AU distributes 134 emergency bursaries to learners in need
The global COVID-19 pandemic affected many learners’ ability to continue with their studies.
Recognizing the long-term impact of the situation, Athabasca University (AU) created an Emergency Relief Fund for learners in our community who were coping with an urgent financial need due to the pandemic.
Thanks to both of AU’s student unions, our generous donor community, and some internal AU funds, AU was able to distribute 134 $1000 emergency bursaries to support learners in need.
Wanda Mersereau, bursary recipient and graduate learner, wanted to show her gratitude and explain how she was able to continue her studies thanks to the bursary she received.
“I was so thankful that Athabasca University was offering funding to students in need. I had signed up for two MAIS courses to take through the summer but I had no idea how I was going to make everything work with so little money and such an uncertain future. Receiving the bursary meant I was able to pay my rent and focus on my classes without wondering where my grocery money was going to come from.”– Wanda Mersereau, bursary recipient and Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies learner
Now halfway through the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) program, Wanda was able to apply the bursary towards continuing her studies and staying on track.
Mary-Anne Parker, President of the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association (AUGSA) emphasized that providing support to learners in need aligns with AUGSA’s mission to ensure graduate-level education at AU is accessible, affordable, and of outstanding quality.
“It was important for us to support students financially and we are so grateful that between our collaboration with the AU community and our colleagues at AUSU, we created something that was able to help so many learners during this difficult, unexpected, and frankly chaotic time.” Mary-Anne Parker, President, AUGSA
Bachelor of Health Administration learner, Dylan Logan, also emphasized what receiving the bursary meant to him and his family.
“Receiving the emergency bursary meant a lot. With the fallout of COVID-19, my wife was off work and as like most people, we were dipping into our savings heavily to make ends meet. Bills and unforeseen expenses don’t stop during a pandemic so this extra money really helped.”– Dylan Logan, bursary recipient and Bachelor of Health Administration learner
While continuing to work as a nurse in mental health and addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dylan mentioned that receiving the bursary allowed him to continue with his studies and reduce financial stress during this unpredictable time.
Natasha Donahue, President of the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU) expressed that AUSU’s mission is to put students first—and emphasized just how important supporting students in need is.
“Students supporting students – that is fundamentally what your student union is there for, and this bursary is one way we can help students during this unprecedented time. Investing in these bursaries with AUGSA, Athabasca University, and other donors to increase the amount of funding available was important to us, as we continue to support our students any way we can.” – Natasha Donahue, President, AUSU
The power of communities coming together and supporting one another has never been more important. The generous donations from Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association (AUGSA), and the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU) —and additional support from the community, including donations from CUPE 3911 (AU tutors and academic experts), AU alumni, donors, and team members—has enabled 134 learners, like Wanda and Dylan, to continue their studies and provided relief during their time of need.