Life had thrown him another curve ball! He had always bounced back, had worked through them and make it out the other side. This time it was different. The circumstances seemed to be beyond his control. He was tired and ready to give up. By the time he came to my office, he was not going to write his last exam that would qualify him for graduation. He had studied for five years, had contributed to university athletics, had given of his time to help first-year students. But he was done! This setback was more than he could imagine overcoming. He was ready to throw it all away. He didn’t care anymore and didn’t have the energy to go on.
Then came along a professor who believed in him and she had an opportunity to help: a unique internship with an organization where she knew he could shine and be valued. But she needed funding to make it happen. When we dug into every pot of funding we had left, we came up short. The professor persevered; she wasn’t going to give up on him and neither were we.
Our fundraising office had an idea. Find a philanthropist who would be interested in funding an internship for a student with a disability. The philanthropist loved the idea and those few dollars were life-changing. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF) Pathways Program was developed to have three components: pre-orientation programing, pre-graduation programing, and professional development and experiential learning opportunities in between, in the form of internships designated for Meighen Centre students.
My student completed his degree requirements and was awarded his bachelor’s degree. He is now onto his second job and doing something he would never have imagined doing three or four years ago. His sights are set on graduate school where he can further his skills. That’s the power of philanthropy and the JSF Pathways Program at Mount Allison University.
Anne Comfort is the Director of Accessibility and Student Wellness at Mount Allison University. She is also the co-chair of the CACUSS (Canadian Association of College and University Student Services) Community of Practice on Inclusion and Accessibility.