Assistance for students who overcome barriers

Assistance for students who overcome barriers

York University introduced a prestigious new award for the 2022-2023 academic year, the Tentanda Via Award, reflecting the University’s motto, Tentanda Via: The Way Must Be Tried. The award is the culmination of work done by staff and administrators in 2021 to determine the criteria, plans for a rollout and promotion within the community.  

Just as the motto represents the timeless notions of pursuit, perseverance, resilience, and innovation, the recipients must demonstrate either perseverance and fortitude in overcoming personal barriers in pursuit of a university education or demonstrate leadership in progressive and sustainable development initiatives. The awards are not academic- or merit-based. 

The Tentanda Via Award recognizes up to 60 students annually who meet the award’s criteria – 45 domestic students and 15 international students. Domestic award winners receive $10,000, which is renewable annually for three additional years. International undergraduate recipients will receive an award value of $30,000 which is renewable annually for three additional years.  

“One of the priorities of our current University Academic Plan is ‘From Access to Success,’ a commitment to providing access so that no talent is left behind,” said Karen Warner, manager of scholarships and bursaries at York. “These awards are an attempt to provide talented students with post-secondary opportunities. They work to counteract some of the barriers students who are racialized or who have lower incomes may have encountered, and for leaders, they are tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.” 

For 2022-2023, 24 domestic awards and 16 international awards were given out. A committee reviews student statements and supporting documentation, creating a shortlist before final decisions are made. In addition to choosing students who meet the criteria, the committee aims to distribute awards across faculties and geographic regions. 

“The bar for these awards is high,” Warner said. “Many students face challenges, but we are looking for something exceptional.” 

For example, one of the awardees wrote about being sexually exploited and abused as a child. Today, however, this student is an advocate for other victims of abuse and volunteers for organizations that promote mental health awareness or support sexual or domestic abuse survivors.  

Another awardee spoke about finding movement a wonderful antidote to anxiety and they decided to focus on helping injured athletes balance their mental and physical health needs. A third discussed a belief in the arts and humanities as a catalyst for change, something reflected in the volunteer work they continue to do. Finally, a student who suffered from childhood cancer created an organization called Project Lightbox, which puts together and distributes personal Lego projects to hospitalized and less privileged children on a quarterly basis, a project that has earned awards and brought smiles to young faces. 

The Tentanda Via Award recognizes students who have overcome such challenges, as well as those whose leadership can help to galvanize the student body toward making an impact.