We are so proud to be able to announce our three recipients of our 2016 Bursary Awards. There were many wonderful applications this year, and we do encourage applicants who were not successful to apply again in the future.
These three recipients all have very different and inspiring stories. We will be posting their stories on our blog this week, and we thank them all for sharing their experiences and wisdom. We also wish them the best of luck in their studies!
Our first recipient … Aja Toste
Being born premature at twenty-four weeks, weighing five hundred grams, has greatly shaped my life experiences. When I was born, the doctors and nurses were in doubt at first that I would survive. However, through perseverance and resiliency, I did. With the help of the amazing professionals at SickKids (Hospital for Sick Children), and the immense support of my family, I am considered a survivor. It is the embodiment of the title “survivor” that I empower myself with.
Thankfully, medically I have had little to overcome (besides minor breathing issues at times, and slightly underdeveloped lungs) due to my prematurity. Personally though, being a premature child did result in bullying. With all this being said, other family health concerns have created immense obstacles to achieving my education. To make a long story short, my mother, grandmother, and the man I consider my father, all have died from cancer or stroke by the time I was 20. There has also been a strain on myself and my family (my aunt) as she too has been ill with cancer for the past couple of years, and is only now recovering. To say the least, these experiences have been struggles, but ultimately I have coped through focusing on my education and establishing a career.
My journey towards establishing my career started during my first undergraduate degree. While studying at York University, some of my volunteer work included: being a mentor for first year students, as well as a statistics tutor within my affiliated college; being a research assistant for a psychology lab as well as on another direct project for a professor; and, finally being a crisis-intervention volunteer (and eventually employee) for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Support Line and Leadership (SASSL). Outside of school, my community work included being a child-life volunteer for SickKids.
My overall goal for my career is to provide inclusive, equitable, accessible, and compassionate health-care to other vulnerable folks in need. As such, I am pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto for nursing. My academic goals include not only wanting to excel from a grades perspective, but also through being involved in my University community and nursing community. I hope to be greatly involved in innovative research. In the future, I would also love to teach at the University of Toronto, or at one of the teaching hospitals in the area such as SickKids. Ultimately, although I can never truly repay those who helped save my life, I want to give back as much as I can to the communities who gave so much for me.