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Cupcake sale addresses real issues

Graduate remembers times of need 

by Sameera Raja and Shenikia Clarke – Public Relations and Corporate Communications

A recent Campaign for Students cupcake sale at Seneca@York reminded graduate Stephanie Braithwaite, who now works at 9 Story Media Group, of when she first came to Seneca from Peterborough for the Art Fundamentals and Animation programs.

She had a setback in her OSAP and was left with only the $40 she brought from home for the first month of school.

Cupcake sale

Braithwaite soon found herself in one of the most challenging times of her life, scrimping and saving, and relying on the food bank provided by the financial aid office. Because materials for her drawing classes were expensive, Stephanie would stay after class to collect the ones that classmates would use and toss away. While fellow students explored the city and socialized, Stephanie stayed indoors in efforts to limit spending and curb her commuting budget to school.

“I never left the college, I never knew what Toronto was until I graduated,” says Braithwaite, as she donates to the sale.  “I never got the chance to visit Nathan Phillips Square, or know that the Yonge-Dundas Square existed. Because I didn’t have money to take the bus often or anywhere else.”

Stephanie emphasizes the importance of supporting students. “I know how difficult it is being in school and dealing with financial issues, having to worry about when my next dinner would be, or am I going to even be able to eat for the next two days?  It’s a huge struggle every single day.”

Stephanie BraithwaiteStephanie

The Campaign for Students, a faculty and staff giving initiative includes events like the cupcake sale to raise money for students in financial need. To mark the Campaign’s fifth anniversary this year, faculty and staff along with the Seneca Student Federation (SSF) plan to host a number of events during the span of the Campaign. The goal is to raise $99,000 through events and donations.

Cynthia Luey, Special Projects Officer, oversees campus fundraisers, and says the need amongst students is evident.

“We as employees of the college recognize that we are here for the students. Everyone who works at Seneca is here for the students, so it’s very sad and unfortunate when we see students leave due to financial reasons. A lot of the students can’t afford the tuition, or resources, books, laptops and transportation.”

This year, Cynthia says, the Campaign for Students hopes that Seneca employees will signup for payroll donations. “We’re looking for champions to lead the way to show their full support in this form of staff giving.”

“A lot of students at Seneca barely get by, this is the extra support to see more students graduate and get the assistance they need,” says Samir Abdi, Manager of Campus Operations for SSF. It is important for post-secondary institutions to recognize financial need and implement alternatives that encourage student success so they can function at the best level possible.

Peter Di Rosa, a first-year Arts and Science student says he “feels an obligation to give back to Seneca as long as it is a good initiative, which this is.”