Seneca News

Khody Bonas, a Business Administration — Human Resources student
Khody Bonas, a Business Administration — Human Resources student and recipient of the BMO Financial Group Business Bursary, announces the establishment of the Merle Bonas Award during Tuesday's Seneca Awards. The award is named in honour of her mother.

April 25, 2018

It’s not every day that someone goes from being a student to a donor of their alma mater in one night. But that’s exactly what Khody Bonas did this week — as far as her mother is concerned.

“Knowing how much financial aid helped to get me where I am today, I decided that was how I would give back in some way ... That’s why I named an award after my mom,” Bonas announced to her mother's surprise at the annual Seneca Awards reception on Tuesday, April 24 at Markham Campus.

Speaking in front of more than 400 guests in attendance, Bonas, a recipient of the BMO Financial Group Business Bursary, thanked all donors for their financial support.

“My success is our success,” the Business Administration — Human Resources student said. “And I’ll have you know that we have been quite successful. Those late nights, early-morning classes, blood-shot eyes, mismatched socks and bed hair hidden under a beanie have all paid off.”

Bonas put her life on pause a year and a half ago when she came to Seneca as a mature student. She studied full time during the day and took online courses to speed things up. She went to school in the summer, too, and applied transfer credits to finish her program in half the time.

While at Seneca, Bonas served on the Seneca Markham Recreation Council as well as the Seneca Varsity Council. She was also a student ambassador, a career peer and a director on the Seneca Student Federation board.

Bonas also worked off campus as early as 7:30 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. She often stayed up until the wee hours trying to finish homework.

“I know if I struggled financially, others definitely did, too,” Bonas said.

In fact, 25 per cent of those who leave Seneca before completing their programs cite financial difficulties as a primary factor.

“I don’t ever want a student to make the hard decision between continuing their studies and dropping out due to financial difficulties,” Bonas said. “I want them to experience all I have and more.”

The Merle Bonas Award, she added, is a “small way” of thanking her mother, who brought her and her sister from Trinidad to Toronto and survived ovarian cancer when Bonas was in Grade 5.

“She worked around her treatments and she never complained or stopped taking care of me and my sister,” Bonas said. “I saw her drive and how she put her all into what she did, and that was my example to follow.”

As for graduating this spring, “It’s the most bittersweet feeling to leave Seneca,” she said. “Having this award will allow me to keep connected to this family in a way that’s more meaningful than anything else I could think to do.”

Seneca Awards pays tribute to Seneca’s generous donors and celebrates the achievements of its outstanding students. It also provides a rare opportunity for award recipients to meet their donors. Here are some of what this year’s participants had to say:

RPA Impact Award

Donor Chris Ratnasingham and Fernando Johnston.
Donor Chris Ratnasingham (right) and his student recipient Fernando Johnston.

“As we get older, there’s no gym membership or cholesterol medication better for your heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”

Chris Ratnasingham, donor, Seneca grad (2007), Real Property Administration (Accelerated)

Yu Ling Award

Professor Daymond Ling and Anastasia Turcanu
Professor Daymond Ling with his student recipient Anastasia Turcanu.

“I'm honoured to assist students, not just in passing on knowledge and skills, but in creating an environment where they can focus on their studies.”

Daymond Ling, donor, Seneca professor, School of Marketing

Sid Leon/Brand Heroes Career Creator Scholarship

Donor Mike Leon and Angela Zigras, Academic Chair
Donor Mike Leon with Angela Zigras, Academic Chair, School of Hospitality and Tourism.

“I’m so in awe of the responsibilities students have to face, if I can help even a little bit, I feel like I’m doing something positive and meaningful.”

Mike Leon, donor, Seneca grad (2000), Broadcasting — Television