There and Back Again

dan in italyMy two greatest passions in life are music and computers.  The University of Waterloo was instrumental in providing me with the perfect place to explore both of them.

I came to the University of Waterloo because I wanted to learn how to build and program computers. I applied and was accepted into the Computer Engineering program. I can't imagine a better program; we learned it all, right down to the electrons!

While at Waterloo, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience two work terms abroad; one in Oxford, England and the other in Oulu, Finland. I loved my time in both countries, but simply put, my time in Finland was awesome. The music scene was right up my alley. While working in the role of  research assistant, I was able to check out the latest house and electro-house music acts in the area. I should mention that I’m a DJ in my spare time and I was thrilled to pick up some new tracks and sounds from the locals.

Financing these trips wasn’t easy. Even though I had received a scholarship from Imperial Oil I still had to take out a loan and sell some of my DJ equipment to cover up-front costs like airfare, visas and renting apartments sight-unseen (then quickly renting another once seen). The cost of living short-term overseas is pretty high as well.

That was over 10 years ago. I can only imagine how hard paying for post-secondary education is for today’s students. Recalling my own challenges, I wanted to help ensure great opportunities like these aren't missed because of short-term cash flow issues. It’s so important to make the most of your university experience, and studying and working abroad is a big part of that. I started giving a small amount to Waterloo the year after I graduated and increased my gift when I was in a better financial situation to do so.

Today, I’m a Principal Architect working on security systems at BlackBerry. When people ask me why I give to Waterloo, I tell them that I wouldn’t be in a position to give if it wasn’t for the education I received there. While there are many great charities, few have the research capabilities to help solve problems that Waterloo does. I like to think of my giving as an investment in the future.

In keeping with that line of thought, I’ve started the process of making plans to leave a gift to the University of Waterloo through my estate. With the lasting impact Waterloo has had on me, I view this as simply way of returning the favour.

Thanks for reading!

P.S.- I have since replaced the gear I sold and still DJ in my spare time.

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