When it came to her career, Maria Miniyarova had a plan. After high school graduation, she would complete BCIT’s two-year Business Management diploma program, and then earn a Bachelor of Business Administration the following year (her third)—all while maintaining her waitressing job to pay for tuition. Everything was going according to plan until, at the end of Maria’s second year at BCIT, her life came to a screeching halt.
“My health had started to deteriorate in the spring of my final diploma year, just as I was planning for my final year of the Bachelor of Business Administration program,” said Maria at the BCIT Alumni Association Appreciation Event recently.
Maria was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease as a child, and, unfortunately, in her second year at BCIT, suffered a significant health setback that necessitated emergency surgery and left her unable to keep her job and without a means to pay tuition.
“I couldn’t work, and this posed a strain on me financially,” she said. “Luckily, the year I really needed it, I received a generous bursary from the BCIT Alumni Association that I was able to put towards my studies and I successfully completed my Bachelor of Business Administration.” Today, Maria is working for a leading tech company as an account manager.
Maria was one of three current and past BCIT students who shared how the generosity of the BCIT Alumni Association impacted their lives at the BCIT Alumni Association Appreciation Event on May 29, 2018.
Hosted by the BCIT Foundation, the event celebrated the strategic and philanthropic partnership between the foundation and the BCIT Alumni Association. Over the past 30 years, the association has donated more than $1.3M to the foundation, enabling close to 1,000 students to pursue their dreams with the help of awards and bursaries. In 2012, the association made a significant commitment through the Legacy of Leadership Campaign, resulting in a total gift of $500,000 over six years.
Addressing the crowd, Elena Romero, president of the BCIT Alumni Association, said she remembers when the association members were deciding on that $500,000 contribution. “It was my very first board meeting…we were making the decision about the $500,000 commitment. It was both terrifying and thrilling at the same time. To now see that commitment, six years later, and to see students and alumni who have benefited, is wonderful. We are so proud to be a partner with BCIT.”
Elena also revealed the Alumni Association will make another significant commitment. “We are proud to announce, on behalf of the alumni board, that we will donate $40,000 to create the BCIT Alumni Association 40th Anniversary Entrance Awards, giving $1,000 awards to 40 students in the fall of 2019,” she said to applause.
The announcement was warmly received and Jackie Jacob, executive director, BCIT Foundation, and master of ceremonies for the event, expressed gratitude on behalf of BCIT: “BCIT and the BCIT Alumni Association have been key strategic allies in support of student success for more than three decades. We are delighted to recognize the magnitude of the association’s philanthropic leadership. And I am very excited for the work we will continue to do in the future.”
The impact of the BCIT Alumni Association’s generosity is tangible. Current Bachelor of Accounting student Alykhan Bandali and Marketing Management diploma student Gregory Frame, who also spoke at the event, said the awards they received allowed them to focus more on their studies (they both earned enviably high GPAs in the 90s) and participate in experience-rich competitions and conferences.
“BCIT isn’t the buildings, it’s the people, the current students and the 180,000 alumni in 100 countries around the world,” said Paul McCullough, vice president, BCIT Advancement to the room of donors. “Our graduates will tell you the reason they are successful is because of BCIT…and they stay engaged because they want to give back time and resources to this institution. Thank you for what you do.”
Encouraging the crowd to continue giving back, Jack Davidson, chair, BCIT Board of Governors, and an Operations Management diploma grad from the class of 1969, added, “I’ve had 50 years of loving BCIT. This school is the greatest institution in BC and you can’t help but stay involved and pass on the benefit and the education you got at BCIT by helping those that follow.”
Top: BCIT Alumni Association President Elena Romero (third from left) with alumni board members and student award recipients.
Bottom: L-R Malcolm Hunter, Director, BCIT Foundation Board; Paul McCullough, Vice President, BCIT Advancement; Elena Romero, President, BCIT Alumni Association; Jackie Jacob, Executive Director, BCIT Foundation; Jack Davidson, Chair, BCIT Board of Governors