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Student Impact Stories

Julie Kessler

Julie Kessler
Julie Kessler

Because wealth is not an indication of worth

I grew up in a single parent household and my mother returned to school when my siblings and I were quite young. I saw my mother struggle during this time, but she persevered as she knew that education was the key to providing us with a better life. She also told us that staying in school and going on to post-secondary education was important for us.

My name is Julie Kessler, I am 19 years old and grew up in Cambridge Ontario. I am a first year Recreation and Leisure student here at Conestoga College. I chose to attend Conestoga because it is close to home and provides many opportunities to gain more experience. Conestoga College is helping me to learn the important career related skills to guide me on the right path to my success in the Recreation and Leisure Field.

I have received the Neil Aitchison Award and it is going to go a far way in the advancement of my studies. Receiving this scholarship felt extremely satisfying, because it proved to me and others that volunteers do not go unrecognized. It will help me have more financial support during my two years at Conestoga College including offsetting my tuition and textbook fees. This award has decreased my stress level financially because now I focus on my studies, rather than having to work throughout the school year. During the summer months I only have to work one job rather than two, which will help a significant amount and give me some time to enjoy the sun.

My future post-secondary plans is to take recreation therapy and to start a career at a juvenile facility running programs with the troubled youth. I hope to find myself making teens lives better, and help them get back on the right path.

I have seen how much of a positive impact donations make, it has given some of my classmates a chance to get back on their feet as well as make it easier to get by every day. Most people who have received awards tell others how easy it is to apply and how big a difference it can make in a students life. Conestoga students really value the awards they can receive as it can make postsecondary education a lot more manageable. Other students and I that receive awards are forever grateful and appreciate the donors contribution to our education.

Read Julie’s story [+]


Vania Agostinho

Vania Agostinho
Vania Agostinho

Because education is a game changer

The path that has led me where I am today has been a challenging one. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or be perceived as not being capable in a male-dominated industry. These uncertainties drove me to want to prove to myself and others that I could overcome obstacles. I can honestly say I exceeded even my own expectations.

My name is Vania Agostinho. I am 27 years old, from Kitchener, Ontario and I am currently in the Level 2 International Technical Education Program at Conestoga College.

The path that has lead me to where I am today has been a challenging one. Between my loss of interest in my previous field as a Radio Broadcaster and working dead-end jobs, I knew it was time for a change. When I was accepted into the Motive Power Fundamentals Program in 2013 I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my classmates or be perceived as not being capable of becoming successful in a male-dominated industry. In a way, all of my uncertainties drove me to want to prove to myself and to others that I could overcome any obstacles that stood in my way of becoming successful.

Teachers and other staff noticed how determined I was, which opened many more doors for me. I was offered a part-time position within the school as a Technician Assistant where I had the opportunity to gain and improve skills that I need for the future. I was asked to participate in a video shown on the college website as a representative of the trade programs offered at Conestoga College. I have taken part in many Women in Trades meetings, where I've had the pleasure of speaking to young women in high school about the industry and programs that are available to them. I have also participated in many marketing events for the college, such as Open Houses where I interact with future college students who are interested in finding out more about the trades programs.

I graduated with honors from the Motive Power Fundamentals Program in 2014, achieving high 80s and 90s in all of my classes. All my hard work was rewarded when I was presented with a scholarship. I was extremely thankful to have received such a generous award and put the money I received towards my tuition for the ITEP program I am enrolled in now. I am confident and eager to pursue my career as a Truck and Coach Technician.

This year, I am the Student Representative for my program, which has given me the opportunity to sit down and share opinions, suggestions and the odd joke with amazing people in the industry. Also, I am currently working as an apprentice at Carrier Centers and am involved with the Transportation Maintenance and Technology Association of Waterloo Region.

Overall, this has been a very satisfying and enlightening experience that would not have been possible without the help of Conestoga College and its donors. I couldn’t be happier, and I am looking forward to a very bright and successful future.

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Ali Javed

Ali Javed
Ali Javed

Because you have put your faith in us

I am not the only one who can easily say that your support, whether big or small, makes a tremendous difference for full-time students. It is your persistent and generous contributions to Conestoga that makes education affordable, especially to those who need it most.

August 18, 2012 was my first day ever in Canada. I had moved from my home country of Pakistan, where I spent most of my life, into another completely foreign country with no knowledge of its cultures, norms or traditions. Barring my own brother and a few relatives, I did not know many people here. However, soon after joining Conestoga College I became more settled and relaxed in my new environment. Not only was I able to make new friends with similar traits as mine, but I also became fond of the new student life on campus and the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that altogether made the culture shock a rather smooth phase.

I chose Conestoga because of its specific program selection and all the specializations it offered. My first program of choice was Business Insurance which offered a two-year diploma. After successfully graduating, I transferred directly into the second year of the International Business Management Degree program, which is where I am currently. Conestoga made this transition easy for me and gave me a chance for a broader future career in the field of Business Management.

Like most jobs, it is vital to have experience along with the proper education. Fortunately for me this program mandated a year of co-op work, making it easier for students like me who wish to land a job as soon after graduating. However, just like anything else, securing this seat in the program was another financial burden along with my list of dues. This award, made possible by our generous donor community, lifted an entire weight of burden off my shoulders. Every dollar that I received made a world of a difference towards my tuition fee and my monthly expenses. I felt flexible enough to purchase the required textbooks for my courses and put money aside for any future payments.

