Hassan chose to honour her by establishing the Qamar Jehan Hassan Bursary to aid female students studying engineering or medicine.

“My mother grew up in a time and place where it was difficult for women to get an education, something she felt was so important,” says Mr. Hassan. “She suffered terribly during the partition of India and Pakistan, and I wanted to pay tribute to her.”

[Wasim Hassan]
Since 2002, 13 female students have received a bursary established by Wasim Hassan and his wife Helen. (Supplied photo)Caption

Mr. Hassan came to Queen’s in 1965, on the advice and encouragement of his sister-in-law who had recently completed her degree at Queen’s. He received an engineering degree at Queen’s and began a master’s degree in physics but chose instead to go into industry in order to pay off the mounting student loans. Having had his choices restricted by student loans is one of the motivations behind the bursary.

His first job after Queen’s was with Ontario Hydro where he stayed for 14 years. He then moved to the provincial Ministry of Energy, followed by a position with the Municipal Electric Association, until 2000. He retired at age 52 and became a consultant. During the 1990s, Mr. Hassan also served on the OMERS Board of Directors, an Order-in-Council appointment by the Ontario government, and was chairman of its Investment Committee.

In 1975, he married Helen, a PhD (Comparative Literature) candidate from the University of Toronto. They have three daughters, Alia, Aisha and Anisah. All three are Queen’s graduates as are a number of Mr. Hassan’s nieces and nephews. Thirteen family members have attended Queen’s, with at least one attending each year since 1984.

In “retirement”, the Hassans split their time between their homes in Oakville and in Cody, Wyoming, where they manage Helen’s family ranch.

Mr. Hassan speaks fondly of his time at Queen’s noting how much it has changed since he graduated in 1968.

“Leonard Hall didn’t allow women when I was there, now everything is co-ed,” he exclaims.

He believes, however, that the academic excellence that was expected of him remains a pillar of a Queen’s education.

The Qamar Jehan Hassan Bursary was established in May 2002 and is awarded on the basis of financial need to full-time female students in their third or fourth year of studies in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science or the School of Medicine. To date, 13 students have received the bursary.

Student assistance is a priority of the $500-million Initiative Campaign and to date, benefactors have given more than $70 million for this purpose.