The case to carry on
Staff member Rubin Kataki (BA '17) shares his very special reason for giving to Waterloo
“This place changed my life,” says Rubin Kataki (BA ’17), who came to Waterloo as a first-year student in 2013. Settling into residence, Rubin found a supportive culture. “I loved the people I lived with. They gave me the room to be myself as a South Asian person of colour and a member of the LGBTQ2IA+ community. In so many ways, I was able to discover my best self here.”
On Rubin’s first day in residence, he met fellow student Alex Foto. The two quickly became friends. “I started swimming at the PAC pool where Alex was a student lifeguard. We often walked home together, and we’d talk about our passions, school, family…our lives.”
Tragically, Alex lost her life in a bicycle accident that summer. Rubin was devastated.
“Alex was an incredible friend. She was also a student-athlete, a residence don, a Warriors cheerleader and a youth ambassador for World Vision. She was a true role model who made making a difference mandatory.”
To honour the life of this remarkable young woman, a scholarship was created in her honour. It was to the Alex Foto Memorial Fund that Rubin made his first charitable gift to Waterloo.
At the time, he was working as a student caller in Waterloo’s call centre, a job he continued throughout his undergraduate years. “Reaching out to alumni was a great way for me to share my passion for Waterloo.” As graduation approached, Rubin thought more seriously about pursuing a career in fundraising. “I knew I had something special to offer. So when a management opportunity in the call centre came up, I jumped at the chance to stay at Waterloo.” Ironically, one of the student callers Rubin supervised in his new role was a recipient of the Alex Foto memorial scholarship. “How proud Alex would have been if she’d had the opportunity to meet Hannah — a kind, hard-working and incredibly deserving student.”
Rubin is now a matching gift specialist in the Office of Advancement. He continues to support “Alex’s scholarship” annually. “Giving feels good. It makes me happy to honour Alex, and to know I’m supporting other students the way I was supported when I was a student here.”
Before the pandemic, Rubin sometimes walked along the same path he and Alex once walked. “There’s a tree and a bench there dedicated in her memory. I’d sit on the bench and watch a new generation of students go by, and think about how pleased Alex would be to know her legacy lives on.”
He reflects on his Waterloo journey with gratitude. “There are moments in life where you look back on the people and experiences that shaped you. How fortunate I was to have known Alex, and to have had so many other opportunities to learn and grow at Waterloo. Today, my work and my financial contributions not only allow me to do good, but also to feel good when I see the impact I’m making on students. I hope Alex would be proud; I think she would be.”
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.