When Allyn Edwards first came to Douglas, it was a means to an end. Much to his surprise, he is still deeply connected to the College community years after he graduated.
“I thought Douglas would be a good place to start while I figured things out, but I didn’t necessarily think I’d continue my education there,” says Allyn. He ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. “But I liked the small classes, and I made strong connections with my instructors. Douglas ended up being a good fit for me.”
Not only did Allyn connect with the learning environment, but he thrived in his extracurriculars and student positions as well. He was part of the Douglas Commerce and Business Association club, worked as a Student Assistant for the Future Students’ Office and became a Student Ambassador in his final year.
Ultimately, the people Allyn met are who made his time at Douglas memorable.
“The time we spent studying together and getting involved in extracurriculars made my college years really enjoyable. It made me a better student, too,” says Allyn.
Douglas is also where Allyn met his wife. “We met through the accounting program, and she was a Student Ambassador. In fact, there is a chance that I initially joined the Student Ambassador program because of her,” Allyn says.
“I’m an introvert, so my extracurriculars helped me step out of my comfort zone.”
The importance of building connections isn’t new to Allyn. He’s been involved in his community since he was a kid.
“My parents roped me into all these fundraising things and activities I didn’t want to do,” Allyn says, laughing. “What it did instill, though, was an understanding of the importance of giving back to your community.”
When Allyn discovered the Douglas College Alumni Association (DCAA) was recruiting volunteer board members, it seemed like a natural fit. The DCAA fosters lifelong relationships between the Douglas community and alumni, including offering professional development opportunities, raising funds and financially assisting students and graduates to achieve their goals.
After joining the board, Allyn wanted to see how he could further the DCAA’s efforts. In early 2020, a conversation about fundraising inspired Allyn to approach his employer, Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY). He proposed an opportunity to get involved with the Douglas College Foundation through corporate giving.
“Part of SRY’s cultural identity is giving back to the communities that the company is based in. Their headquarters are right down the street from us in New Westminster,” explains Allyn. “It only made sense to connect them with Douglas.”
SRY’s President, Gerald Linden, loved the idea. The organization launched the Southern Railway of BC Future Leaders Bursary through the Douglas College Foundation early this year. The bursary supports Indigenous and immigrant students enrolled in a CBA program.
“It can be hard to offer financial support to address issues like this as an individual. That’s especially true in an area like the Lower Mainland that has such a high cost of living,” says Allyn. “Approaching my employer was a great opportunity to provide that financial support to an area of great need.”
Read more: How a local company is breaking down barriers for underrepresented students at Douglas
It all adds up
When deciding which groups would benefit the most from the bursary, Allyn and SRY consulted with the Douglas College Foundation. The answer made perfect sense to Allyn, who has family that have immigrated to Canada and not had their professional credentials recognized here.
“Moving to a new country is a huge change. Having to upgrade your education to continue in your chosen professional field adds to that stress,” says Allyn. “For many people, this may cause an additional financial burden, and I like that this award may offer them relief.”
Young immigrants can already face challenges in their education, from language barriers to unfamiliar learning systems. Mature or educated students face additional roadblocks when their new country of residence doesn’t recognize their previous education and experience.
SRY’s bursary has also inspired a legacy of philanthropy within Douglas itself. In April, the Douglas College Foundation launched its 2022 Spring Campaign, which aims to raise $70,000 to help fund Indigenous and immigrant student bursaries at Douglas. These donations will be matched by Douglas College.
TD Insurance, a long-time partner of the College’s alumni program, will further match donations made by Douglas alumni (up to $10,000), tripling the impact of every alumni contribution.
“Supporting people who are your neighbours, friends or family, and people who might be your future co-workers, is very important to me. All I want is for the bursary to help them,” says Allyn.
Visit the Douglas College Foundation giving page to give a monthly or one-time gift, or visit the Alumni Relations website to learn how you can offer support with your time or expertise.