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Helping ‘B’ students succeed

Photo credit: Melody Pal, Portrait Gallery of Canada and the Itinerant Photo Studio

When it comes to giving to support higher education, Melody Pal (BA ’85) says it’s time to be more inclusive of ‘B’ students. 

Most financial awards offered by universities and colleges are open to applicants who have a strong academic record. 

But as Melody notes, those with lower but decent grades may also have the potential to succeed at post-secondary school, and shouldn’t be left out because of their financial circumstances. 

“All students deserve a chance to pursue an undergraduate degree, especially since this is now the minimum educational credential you need to get a job,” says Melody, a retired project manager who lives in Toronto. 

To correct this imbalance, Melody decided to leave a gift in her Will to York University to create a new bursary for financially challenged Toronto students who have an average grade of 70% to 79%. 

The bursary will be given to one person per year applying to an undergraduate degree program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.  

Melody’s own life story is testament to the fact that individuals of all academic levels can benefit from a York degree. While she wasn’t an ‘A’ student at York, she has certainly been able to make the most of her Honours Bachelor of Arts Economics degree. 

At the start of her career, she worked for her family business, and later worked at other organizations in various roles ranging from computer help desk support to IT project management.  

Taking a broad view of post-secondary education, Melody says her gift to York is also a way to enable more people to experience the personal growth and friendship-building that is an integral part of a university journey. Among Melody’s fond memories of her four years at York are dancing at Stong College parties, attending York Outdoor Club outings and giving campus tours to prospective students. 

Those opportunities to explore new experiences outside the classroom nurtured a love of discovery in Melody, who enjoys yoga, travel, studying teas and volunteering as an adult literacy tutor and as a mentor to new project managers. 

At a time when higher education has never been more pivotal to life advancement, Melody hopes her bequest to York sparks a trend toward more donations aimed to help ‘B’ students. 

“When I told some of my friends about my gift, their first response was laughter. Then, they responded, ‘That’s a great idea!’,” she says. “I hope other people might be inspired to join me and make higher education more accessible to students who have the potential to excel.”