Seneca News

Lisa Spencer speaks at the fifth annual Seneca Awards reception
Lisa Spencer speaks at the fifth annual Seneca Awards reception about the impact of student financial awards.
June 21, 2017

A mother of two children with disabilities, Lisa Spencer remembers completing assignments from her son’s bedside in the emergency room. She also remembers borrowing money from his piggy bank to pay for textbooks.

“I felt tremendous guilt, but going to school full time requires sacrifices. For some, this may mean spending less time with family. For others, this may mean working overtime to pay tuition,” she says at the fifth annual Seneca Awards reception at Newnham Campus on Tuesday, June 20.

Lisa, a graduating student of the Honours Bachelor of Child Development program this June, is a recipient of the Seneca Cup and the Walker Wood Foundation Early Childhood Education Award.

“The Walker Wood Foundation award helped me balance my role between being a student and being a mother,” she says. “It means more than just financial assistance. It validates my continued efforts throughout my studies and I’m humbled by the recognition and grateful for the contribution.”

Seneca Awards pays tribute to Seneca’s generous donors and celebrates the achievements of its outstanding students. This year, more than 550 donors, students, family and guests, and staff attended the event, which provided a rare opportunity for award recipients and their donors to meet.

With 25 per cent of those who leave Seneca before completing their programs citing financial difficulties as a primary factor, donor support continues to be critical when it comes to student success.

Riejae Powell, and Mike Shaver,
Riejae Powell (left), a Computer Networking and Technical Support student, meets her donor, Mike Shaver, at the Seneca Awards reception.

Last year, about 1,700 awards totalling $1.3 million were given out thanks to donations from corporations, businesses, associations and individuals like Mike Shaver, who established an award for women in Computer Sciences and was one of the founders of Seneca’s Centre for Development of Open Technology.

“We talk often about preparing students for the world they’ll enter, or re-enter, after Seneca,” says Mike, an honorary degree recipient and former member of Seneca’s Board of Governors. “In addition to the world as it is, we need to prepare students to build the world we want: inclusive, compassionate, courageous and imaginative. We need the world to reflect what we most cherish in Seneca students.”