Students Helping Students
October 29, 2010
By Marie Weeren
At its heart, the Dalhousie Student Union accessibility bursary, established with a $30,000 endowment in fall 2010, is about students helping students.
“Part of every student’s student union fee goes into our accessibility fund which is used to award scholarships and take on other accessibility-related initiatives,” says Dalhousie Student Union Vice President (Internal) Kayla Kurin.
In honour of the Dalhousie Student Union donation, the Johnson Scholarship Foundation will put $30,000 into the Johnson Foundation scholarships for students with disabilities endowment. In 2008, the foundation made a five-year commitment to Dalhousie to contribute a maximum of $750,000, provided the university also raises $750,000.
Dr. William Hart, acting executive director, Student Academic Success Services, says when it comes to giving of themselves, Dalhousie students are amazing. “I think when students show a willingness to contribute to helping other students it shows that they have an understanding of what their peers might be going through and a dedication to making the university more accessible.”
André Gaudet, a first-year music student from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, is a Johnson Scholarship Foundation recipient. To Gaudet, the renewable scholarship represents more than much-needed and gratefully received financial support – it is recognition of the hard work he has put in to get to university. “It was a good sign to keep moving, that I was going in the right direction,” he says.
Kurin says the fact that the student union donation will be matched by the Johnson Scholarship Foundation means more students will be reached.
“In the past few years the number of students attending university with accessibility challenges, both physical, learning and mental, has increased,” she says. “This may be due to increased accessibility on university campuses as well as a reducing of stigma in the community. It is important for us to continue to strive to make our campus more accessible. There should be no reason for students living with disabilities to feel excluded from the university experience.”