Paying it Forward

Devon FillionNational Philanthropy Day is November 15th and in the spirit of Philanthropy, Alumni Relations caught up with Devon Fillion, a current student in the Faculty of Science who has aspirations to give back to Waterloo as an alumnus. Devon was also the recipient of the Sullivan Entrance Scholarship launched over 30 years ago by Gerry Sullivan, a former chemical engineering faculty member and University of Waterloo Board of Governors member. Read how Philanthropy has influenced Devon's life below.

In recent years, tuition and other fees have grown dramatically for students wishing to pursue a post-secondary school education; meaning that a larger number of low- and middle-income families aren’t able to assist their children in paying their expenses. Last year, I faced the same problem. My parents weren’t in the financial position to help me pay for school and I was too afraid that if I took a part-time job during school my marks would fall below what was required for my program. So I had two options:

1) Rely heavily on OSAP and other loans and try to save up as much money as I could from a summer job or

2) Research different scholarships and bursaries that I might be eligible for to reduce my financial stress

As you may have guessed, the first option is almost never enough for a student entering first year, as OSAP only covers expenses to a certain point. This is why many young students waste a year of working a job they may not be interested in, in order to cover their expenses. I was now left with the second option, knowing full well that if I couldn’t find enough bursaries or scholarships to pay for my fees, I would have to stay back and work another year like so many others. Luckily, it turned out there was a large selection of bursaries and scholarships students just like me could apply for, so I did. With very helpful donations from the Kiwanis Club of Brantford, the Samuel W. Stedman Foundation, The Sullivan Entrance Scholarship, and the James Hillier Foundation, paying for school became much easier to deal with. Without generous donations from foundations, individuals, and organizations, students like me wouldn’t be able to pursue their interests for at least another long, stressful year.

This is what has inspired me to give back in my future. I wish to repay all of my debts to these generous organizations and individuals as soon as my financial situation permits. But beyond that, I wish to start my own scholarship fund aimed towards students who were in my exact same position: having the passion to continue their education but lacking the money to do so. So, acts of altruism beget further acts of altruism, and I hope that my future fund will inspire others to do so as well.

This is just one of the initiatives we’re showcasing in celebration of National Philanthropy Day, which takes place on November 15. Check out Storify to see what else is happening. 

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