June 18, 2019
Why give back to Waterloo?
Five alumni reveal the inspiration behind their giving
Five alumni reveal the inspiration behind their givingBy Megan Vander Woude Office of Advancement
Philanthropy has a powerful impact on the Waterloo community. When that philanthropy comes from our own alumni, it means so much more. It shows that you have confidence in your education, your Waterloo experience, and the impact we make on the world.
Often, our generous alumni point to a specific person or experience that inspired them to give back. Read on to find four of these inspiring stories.
Michael Robson (BA ’13) found support among African, Caribbean and Black student groups when an unfortunate hip surgery kept him from the football field. The personal connections he made helped him get through a tough time.
MICHAEL ROBSON, BA '13
The key with this award is that it’s for students who volunteer – students who are taking time out of their busy school lives to give back to their own communities and give back to the broader student community at Waterloo.
As an alumnus, Michael still values the impact and support he found in these student groups. It inspired him to create the Collective Movement Award, which supports students who volunteer in African, Caribbean and Black communities. It’s his way to encourage other students to get involved in the Waterloo community, and support their fellow students.
Dennis (MASc ’92) and Elizabeth (BA ’64) Huss are proud to be Waterloo alumni. Both of them have spent their lives helping others in the Waterloo Region – Elizabeth as a marriage and family counsellor, and Dennis as a financial consultant. Both feel a strong connection and desire to support the Waterloo community as well.
DENNIS HUSS, MASc '92
One of the many reasons we feel an affinity with Waterloo is the strong clinical psychology program in the Faculty of Arts.
After losing their son Stephen, who struggled with schizophrenia during his adult life, the couple was inspired to support Psychology students with extracurricular involvement in mental health initiatives.
"We wanted to give back and make sure the University can continue doing such remarkable work," says Elizabeth.
When Michael Symonds (BMath ’00) studied Actuarial Science at Waterloo, he developed strong friendships in his classmates. His small class of six bonded together while they juggled coursework, co-op experiences, and professional exams.
Years later, Michael wanted to pay tribute to his friends and their experience at Waterloo. With his classmates, Deep Patel (BMath ’00) and Craig Doughty (BMath ’00) – and a contribution from his employer’s matching gift program – he supported a new study space in the Mathematics 3 building.
MICHAEL SYMONDS, BMATH '00
I just loved the idea of having a memento of our time here…. Life intervenes, you don’t see each other as much, so I thought, let’s come together, rekindle things.
CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA, BASc '99
My hope is that for many students they get some part, if not more than what I was able to get [at Waterloo], which was self-confidence, resilience, access to opportunity, and the ability to believe in the bigger future… and then the courage to try and do something about it.
When Chamath Palihapitiya (BASc ’99) started in Waterloo’s Electrical Engineering program, he wondered how he got in and how employable he would be at the end of it. Over the next five years, Chamath developed the confidence and skills that led to a very successful business career.
The venture capitalist and former Facebook executive has made many efforts to help engineering students receive the strong foundation he did, including a gift to build the state-of-the-art Engineering 7 building. He hopes that students will take advantage of the learning opportunities inside.