Students facing barriers to higher education have a new resource to help them achieve their goals.

The Joyce Scholars Awards provide funding for learners in challenging financial or socio-economic circumstances. Open to students entering any program at the University of Waterloo, the awards can be renewed for up to four years.

Waterloo alumni help to create awards – and opportunities that change lives

Two Waterloo alumni with The Joyce Family Foundation, executive director Maureen O’Neill (MES ’00) and trustee Rob MacIsaac (BA ’84), say their time at Waterloo helped them start their successful careers.

“It was the perfect preparation for the rest of my life,” says Rob, who graduated from the program now known as Arts and Business. “My grounding in a variety of disciplines, and my co-op experience, gave me an excellent foundation for the jobs I would take on and the education I would later pursue.”

Maureen O’Neill

Maureen O’Neill (MES ’00)

Maureen earned her Master’s in Environmental Studies, after moving from Vancouver to pursue her degree. “The program I took was second to none,” says Maureen.

“I was so pleased that the Board chose Waterloo to create these student awards. It’s a world-class university, and everyone who has the potential to benefit from a Waterloo education should be able to do so.”


Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo, says the awards will help talented learners reach their full potential.

“I am truly grateful for this investment,” he says. “The Joyce Scholars Awards will enable students from all backgrounds to pursue their passions and grow as citizens and leaders. I look forward to witnessing their accomplishments as they work with our University community to create more sustainable, prosperous futures for all.”

Awards honour the memory of a trailblazer in Canadian business

The Joyce Family Foundation’s commitment to students builds on the legacy of Ron Joyce, the renowned Canadian entrepreneur who invested in the first Tim Hortons donut shop and grew it into one of the nation’s most iconic companies. Creator of the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation, the philanthropist and business leader established The Joyce Family Foundation in 1995 and remained actively involved until his passing in 2019.

“Ron never had the opportunity to pursue a higher education, but he recognized that it could be a game-changer,” says Maureen. “He really believed in hard work, determination and having a vision.”

Rob MacIsaac

Rob MacIsaac (BA ’84)

Rob adds, “He was a great Canadian and an extraordinary man. He had a big heart for young people who were struggling to overcome difficulties.”

Maureen says the awards at Waterloo align with Ron Joyce’s belief in fostering young people’s passions.


“Often, recipients will say, ‘I grew up wanting to do this particular work, and this is my opportunity.’ They also tell us they want to turn to their younger counterparts one day and provide for them just as The Joyce Family Foundation did. It’s a wonderful example of giving back and gratitude.”