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Changing lives, one student at a time

For more than a decade, Georg Zoidl watched as his grandfather battled Parkinson’s disease and eventually passed. He knew then that he wanted more than anything to help find a cure for this devastating disease. 

So when Georg was offered a spot in a new program called Integrated Science at York in 2016, he felt he finally had a chance to make a real difference. Alongside 22 other students, he worked hard to keep up with the cross-disciplinary teaching in math, physics, chemistry and biology, all while playing for the York U Lions tennis team.

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Georg Zoidl

For his honours thesis, Georg chose to study the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease in memory of his grandfather. Once he completed his undergraduate degree, he looked for financial support a Master’s program in Biomedical Science at York to continue this critical research.

But Georg never dreamed that he would be nominated for the Nestmann Scholarship, established by long-time York University supporter Earle Nestmann.

Over 50 years, Earle has shown his commitment and enduring love for York University and its students. He started himself as a student and became a visiting assistant professor. Today, he is an active member of the University’s Board of Governors and a donor.

“I know what it’s like to be a student. I know what it’s like to struggle financially as you try to get your education. I have also been on the side of faculty and taught exceptional students,” says Earle. “That’s why my wife Berna and I truly understand and want to help the next generation of students.” 

True to his words, Earle established the Nestmann Scholarship Fund in 2010 for graduate students studying molecular biology or genetics at York University.

This endowed fund has changed the lives of 10 promising students including, most recently, Georg.

“The nomination for the Nestmann Scholarship came as a big surprise and it’s a great honour.” says Georg. “The funds will allow me to continue my research project on Parkinson’s disease.”

Endowment funds like this show just how much this tremendous support means to students at York.

“I’ve used this expression before and I’ll use it again, endowments to me are the ‘gifts that keeps giving’ and they provide opportunities to deserving students,” says Earle.

And Earle lives by those words every day, having generously contributed to other funds including the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Awards in Science, the Science Exploration Camps and most recently, the Student Emergency Relief Fund to support students deeply impacted by the fallout of the pandemic.

“My parents instilled a belief in education,” Earle explains. “And I have continuing faith in the present and future mission of York.”

To students like Georg, this support means the world.

“This Scholarship will always be special to me as it’s the first ever fellowship I’ve been awarded,” Georg says. “With these funds, I can hopefully help many generations to come.”