Rotary Club of Stratford goes a step further

Friday, September 2, 2022

As the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business settled into the Stratford community in the early 2010s, members of the Rotary Club of Stratford took notice. The opening of the school’s new campus in 2012 would coincide with the club’s 90th year in Stratford, and Rotary members were looking for ways to commemorate the anniversary.Students standing in the atrium of the Stratford School

An idea was born, and with a single fundraising dinner, the club raised enough funds to create the Rotary Club of Stratford Award at the Stratford School, to be given out annually for ten years.

Now, to mark their 100th anniversary in the community, the Rotary Club of Stratford has gone a step further and committed to granting the award on an ongoing annual basis.

It was important for us to support this extension of the university in our town,” says Jim Young, president of the club in 2011-2012. “We didn’t know this at the time, but as it turns out, this was the first scholarship the school had.

Helping fulfill dreams

Paula Barcanta HeadshotPaula Barcante, who graduated from the Global Business and Digital Arts (GBDA) program in 2016, was the first recipient of the scholarship. Currently a Product Design Lead at Dropbox, she says the scholarship made a real difference as an incoming student who had transferred from another university to pursue GBDA and already carried some student debt.

“The Rotary scholarship really helped me in the program and fulfill my dream — because that’s what I was there for. I was not messing around."

 I wouldn’t be where I am today without Waterloo and the scholarship. 

"In fact, I think the name of the University itself and the weight that it carries, especially in the tech world, is really strong.”

In keeping with Rotary’s motto “service above self,” the $2,500 award is given to Global Business and Digital Arts students who have demonstrated leadership and a dedication to volunteering in their communities, with first consideration given to students from Perth County. Since the award was founded in 2012, recipients have used it to fund studies overseas, upgrade necessary design equipment, and dedicate more time to studies instead of part-time work.    

The scholarship facilitates access for students coming from Perth County and strengthens the school’s bonds with the community, says Christine McWebb, director of the Stratford School.  

“We’re very appreciative of the support we’ve received from the Rotary Club of Stratford. We are part of the Stratford community, and anything we can do to strengthen our ties with the community is of great interest to us. We look forward to the continued relationship.”  

Paula Barcante says GBDA prepared her for a career in the real world. “It was extremely group-focused, and prepared me for working with other people. All those soft skills that we talk about, prove to be very important when you go out into the world. I think GBDA helped me develop that earlier.” 

The Club’s long relationship with Stratford is visible in its many local projects including the Stratford Rotary Complex with its two ice rinks, the Rotary Respite House and the Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth. The Club also provides scholarships and awards of over $45,000 annually to students from Stratford’s two Secondary Schools.  

Past President of the club, Ken Nesbitt, is pleased the club can offer the award as an ongoing contribution to the university and our community.


Some see students. You see potential.

Shape the future this Giving Tuesday. Make a gift to help unlock two challenge grants! Your gift will be directed to the Stratford School Excellence Fund, allowing us to recognize student excellence by awarding scholarships to GBDA and MDEI students this year (2022), in honour of the School’s 10th Anniversary. When $5,000 in gifts have been made to the Stratford School Excellence Fund, an extra $1,000 will be unlocked, which will allow 10 or more GBDA and MDEI students to receive Stratford School 10th Anniversary Scholarships! 

Some see students. You see potential.

Shape the future this Giving Tuesday. Make a gift to help unlock two challenge grants! Donations will be directed to the Stratford School Excellence Fund, allowing us to recognize student excellence by awarding scholarships to GBDA and MDEI students this year, in honour of the School’s 10th Anniversary.