Microcredit program has its rewards

With increasing financial burdens being placed on students, it is quickly becoming less economically feasible for many to participate in projects and experiences beyond a standard post-secondary education.
The University of Lethbridge Students' Union (ULSU), through its travel and conference grant program, strives to enable student participation in activities that may not otherwise be financially viable. Recently, the ULSU helped finance a trip to Costa Rica for four Rotaract Club members who assisted a microcredit (small loan) project.
Jason Pan became involved in the microcredit project because he saw it as much more than a volunteer opportunity.
"I see a lot of myself in the people we help," says Pan, a fifth year University of Lethbridge biology student. "My parents do not come from well-to-do backgrounds and in a sense, helping others is akin to helping people like my parents live and achieve their goals."
Rotaract holds an international fundraiser each year; last year the organization began the microcredit project in Costa Rica. Without microcredit programs, countless impoverished individuals worldwide, unable to gain access to traditional financial credit, would likely never exit poverty.
"It was incredibly meaningful to be able to visit the community and interact with the people who will benefit from the money that we raised," says Alix Blackshaw, a third-year University of Lethbridge neuroscience student, who also participated in the project. "To see the help we can bring to their community really shows that a few dedicated students and some hard work can make a huge difference."
Projects like this are testament to the significance of student involvement in extra-curricular endeavours complimentary to a post-secondary education.
"University is about experiencing new things and capitalizing on new opportunities," says Adam Vossepoel, ULSU president. "Through travel and conference grants, we facilitate this growth and allow students to move beyond their academic agendas to participate in international projects or events relevant to their education."
Brianne Rohovie is the ULSU Communications Coordinator