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Breaking barriers to education

Karina and Darcy Biagioni
Karina and Darcy Biagioni

Many bright, highly motivated high school students lack the financial resources to attend university, and many aren’t considered for entrance scholarships because they can’t augment their applications with an impressive list of extracurricular activities and community involvement. Darcy and Karina Biagioni want to change that. They believe that incoming students’ personal circumstances should be assessed. “Some of the best applicants don’t necessarily show up right away because they have another story,” the Biagionis explain.

Established in 2017 with a $1 million gift from the Biagionis, the Darcy and Karina Biagioni Family Scholarship is a $50,000 entrance scholarship modelled after SFU’s new Undergraduate Scholars Entrance Scholarship Program. The program evaluates incoming high school students on excellent academic standing, extracurricular activities and community service participation; however, the university will also consider personal circumstances that may affect the content of their application. The Biagionis are pleased that SFU is embracing these changes. As their son Sam says, “The aim of this scholarship is to foster excellence without perpetuating the restrictions that are usually in place.”

SFU has played an important role in the Biagioni family’s lives. Darcy and Karina had their first date on campus at the Shrum Bowl, and they graduated in 1982 with BAs in Business Administration and Urban Planning respectively. Their two sons, Nick and Sam, are also SFU alumni (BBA ’09 and BA in History ’13). The entire family values their SFU education and they want to give ambitious students with financial barriers that same opportunity.

Carrie Ng and Regina Baeza Martinez, the inaugural Biagioni Family Scholarship recipients, are looking forward to their first year at SFU. “I’m very grateful to have earned this opportunity to pursue my aspiration of becoming a lawyer,” says Carrie, “and I am excited to kick-start my academic journey at SFU.”

Regina immigrated to Canada 11 years ago with no familiarity of the English language and few personal belongings. “Since then, many things have changed, but Darcy and Karina's donation has without a doubt made the most positive and significant difference,” she says. “I can't wait to join the SFU community, start my classes and begin an entirely different round of challenges.”

The Biagionis hope that others will be inspired to support driven students like Carrie and Regina, no matter what they choose to study. “We’re pleased and honoured to be involved with SFU,” say the Biagionis. “We think more people should do this.”