A new scholarship created by a former University of Toronto Scarborough commerce student will support first-generation Canadians in the management co-op program at U of T Scarborough.
Leo van den Thillart was a child when he immigrated to Canada with his parents in the early 1970s. Although he learned English and assimilated easily into Canadian culture, his parents faced language barriers and worked hard to establish a new life here, he says. His $40,000 donation to create the van den Thillart Family Scholarship in Management recognizes the challenges new immigrants face and the contribution they make to Canadian society. “The success of immigrants is the lifeblood of Canada,” he says.
An informal poll of first-year students in the U of T Scarborough Management Co-op Program (excluding international students) found that seven in 10 were born outside of Canada. “By supporting the academic achievements and leadership of students in the co-op program, many of whom were born outside Canada, this gift is a tangible recognition of the strength of our diversity,” says Franco Vaccarino, principal, U of T Scarborough and vice president, U of T.
After studying commerce at U of T Scarborough, van den Thillart completed an executive MBA at Harvard University. He is currently the global co-head of the private funds group of Bear Stearns Asset Management in London, England. Van den Thillart credits U of T with providing him with the fundamentals for a successful career, and now hopes to extend that benefit to others. “I am blessed for the opportunities I have received and I feel that it’s important to give back to the community,” he says. “I believe in education and I am proud to be associated with U of T.”
The van den Thillart Family Scholarship in Management, worth about $1,600, will be awarded to an upper-year student in the management co-op program who was born outside of Canada but is a citizen or permanent resident.