When Jose L. came to Canada in May 2019 with his wife and two children, he sought to give his family a better future. It was an exciting new beginning. With the goal of providing for his family, Jose made advancing his education one of his first priorities. He chose BCIT.
“I firmly believe that education is directly linked to success,” he writes in a letter to the BCIT Foundation thanking donors for their financial support. “I witnessed this here as a father and as a web developer. I will not lie. Being an international student is not easy. There are many challenges to overcome, and there were other obstacles that we did not count on. Unfortunately, we are facing a huge one: COVID-19. Receiving the funding from BCIT Foundation donors played a fundamental role in my training and even in my journey here in Canada because of the emotional impact of knowing that my family and I would not be alone in this moment of crisis.”
BCITSA helps even more students in need
As a non-profit organization focused on student service and advocacy at BCIT, the BCIT Student Association (BCITSA) announced its commitment of $130,000 towards the BCIT Student Emergency Response Fund (SERF). SERF provides one-time funding to support students, like Jose, who are currently attending BCIT and are experiencing an unexpected financial emergency.
“The Student Association’s generous commitment to the Student Emergency Response Fund is extraordinary,” says Jackie Jacob, Executive Director, BCIT Foundation. “Their dedication to our students’ success is inspirational. As a leading donor to this fund and a longtime philanthropic partner with BCIT, the BCITSA truly puts students first. Since 1984, the Association has donated over $1 million in support of students, including bursaries and awards. On behalf of all our students both now and in the future, I extend my most heartfelt gratitude to the BCITSA.”
As a BCIT student (Bachelor of Business Administration), Hunter Sones, who is also the President of the BCITSA, is well aware of the struggles of his peers.
“BCIT students’ financial situations have been negatively impacted by COVID in many unique ways,” he explains. “But some of the most common include a loss of income, either partially or completely, a reduced capacity to keep up with financial obligations, and the need to use up savings.”
In early 2020, BCIT had established the short-term COVID-19 Emergency Student Response Fund (CSERF), which helped 319 students impacted specifically by the pandemic. CSERF was established with the one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency funding that was delivered by the Ministry of Advanced Education in April 2020 to 25 public post-secondary institutions across the province. Recognizing the ongoing need for an emergency fund that helps students affected by COVID-19 and other emergency situations, BCIT created SERF to provide a wider scope of financial assistance for students.
Hunter, who initiated the $130,000 donation from the Association to the fund, says the BCITSA wanted to act on BCIT survey data that revealed most students have been negatively impacted financially by the pandemic.
“As an organization governed by and for students, the BCITSA knows how important it is to support our peers and make certain that the focus of BCIT students is on their studies, not their finances,” he says.
The ripple effect of generosity
This spring, Jose completed his Associate Certificate in Applied Web Development, graduating with distinction. The assistance he received from the emergency fund was an invaluable support that helped him stay motivated and earn his credential.
As donors gave back to support students like him, Jose hopes to pay it forward by contributing to his community in his own way, too.
“I want to express my gratitude to BCIT donors, who have gone to great lengths [to help] in response to the pandemic,” he writes in his letter. “I will continue to improve my skils and contribute even more to the community… My mission is to give back to the community.”
Support BCIT students in need. Donate to the Student Emergency Response Fund: bcit.ca/donate
Thank-you messages from more BCIT student award recipients
“I am writing this to say thank you for supporting me financially during a unique moment in human life history. I am a person with a disability, and I had difficulty to focus while I was studying because I was under severe anxiety and stress. You helped me to focus on my education, and the result was an 87% GPA in the summer and spring semester. You taught me a priceless lesson, which is helping each other at a time of need. I hacked this lesson on my heart, and I will follow your pattern in the future.”
- Matt A., Technology Management
“Since COVID-19 has started, my life has completely turned upside down due to the changes around me. My family’s financial situation was not stable as my parents work relies on tourism. I am thankful to BCIT for giving me the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 Emergency Student Response Fund.”
- Amanda M*., Marketing Management
“During the lock-down, I was unable to find a suitable part-time job as originally planned. Needless to say, this resulted in an unexpected and difficult situation. Your generosity helped me get through a tough time and finally obtain my diploma in General Insurance and Risk Management. One day, I hope to find enough success in the insurance industry so that I could financially support those in need, just as you have supported me.”
- Alex L., General Insurance and Risk Management
Are you a student looking for more information about the BCIT Student Emergency Fund? Learn more.
*Named changed by request
Main photo: BCIT Student Association representatives at the BCIT Kickstart event in 2019.