By Linda Scales
Nicole Ouimette, Farid Seifi and Jessica Damery are 34 of the 1,056 University of Ottawa employees whose reasons for supporting the annual Employee Giving program were at the heart of the 2016 fundraising campaign.
The eight-week “I Give” program – which concludes this week, on April 15 – encourages employees to donate to projects of their own choosing, all of which directly support uOttawa students. The program is part of the University’s $400 million fundraising campaign, Defy the Conventional.
The 34 employees featured in this year’s campaign each have their own reason for donating, but they share a common concern. Each cares greatly about the well-being of students at the University.
It's all about the students
For Nicole Ouimette, chief administrative officer in the Faculty of Arts and a Telfer alumna, giving back is all about the students. Ouimette says her position – and, of course, the University itself – wouldn't exist without students. "It’s the reason we’re here," she says.
Ouimette, who is a Franco-Ontarian with roots in north-eastern Ontario, became a uOttawa employee in 2000. Her dedication to the well-being of students shines through when she talks about the Faculty of Arts 125th anniversary Student Experience Fund. She directed her donation to the fund, which enhances the experience of Arts students by supporting international exchanges, conferences and internships. It also funds scholarships, competitions and various academic events.
Farid Seifi is an enthusiastic supporter of the Employee Giving program because he benefitted from it himself as a doctoral student. Seifi started his PhD in computer science as an international student from Iran in 2009. During his studies, he worked part-time in the University’s CO-OP office. He defended his thesis in 2015, and now works full time in the same office as a programmer-analyst and is a permanent resident of Canada.
“I know how important it is,” says Seifi, recalling the support he received. He particularly wants to thank the donors at uOttawa for the help they gave him.
For Seifi, the University – and especially the CO-OP office – “is like a big family to me.” He directed his Employee Giving donation to the annual CO-OP Student of the Year Awards, which reward one CO-OP student from each faculty, based on excellence in academics, extra-curricular activities and on-the-job achievement.
Finances shouldn't be a barrier
Jessica Damery, who is the liaison manager for Anglophone and immersion markets within Strategic Enrolment Management, has noticed that the new students she interacts with are stressed. The uOttawa alumna and current part-time MBA student remembers the challenging financial reality that prevailed when she was an undergraduate.
“Finances shouldn’t be a barrier to getting an education,” she says. “It’s important for students to have a cushion for the unexpected.” She chose to direct her donation to the Employee Emergency Fund, which helps students cope with urgent or exceptional financial situations.
“We see how many doors open because of education,” says Damery. “We don’t want doors closed because of finances.”
The campaign is about to wrap up, but there’s still time to help raise the number of reasons for donating to the 2016 Employee Giving program. Employees have until April 30 to help their faculty or service reach their participation goals. To read why other employees give, visit VirtuO.