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Mike Shaver Award

Barbara deGraaf

An “open source” of generosity and commitment

When Seneca honorary degree recipient Mike Shaver agreed to join Facebook in 2011 as an engineering director, he faced a dilemma. Mike had just joined Seneca’s Board of Governors, and the new job meant he’d have to relocate to California. Yet his dedication to Seneca was such that Mike requested the flexibility to return to Canada to attend Board meetings and functions. Facebook agreed.

“They really wanted a Seneca grad, I guess,” says Mike.

Mike’s connection to Seneca dates back to the early 2000s, during his time working with Mozilla. He advised the faculty in the School of Information and Communications Technology on incorporating open source technology into the curriculum and student projects. Mike’s expertise helped Seneca to become a global leader in teaching open source software and led to him being recognized with an honorary degree.

Recently, he established an award to support women pursuing their education in technology—a subject that is near to his heart and one of his top priorities at Facebook.

“My hope is that more women are successful and feel comfortable in our industry,” says Mike. “It is important to me that students see that their work is being recognized and supported.”

The Mike Shaver Award is awarded annually to a female student in the School of Information and Communications Technology, who has high academic standing and demonstrates financial need. The first recipient of the award was Barbara De Graaf, a student in the Computer Programming and Analysis program. Barbara had the opportunity to thank Mike in person at the 2015 Seneca Awards.

“It’s so nice to have something to recognize your achievement,” says Barbara. “Technology is still a male-dominated field, but it is definitely getting better at including females.”

Barbara’s love for programming first brought her to Seneca after earning a degree at Trent University. When she completes this program, Barbara hopes to start her programming career in a field that helps people, perhaps healthcare.

“When I get that dream job, I hope to help others the same way Mike has helped me,” says Barbara.


To learn more about how you can support Seneca students, contact us at advancement@senecacollege.ca.