A $50,000 gift from a retired post-secondary education employee will be used to launch a new scholarship and bursary fund at Lethbridge College. The fund will support students with immediate unexpected financial barriers that keep them from completing their studies.
This initial donation from Jessica Bennett, who previously worked as a Records and Information Manager within the post secondary environment, has been used to establish the new Dragonfly Education Fund. Bennett created this fund as part of a planned gift endowment designed to provide bursaries and scholarships to Lethbridge College students at the time they need it, as a way to promote mental health and student success.
The gift is part of the college’s $1 million Ready to Rise Campaign, which is raising funds for new scholarships and bursaries that will provide support to students in need, helping them to rise up, meet the challenge, finish their education and be ready for their future.
Bennett says it was important to her to work with the college to create a fund that can accept donations of any size “as a way to bring together a community who is as diverse as the students who need our assistance.” She adds that she wanted to make a gift that would have a true positive effect on students and lead them to a better future where they can give back to their own communities.
“The name of my fund symbolizes growth, transformation, and self-realization,” says Bennett. “I believe education is one way people can achieve these goals. Unfortunately, sometimes life events occur, and people need to make tough choices; I don’t want not completing their education to be one of those choices. I created the Dragonfly Education Fund to address unexpected life changing events to keep students in school. People should not have to withdraw because their childcare changes, or their books are stolen or something unexpected happens.”
The first bursary has already been awarded to Shanjini Kumar, a second-year student in the Interior Design Technology program, who says: “Like everyone else, I have various obstacles to overcome daily, but being able to pursue full-time education in the wonderful environment Lethbridge College provides is truly such a blessing. This award will definitely help me continue on and fund my dreams. I feel extremely motivated going into my final year and I cannot wait to finally cross the finish line!”
For many students, scholarships and bursaries are the one support that make it possible for them to stay in school and complete their programs, says Ednna Stobschinski, a second-year Renewable Resource Management student and the president of the Lethbridge College Students’ Association.
“These times have been indeed challenging and concerning for students for a number of reasons,” she says. “Isolation, layoffs and decreases in job opportunities, social anxiety due to the fear of spread of COVID-19 but at the same time the endless need to put food on the table, the uncertainty to make ends meet and increases in tuition are things that cross my mind every day. Being the recipient of an award makes a huge difference to me and my family; it brings relief in my desire to build a better future. I am committed to continue doing my best, and hopefully, inspire others to not give up on the things they truly desire.”
Lethbridge College saw a 100 per cent increase in demand for bursaries in December 2020 compared to previous years.
“Thanks to the generosity of donors like Jessica, we were able to award more bursaries than ever,” says Lethbridge College President and CEO Dr. Paula Burns. “And the most meaningful part is that we saw more than 97 per cent of students who received bursaries in December 2020 ended up completing their winter semester. The gift of a student award, for many students, is that safety net they need to continue on their educational journeys. We are so grateful to Jessica for this generous gift, and to all who have supported students in our Ready to Rise campaign.”
For more information about the Dragonfly Education Fund, or to learn more about other ways to support students at Lethbridge College, go to lethbridgecollege.ca/dragonflyeducationfund or call the Development Office at 403-320-3457.