The University of Calgary is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive environment with a keen focus on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for minority groups at all levels of administration. Every year the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) holds a Graduate Awards Competition where graduate students can apply to over 100 awards through their department. As the breadth of awards offered through FGS continues to expand, the introduction of an award specifically for graduate students with disabilities is an important step forward.
Alex Paquette, GSA Vice President Academic, recognized that there was a gap in the awards categories offered at the university to graduate students. Since the beginning of his term at the GSA, Paquette worked on securing funding and support from the GSA, FGS, and the university to launch this award. Paquette received $25,000 from GSA Quality Money which was matched by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, to establish UCalgary’s first award for graduate students with disabilities.
For the next 10 years, two graduate students with disabilities will receive $2,500 each as part of the Overcoming Adversity Graduate Scholarship. This award will recognize the achievements and contributions of these students to their fields and to the campus/community. This award will officially launch in fall 2021 through the FGS Awards portal.
“Students with disabilities face several additional challenges, financially, academically and socially,” Paquette says. “This award will help offset some of the financial burden while also recognizing the varying abilities within the graduate student population and challenging the stigma in academia.”
This award comes at a perfect time as FGS is in the process of ensuring systemic barriers to graduate students’ success are addressed. Initiating this award is a step towards that goal.
“At the University of Calgary, we believe that graduate studies should be accessible and open to people from all backgrounds and walks of life, and yet we recognize that some members of our community face greater barriers than others,” says Dr. Robin Yates, vice-provost and dean. “With this award, we are moving toward a more equitable vision of graduate education that doesn’t exclude anyone from taking part in this life-changing intellectual adventure because of disability.”
To learn more about this award, visit the Graduate Studies Awards website