Post-secondary education offers more than opportunities — it also transforms lives and communities. The CST Foundation provides access to education for all Canadians, regardless of their background.
While higher education is shown to offer more career opportunities and greater earnings potential, studies also show that post-secondary education can transform not only lives, but communities.
With rising inflation and increasing tuition fees, coupled with growing inequality and stagnant wages, fewer Canadians have access to education and training, and one out of every two students graduate with an average debt of $28,000, according to the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
The CST Foundation is at the forefront of supporting and enabling access to higher education for all Canadians, regardless of their background. Through financial assistance, the company has helped over 600,000 families access post-secondary education and awarded over $2 million in scholarships and bursaries to more than 200 Canadian post-secondary students.
Every student should have access to post-secondary education
Affordability is a significant factor for students and their families in making the decision to pursue post-secondary education. While two thirds of Canadian youth have some funds put aside for higher learning, according to Statistics Canada, many students still can’t afford to earn a degree or diploma.
The CST Foundation began in 1960 and provides a path that enables every student to pursue their dream career. Through its awards and bursaries program young Canadians can reach their full potential through post-secondary education.
The Founders’ Awards are offered to students who have benefited from a CST Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and are starting post-secondary studies. In 2023, the organization awarded 14 Founders’ Awards at $7,000 each.
The Bursary Awards are awarded to students starting post-secondary education and need financial assistance to do so. The Bursary Awards aren’t limited to university degrees but encompass diplomas and apprenticeships as well. In 2023, the organization awarded 25 Bursary Awards at $6,000 each.
Tasha Kara is one such student who received a Founders’ Award in 2021. Mediaplanet sat down with her to learn more about her post-secondary experience.
How has your journey with post-secondary education been?
When I was two years old, my grandmother and my mom made the decision to start an RESP with CST for me. Together, their contributions helped me to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in 2017, where I double majored in International Development and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Fast forward to 2021, and I was humbled to receive the CST Founders’ Award. In 2023, I gained my Master of Public Health degree from the University of Toronto, with a focus on social, behavioural, and global health. During this time, I was fortunate to undertake two practicums. The first was with a Uganda based non-profit organization, Afya na Haki (Ahaki) which explored equitable access to vaccines, and the second was with a consulting firm, SHIFT Collaborative, which focused on researching the population health impacts of climate change and health system adaptation strategies in B.C.
Today, I’m back with the Provincial Health Services Authority in B.C., promoted into a strategic role that specializes in mitigating health emergencies and preparing for climate change impacts on B.C.’s health system.
What or who inspired you to pursue post-secondary education?
The driving force behind my pursuit of my master’s degree in public health was a sense of frustration and curiosity. Attending undergraduate classes heightened my awareness of the systemic challenges inherent in women’s health and the realization that access to a healthy life was inequitable.
My pursuit of post-secondary education was also inspired by my grandmother, a resilient woman who, despite not having the opportunity to pursue formal education herself, instilled in me the importance of always learning.
How has the CST Foundation helped you along your post-secondary education journey?
Though I was delighted to have been accepted to the program at the University of Toronto, there were significant financial realities to consider, such as increased living costs. While I worked part-time to pay for my studies, it wasn’t enough.
While the CST award assisted with tuition and living expenses, it also meant more than financial freedom. It gave me the opportunity to focus on my studies.
What advice would you give to other students considering attending post-secondary school for the first time?
Your time in post-secondary education is not just about acquiring knowledge but also about cultivating a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability, and building a network that will serve you well beyond the classroom. The critical thinking skills you learn will help you make informed decisions and approach life differently. The intellectual freedom gained through education expands your mind and gives you the tools to navigate the complexities of the world with greater autonomy and understanding.
Embrace curiosity, approach your educational journey with an open mind, build relationships, and engage with your community, peers, professionals, and staff. These connections can open doors to opportunities, collaborations, and a broader understanding of your field.
And if you ever find yourself in a position of power or in a spot where you can help someone else, don’t hesitate. So many people supported me along the way, and my plan is to keep that chain going by supporting others. It’s not just about me — it’s about recognizing the strength of community and making sure that support and opportunities are shared.
Click here for your chance to win a $10,000 CST RESP with the Inspire A Dream Contest*. For contest details, visit our contest page. *No purchase necessary. See official rules for details.