I am not the only one who can easily say that donations, whether big or small, make a tremendous difference for full-time students. It allows those students who are only able to work a certain number of hours a week, to take a sigh of relief and concentrate more on their studies instead. It doesn’t only help with expenses but it motivates students to work even harder. It serves as an incentive for those who have lost the drive from their academic work load. I for one can gladly say that donors have given me momentum and made me realize how hard work never goes unnoticed and how every sleepless hour is recognized in some way or another. It is humbling to receive an award like this and I am ever so grateful to all those who made it possible. It is their persistent and generous contribution to this college that makes education affordable, especially to those who need it most.

Read Ali’s story [+]


Jaclyn Shewchuk

Jaclyn Shewchuk
Jaclyn Shewchuk

Because you have allowed us the chance to put our dreams into action

Thank you for being an important part of my pathway to success and happiness. I am where I am today because you allowed me to put my dreams into action. I am proud of the transition I made and am grateful for the support I have received, as this is the area I feel most passionate about.

I had earned an Honors Specialization in the Health Science degree at the Western University prior to attending Conestoga. My degree symbolizes both the pride and endless dedication I had put forth in order to complete a four-year degree. While studying sciences, I had a passion for hospitality and culinary arts that I could not wait to pursue. I am now proud to be a student in the Hospitality Operations program at Conestoga. Conestoga has not only offered an incredible hands-on learning environment, but the atmosphere is also one of endless support, allowing me to foster my true passion.

I am grateful of the support I have received from Conestoga and generous donors, as I embark on a more risky but passionate, career path. The time spent at Conestoga will aid me in my future endeavors as I aspire to open a café in Northwestern Ontario. This program has not only enriched my creativity in the kitchen but it has also enlightened me about the business and theory of hospitality. I consider Conestoga to be an institution built around motivated and passionate students. Because Conestoga offers practical trades, I truly notice the effort students invest in pursuing their education in their chosen field. Inevitably, many students make sacrifices to earn their education, which is why I believe that the assistance provided by awards is so important.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the generous donors on behalf of the Conestoga student community and myself. Not only does the award granted assist me financially, but the award also symbolizes recognition for the dedication I have invested to arrive at this point in my education. In addition to being allocated towards my tuition, the award will assist with my textbook expenses—this is especially beneficial because I am not selling my textbooks as I find that they will be valuable resources in the future.

Once again, thank you for being an important part of our pathway to success and happiness.

Read Jaclyn’s story [+]


Rhys Hayes

Rhys Hayes
Rhys Hayes

Because Conestoga offered exactly what I needed

I am sincerely grateful to our donors for their generosity and kind-heartedness. My ambition to become a Registered Nurse has actually made that much easier thanks to you. I will be forever grateful for your generosity and support of students at Conestoga.

My name is Rhys Hayes and I am from Guelph, Ontario. I am a first-year student in the three-year Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (BScN) at Conestoga College. I chose to attend Conestoga College to continue my education because I think the college offers a leading edge in post-secondary education. In addition, my experience in the Practical Nursing Program was rewarding due to the wonderful and engaging faculty members. These instructors have many years of experience and are leaders in their field and learning from them provides students with insight into the field.

I would strongly recommend Conestoga College not only for the high quality of teaching, but also the comprehensive campus services and advanced learning technologies. For students of the nursing program, the Cowan Health Sciences Centre is a modern and welcoming area to learn and practice our clinical skills. Practicing and learning in rooms that are well equipped and laid out very similar to hospital rooms in the field is an asset upon graduation. The ability to access the resources of the clinical technologist staff and practice real-life scenarios in the Cross Centre with interactive simulation equipment fosters critical thinking and contributes to my success as a care provider. Upon graduation, I see myself working as a Registered Nurse providing excellent care to our community members as well as enhancing their health.

I am truly honored to be the recipient of a scholarship for this academic year. Indeed, this very prestigious award not only recognises my community involvement and leadership, but is also a great financial support for me. As a mature student, my decision to leave my stable employment and return to school was an agonising one. I knew that I wanted to become a Registered Nurse but I was unsure of my capacity to handle the workload as a full-time student as well as afford the cost of post-secondary education. Without a doubt, both the financial and academic demands placed upon me are onerous. However, this award helps to relieve some of the financial burden of post-secondary education and enables me to focus my time and energy on completing my studies as a nurse. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the donors and many others for their generosity and kind-heartedness. My ambition to become a Registered Nurse is actually made that much easier thanks to the donors of this award. I will be forever grateful for their generosity and support of students at Conestoga College.

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Natalia Lima Fernandes

Natalia Lima Fernandes
Natalia Lima Fernandes

Because a world view is important in setting the foundation and framework for our thoughts and actions

I came to Canada last April as a part of the Science Without Borders exchange program of Brazil. I love having the chance to study and share experiences with people from all over the world.

My name is Natalia. I am 19 years old and I am from Brazil. I came to Canada last April as a part of the Science Without Borders exchange program of Brazil.

The Science Without Borders program gave me the opportunity to study at Conestoga College. I started my studies at Conestoga in the English Language Program at the Doon Campus. This program enabled me to study now in the Mechanical Engineering program at the Cambridge Campus. I particularly love to study at Conestoga College because it is a space where I can grow as a person, student and professional.

The two things that I love most about this program are having the chance to study and share experiences with people from all over the world and getting the chance to participate in various activities and leadership projects. This is possible because of the positive environment available with the equipment and resources necessary to earn a good education.

As a student of Conestoga College who wants to become a competent mechanical engineer and help people through my education, I want to say thank you to all the donors who support Conestoga. They are not only supporting my education and dreams, but also the education and dreams of so many other students at Conestoga. These donors, through their support, are making this world and the life of many people so much better.

Read Natalia’s story [+]

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