Students thankful for support from University community and Emergency Student Bursary

The University of Lethbridge community never fails to rally around those in need, especially when it comes to supporting students.

In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, it quickly became apparent that some students were facing severe challenges to make ends meet. Many students lost part-time jobs, had trouble putting food on the table or making rent payments — all while trying to complete a semester that had been turned upside down by an unprecedented switch to an online platform.

In very short order, the creation of a new bursary — the Emergency Student Bursary — was expedited and the call went out to the University community to throw its support behind the new fund as well as the existing International Student Bursary. The call was answered by 121 donors who combined to raise $28,814 for the two funds, which eventually assisted 21 students.

“The need for this kind of support was acute and had to be addressed in short order so that these students could get the help as quickly as possible,” says Chelsea Sherbut, a research awards and stewardship officer in University Advancement. “A lot of work went on behind the scenes to get this bursary up and running and when we were able to go to our community and seek support, they responded immediately. Our donors made a real difference in our students’ lives during a very difficult time.”

Students who received support through the bursaries also expressed their gratitude, recognizing that many of those who donated were likely facing challenges of their own at the time.

“The bursary money helped me pay for rent and food until the Canada Emergency Student Benefit was released,” said one student recipient. “I am so grateful that the University was there to help support me with my financial, mental and emotional needs. Thank you to all the donors who made those couple months more manageable because of their generous donations.”

Sherbut says the Emergency Student Bursary is just the latest example of how the University community comes together to enhance the experience for all U of L students, in good times and bad.

“You see it through the Supporting Our Students fund, the donations to the Students’ Union Food Bank, the Campus Care Parcel program — all of which support the needs of our students throughout their academic journeys. If there are ways we can help our students achieve their goals, our community is quick to jump on board.”