Thompson Rivers University

New campaign = new opportunities for Williams Lake students

December 11, 2023

Mark and Sally Nairn have kickstarted a campaign in support of TRU students in Williams Lake.

A newly established, $1-million endowment campaign is aimed at making education more affordable for students in Williams Lake.

Philanthropists Mark and Sally Nairn are championing the Williams Lake Endowed Fund at the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) campus in that community, which will provide financial support to students.

“There are a lot of very good students in this town who have great capabilities and are smart people — they just don’t have the finances to go to university and it’s a real shame,” says Mark Nairn. “The reason we picked $1 million as our goal is that it should generate about $40,000 a year that will be used for bursaries to support students in need coming to our campus.”

The Nairns kickstarted the initiative by pledging $100,000 during the TRU Williams Lake Gala in October. An additional $33,966 was raised through the evening’s fund-a-need auction. There’s still a long way to go to get to a million though, and they’re challenging others to step up for students in Williams Lake.

Encouraging others to join the campaign

TRU student Lauren Penner

TRU student Lauren Penner

“It’s not only good for the students, it’s good for our community as well,” he says. “The university is an economic driver here and I think anybody who’s lived here and done well really should contribute.”

Giving back is already second nature for many people in the Cariboo, including members of TRU Grit, a group of volunteers who support students through fundraising initiatives, such as the annual TRU Williams Lake Gala. Over the past eight years, the gala has raised more than $200,000 to support post-secondary students in Williams Lake, with all funds raised going directly to the annual TRU Grit scholarships, awards and bursaries.

As TRU Williams Lake looks ahead, a $1-million endowment ensures long-term financial sustainability for student support. All contributions to the Williams Lake Endowed Fund will generate revenue to benefit students in that community, annually and in perpetuity.

Over the years, many students in Williams Lake have benefited from TRU Grit scholarships, awards and bursaries, including TRU student Lauren Penner.

“It’s really difficult to study full-time while managing a household with three very busy children, so if I tried to work a full-time job or even a part-time job, I think that would really impact my studies. Having some extra income to help cover those costs reduces my stress and helps me excel in class,” says Penner, who plans to go into nursing in Williams Lake after she graduates.

“There’s nothing better than supporting someone achieve higher education and supporting the growth of this community.”

Find out more about the fund.

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