“Queen’s was an important part of our family. My mother and I wanted to do something useful with our money, and creating a bursary for Queen’s Engineering students was a logical choice.”
I don’t come from a lot of money, and financial aid helped to get me here and also to alleviate some stress once I was here. It let me focus on things that are important.
One thing I know from my career is that success is just as much about connections as it is about skills and knowledge.
Queen’s was an important part of our family. My mother and I wanted to do something useful with our money, and creating a bursary for Queen’s Engineering students was a logical choice.
I started off this heartbroken little kid in a rundown house, and 10 years later I’m at Queen’s discovering my passion.
I took a different route to university than most people do. I grew up firmly rooted in the hockey community. I played in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals and the London Knights.
After I finished my OHL career, I was adamant that I was going to keep playing hockey. I was going to look for a professional contract. But then it became apparent that that was not the right choice for me, so I had to shift gears.
I didn’t really know what I wanted, but when Coach Gibson called me, I made a decision that if I was going to go to school, I would go to the best school, and that’s how I ended up at Queen’s.
When I left hockey, there were five players who had taken their own lives. There are a lot of mental health issues in hockey. I knew I wanted to be an advocate and address them. I didn’t know if I was going to do that through a medical career or a legal career. I toyed with both. After my first year, I realized I was more drawn to the legal side of things.
With a medical degree, I would have been treating people who are already in trouble. What I want to do is protect the people I know who are in trouble and prevent them from getting in more trouble.
I think you can do that as a lawyer. You can address issues through contracts. You can put procedures and safeguards in place. You can have more clout and influence negotiations.
Being in law school at Queen’s helped me figure out how to address these problems. I’ve learned how to advocate for groups of people, how to use language to protect people.
Receiving financial assistance was important for me. I don’t come from a lot of money, and financial aid helped to get me here and also to alleviate some stress once I was here. It let me focus on things that are important, as opposed to more urgent, things that are more conducive to me bettering myself. I have never lost sight of how fortunate I am to have received it.
Financial aid has put me in a position where I can be a donor myself one day. I want to help remove the barriers that are preventing people from coming here. I believe that money should never be a roadblock to education. I am a testament to that.
I’m a first-generation university student. I grew up in Eastern Ontario, in Bancroft.
In Grade 11, I learned about the Wasmund Family Memorial Scholar Award. It’s a scholarship to Queen’s for people from four rural schools in Ontario. Dr. Bert Wasmund is originally from that area and he wanted to support students who had financial need. I was lucky enough to have been chosen to receive it. That’s how I ended up at Queen’s.
Queen’s became my steppingstone. It was the bridge between my life in Bancroft and the future I knew I could have.
I studied economics, which I loved. It prepared me to go to graduate school. That’s the great thing about getting an education — getting in the door, figuring out what’s out there. After grad school, I started a career in research. I worked at Deloitte, and now I’m working at MaRS Discovery District.
We’re the largest innovation hub in North America. We support over 1,200 tech ventures in Toronto and we help them grow and innovate. I’m the manager in charge of talent development. Pretty soon every company is going to be a tech company, and if they’re not, they’re not going to exist. We want to help people find the connections and the information and skills to succeed in this new world.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be an accountant. I had no idea what a think tank was, but I’ve spent the majority of my career in think tanks, and I’ve loved it. And I owe it all to Dr. Wasmund. Definitely the financial aid helped. It covered my tuition every year. But what was even more useful was the connection I had with Dr. Wasmund and his scholars’ network, which is a network of people from the Bancroft area. He essentially built his own alumni community.
My husband also went to Queen’s. I didn’t know him there. We met after graduation through Queen’s friends. So I suppose I even owe that to Dr. Wasmund.
I try to give some of it back. I’m a donor. I started giving to Queen’s as soon as I graduated. I know how important it is — certainly for first-generation students — to go to university and have access to those networks. One thing I know from my career is that success is increasingly less about skills and knowledge and more about having those connections. Getting access to the network can change your life.
Queen’s is part of my family’s history. My two uncles, who I was quite close to, who were graduates. My grandfather went to Queen’s as well. It was part of the fabric of our family.
I always knew I wanted to be an engineer. I considered other universities, but Queen’s was the place to go for engineering, so I went to Queen’s.
I was living in residence for my first two years, and late in my second year I realized that I was running low on money. I would be completely out of money by the end of the school year. I went to the Student Awards Office and asked them if I could get some financial help. They came back to me with $125 from the Atkinson Charitable Foundation. I was going to be destitute and it was weighing on my mind a lot. And that $125 made me feel free again. It let me concentrate on what I was supposed to be there for.
