, Bancroft, Ont.
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.