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Spirit of giving back: Maria Fernanda’s story

Ambitious Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business student, Maria Fernanda, has just completed her final semester of accounting studies. Originally from Puebla, Mexico - just two hours’ drive from Mexico City - she made the bold decision to leave her family and move to Canada to pursue her academic dreams five years ago.

Upon arriving and settling into a dorm room on campus, Maria found herself overwhelmed like most first year undergraduate students, learning important daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting and banking. Maria, however, faced the added complication of being in a new country, using a language she was still working hard to master and without the support of her family and friends nearby.

Inspired by her mother back home, Maria was determined to do her best and make her proud. However, unforeseen personal challenges during her first year made it impossible for Maria to maintain the grades necessary to keep her entrance scholarship. Devastated, but not deterred, Maria returned for her second year of studies and applied herself diligently until her grades returned. For her incredible accomplishment, she was rewarded with the Mildred Wirtanen Undergraduate Scholarship in Business Administration. The scholarship support was “a light at the end of the tunnel,” according to Maria. More than just a financial boost, she truly felt supported by her donors. Inspired by their generosity, she committed herself to helping others through peer mentoring and other volunteer positions in an effort to give back.

Maria’s future plans include completing a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation and later opening her own non-governmental organization so she can continue to positively contribute to society. Presently only 30% of eligible SFU students are able to obtain financial support through bursaries, scholarships and awards. More donors – like the ones who believed in Maria – are needed to encourage students to continue to work hard and complete their degree at SFU. To find out how you can help, please visit our student support section today.