After graduation, I worked in the telecommunications industry. I got that job because of my Queen’s connections. A professor of mine recommended me to a friend of his. That’s the only time Queen’s came up in my career, but it was right when I needed it the most.
I still think about that $125 and what a difference it made in my life. And so I decided to make a gift to Queen’s.
My family is very small. There’s only me left now. But in 2015, when I started thinking about this, my mother was also alive. We were revising our wills and talking about what we were going to do. There was no one to leave money to apart from one another, so I suggested we give it to Queen’s. My mother died the year before the bursary was set up, but if she was still alive, she would have appreciated it.
We wanted to do something useful with the money, and Queen’s was a logical choice. It was logical for me because of my experience and it was logical for her because her two brothers went there.
The bursary is directed toward undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. It’s solely based on financial need. I go back to being a second-year Engineering student. That $125 made all the difference in the world for me. I want to do the same thing for someone else.
Looking back at it, I don’t know how I ended up at Queen’s. I was just really lucky.
I’m one of six kids. My father walked out on us when I was nine. We were stuck in a house in the middle of nowhere with no heat and we had to melt snow for water. We were on welfare and we used food banks, and we couldn’t afford indoor shoes.
In high school, the guidance counsellor said my grades were good enough to go to university, so I picked a few at random. No one in my family had gone to university. When I got Queen’s, I decided I would major in English because I loved books so much.
When I was in first year, I stumbled across the Facebook page for the Queen’s Journal. I wondered if I could do it – I wondered sometimes if I belonged at Queen’s at all – but I made myself volunteer, and they liked what I wrote. Those little morsels of encouragement inspired me, and I wrote more and more. I also started to take creative writing classes with Carolyn Smart.
This year I’m the Journal’s news editor. It’s a paid position, so it’s helping me make my own way. And I won the McIlquham Foundation Prize in English for a story I wrote for class last year.
I didn’t expect to win. Then I won the Helen Richards Campbell Memorial Scholarship for getting the top grade in creative writing. I also got to intern at the Kingston Whig-Standard last summer, and I really enjoyed that. For the first years here I depended on OSAP (there was no way my mum could ever pay), but now I am completely set up for money. What a change.
I started off this heartbroken little kid in a rundown house, and 10 years later I’m at Queen’s discovering my passion. I have a good job and I’m part of a great community of people. Without Queen’s, I have would not have found the Journal or started doing creative writing.
Next year, I would love to run for editor in chief of the Journal, but that’s an elected post so whether I get it isn’t up to me. After that, I’m really interested in doing social justice reporting. I want to tell the stories of impoverished people, people who grew in situations like mine. That’s what I’d love to get into.
I immigrated to Canada from South Korea about seven years ago now. I come from a single-parent family and my dad’s been the only person supporting me. He had a hard time after we came here, and now he’s in Pakistan. So I am here in Canada all on my own.
The reason I came to Queen’s was to study quantum mechanics and I am currently enrolled in Engineering Physics specializing in computing. I am the first person in my family to go to a proper university. That’s very exciting for my dad and all my family back in Korea.
Queen’s has really helped take a lot of the burden off of me financially. I was part of the work-study program in first year but I got very sick so I couldn’t really work at that time. I applied for general bursaries that year, and I’ve applied in each year since, and they’ve really helped with my living expenses and tuition.
Because some of the pressure was off, I was able to get very involved in the Engineering Society. In second year I was the paid business manager of EngLinks, the Society’s on-campus tutoring company. Near the end of second year, I was asked to run for the executive and now I am the vice-president for operations.
Doing this job has exposed me to the world of finance, which is one I knew very little about before. Currently, as vice-president for operations, I have been working a lot on business processes. I created a centralized banking system for the Engineering Society. These are the kinds of challenges I am really interested in, especially if I can use my engineering background and my interest in computers. Ultimately I’d like to combine my interest in finance and business with my interest in quantum computing.
Current computers perform their calculations and operations using bits, which can be one or zero. Quantum computers use “qubits,” where each individual number is both a one and a zero. This paradoxical nature will let them handle far larger amounts of data far faster than is currently possible. There are on quantum computers yet, but I know that big companies are already looking into commercializing quantum computing technology, looking at it pretty carefully. And I think this is where I can come in. I want to help with that process and see what technology can help businesses to do better. Queen’s support allowed me to develop this interest.