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Eric Saarvala, BA'95

Western Makes a Difference | August 30, 2011

Eric Saarvala, BA’95, hopes to inspire fellow Western alumni to give back and maintain a lifelong relationship with their alma mater.

“The relationship with your university doesn’t have to end at graduation,” notes the former Toronto Western Alumni Branch President and current member on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. “I stay involved with Western because it is clear that they want to stay involved with me.”

Saarvala has been volunteering for years at Toronto events for Western alumni and recently stepped forward with a personal donation to ensure the Toronto Western Alumni Branch Bursary would continue to support a student from the Toronto area entering first year at Western.

“In a time when tuition fees are rising, students need additional options for financial support,” he says. “It was important for me to support the Bursary because I wanted to make it more affordable for a student from my home town to receive the best education and have the best student experience at the best university.”

The Toronto Western Alumni Branch Bursary endowment was created through funds raised at Toronto Branch events. The first student bursary was awarded in 1998-99. However, because the endowment wasn’t fully funded, it was in danger of closing, until Saarvala brought it back to life.

He has committed to contributing to the fund indefinitely and hopes others will join him in bringing the endowment to a level where it will be self-sustaining. This means the interest earned on the endowment will be enough to fully fund the bursary each year for many years to come. The majority of Saarvala’s ongoing monthly gifts will go towards the endowment and a portion will be expendable, ensuring the annual award will continue to be given out until the endowment is fully funded.

“In receiving the best education, we all benefitted from the charitable giving of previous generations whether through scholarships, bursaries, chairs, programs, lectureships, equipment and new and renovated buildings,” says Saarvala, who has been working in Advancement Services at the University of Toronto for the last 12 years and just recently accepted a post at Scotia Private Client Group. “We need to pay it forward and ensure that future students continue to get the best education and more.”


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