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Directly support hard-working McMaster students

By giving to scholarships or bursaries, you help a new generation of students find meaning and inspiration through a McMaster education. The students profiled here are just a few of the many people whose lives are changed by donor-funded scholarships and bursaries.

Thank you for your support!


Jonathan Lai is tracing the roots of autism

“Each child with autism is unique,” says Jonathan Lai, a neuroscientist and PhD candidate at McMaster, who is researching the genetic underpinnings of the disorder.

“Something happens to the brain when it’s growing – and these events can change the trajectory of the brain’s abilities,” he says. Influences can be genetic or environmental, or an interaction between the two," says Lai. “My research focuses on the genetic side of the story."

A 2011 Vanier Scholar, Lai has received a number of honours, including a travel award named in memory of Lillian Rose Stegne (BScN ’62). This donor-funded support gave Lai the opportunity to present his research at a neuroscience conference in San Diego.

“These awards help us to be exposed to the most current research, talk to other researchers face-to-face, share problems and spark further ideas. It’s very encouraging.”

He hopes his research will contribute to a better understanding of the genetic influences on the developing brain. “By understanding the root causes of autism, we will improve our chances of effectively treating people with autism as individuals.” 


Joanna Das Gupta is paying it forward as a student caller

What was Joanna Das Gupta’s favourite memory when she arrived for her first day at Mac? “The friendly faces of the Welcome Week Reps!”

She paid it back by volunteering during Welcome Week in her second year. “Afterward, a student recognized me and said I really helped to make her first week at McMaster memorable,” says Joanna. “That was really rewarding.”

Now completing her second year in honours sociology and labour studies, Joanna has two part-time jobs. For one of them, she works as a student caller reaching out to Mac alumni. She’s also received a McMaster bursary in her first and second years.

“Without this bursary, the financial pressures would have been inconceivable. I’m so grateful.”

"I must begin by thanking you for your generosity."

The award I received has made a significant contribution to my education. Being raised by a single working mother, there just wasn’t enough money put aside to fully cover my tuition. Hence, there are few words to express my gratitude.

I was born and raised in Hamilton and decided to pursue my education at McMaster University not only because it is in my hometown, but also because it is simply an excellent place to grow and learn.

I am in my third year of study, pursuing a combined Honours in Philosophy and Labour Studies. I plan on attending law school to fulfill my desire of becoming a labour and employment lawyer. When that day comes, perhaps I will be in a position to “pay it forward” and show a student the generosity shown to me. Thank you.

-Shannon Quest, Social Sciences III


Alon Coret is pursuing a passion for health care

“There’s a lot to be learned when you step outside the classroom,” says fourth-year Arts and Science student Alon Coret.

“Thanks to a scholarship funded by gifts from Mac alumni, I was able to travel to India for a month-long, inquiry-based research project.” Alon studied health care challenges, met with health providers across many disciplines, and volunteered with schoolchildren.

“It was a wonderful experience – very enriching, very meaningful,” says Alon.


Heather Dulap is giving back as a student leader & volunteer

This past summer I was pleasantly surprised to receive the Class of 1953 50th Anniversary Scholarship.  It was a wonderful honour and I thank you very much for supporting students who dedicate their time to helping people in the local community. 

The main way I am involved in the community is through volunteering with Ontario’s Autism Assistance Program (AAP).  Over the past three years I have spent a couple of hours a week tutoring a young girl who has autism.  In the beginning, the sessions were challenging, as the girl was non-verbal and grew aggressive when she had difficulty communicating how and what she was feeling.  As I spent more and more sessions with her, however, I grew increasingly familiar with her behavioural patterns and within the first year she was making definite improvements.  Most notably, just this past month she has gained the ability to speak in full sentences, which now allows her to convey her concerns during an exercise.  Often it’s about a desire for food or the wish to go to the park, but nevertheless it is an extremely exciting accomplishment.

In my second year I began volunteering with McMaster’s Autism Assistance Program (MAAP), the campus chapter of the AAP.  Today I have entered my second year as president of MAAP and am very proud to support such an incredible cause.

I am so grateful for having received this scholarship because, in addition to relieving some financial stress from my family, it is further affirmation that my work in the community is making a difference.

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