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A helping hand

Basil Dobbin Family Foundation bursaries supporting first-year students

Campus and Community

By Lisa Pendergast

Higher education is a privilege not afforded to everyone.

For many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, it is a lofty, even unobtainable, goal. But generous donors, such as the Basil Dobbin Family Foundation Inc., are giving the gift of education to first-year students who have faced financial need as well as personal hardship.

Destiny Lush and Gina Bishop – the inaugural recipients of the Basil Dobbin Family Foundation Inc. Bursary – now have an incredible opportunity ahead of them.

Critical timing

Destiny Lush, one of the inaugural recipients of the Basil Dobbin Family Foundation Inc. Bursary.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Ms. Lush is no stranger to determination and perseverance.

Born in Ontario, she moved to St. John’s at just six months of age and was raised mostly by her grandmother. In elementary school, Ms. Lush was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

She worked hard to graduate with honours from Holy Heart High School last year.

Throughout her schooling, Ms. Lush believed she had funding for university. However, when she finished Grade 11, she learned that circumstances had changed and that this was not the case.

The Basil Dobbin Family Foundation thus came at a critical time for her, and she was more than thrilled to receive the news.

“The email came in and I told my grandmother and she started to cry. I told her she was going to make me cry, too,” said Ms. Lush. “Without this bursary, not only would I be financially strained, but with my personal situation, I truly don’t believe I would be able to attend Memorial. I don’t know how to express how much it means to me without sounding totally cliché.”

She is pursuing an international bachelor of arts degree with the goal to be the first university graduate in her family and to inspire her siblings to follow her path and make their educations a priority.

Her career aspirations are to teach English in Korea with the option to return to Newfoundland and Labrador to teach, as well.

A welcome surprise

Ms. Bishop grew up in Gander and graduated from Gander Collegiate with a 94.8 per cent average. News that she had received the Basil Dobbin Family Foundation Inc. Bursary came as an incredibly welcome surprise.

“I did not think that the email was real,” she said. “After applying for another bursary that I did not receive, I was feeling pretty discouraged, thinking that I was not going to get anything. I was really, really excited.”

The news came as a huge relief to Ms. Bishop, who had been working throughout the pandemic, trying to save as much as she could towards her university education.

She is pursuing a bachelor of social work with the goal to attain a career that allows her to help people struggling, whether from mental, physical, legal or financial issues.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Memorial,” said Ms. Bishop. “It’s important to me to study social work because I was in the foster care system when I was younger. A lot of my social workers graduated from Memorial and told me it was a great program. I want to help people the way that they helped me.”

A generous donation

The Basil Dobbin Family Foundation Inc. established The Basil Dobbin Family Foundation Inc. Bursary Endowment with a generous donation of $1,175,000, allowing these bursaries to be awarded in perpetuity.

The foundation is committed to  supporting education for young people in Newfoundland and Labrador. The bursary is awarded to students in their final year of high school in Newfoundland and Labrador who have demonstrated both critical financial need and perseverance in the face of challenges.

“An investment in education will not only benefit these young minds, but also benefit N.L. and our collective future.” — Dr. Jill Dobbin

The bursary is renewable for up to three years and is intended to fund full tuition, mandatory fees and supplies. The program includes not only the bursaries, but also provides funding for academic supports to help ensure student success.

“Education, and particularly a Memorial University education, is an incredible asset,” said Dr. Jill Dobbin.

“We are aware that not everyone has the same access to support, so our family foundation wanted to do something about that. It was important for us to give to young students for their first year of university both financially, and with academic supports, to put them on the path to success. An investment in education will not only benefit these young minds, but also benefit Newfoundland and Labrador and our collective future.”

‘I won’t let them down’

Ms. Bishop has been doing well in her first year of university and availing from the supports offered by her advisors. She believes there are many other young students like her, who would truly benefit from the generosity of those who give in the area of education.

“I believe there are people out there who have great potential and could go to Memorial and go on to do great things, but they don’t have the financial support to be able to do that,” she said.

“If these bursaries didn’t exist, there would only be a certain income level of people attending Memorial. Bursaries help to create diversity and people with different perspectives can come to both share and learn. We can all contribute to a better society.”

“[This bursary] has given me a reason not to give up.” — Destiny Lush

This bursary has done more than provide financial stability for Ms. Lush; she says it has inspired her to push forward in a difficult year.

“It’s honestly like a script in a movie,” she said. “I graduated high school in the midst of a global pandemic, I began my first year of university online – my computer crashed, and there have been health issues within my family. What more could happen? But this bursary has done more than ease my financial strain. It has given me a reason not to give up. If things got worse with our medical issues, I could see wanting to give up, but the Dobbin Foundation picked me and I won’t let them down.”

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