Thom Boivin, donor and U of R employee, smiles at the camera while holding his bicycle helmet.
Your Gifts. Their Futures.

Donor Spotlight: Thom Boivin

Student Gratitude Fuels the Spirit of Giving

Thomas Boivin at the U of R campus. Photo Credits: Ted Morris and Thom Boivin.Just as student awards have the power to change students’ lives, so, too, do students’ words of gratitude profoundly impact donors and inspire giving. One such person who can testify to this firsthand is Thom Boivin.

An employee of the University of Regina, Thom has had the frequent occasion of perusing letters written by students who are personally thanking donors who have played a key role in transforming their educational journey.

More than a decade ago one letter in particular, which came from a single-parent student who received a life-changing bursary, would leave a profound mark on him. After reading about how an award made all the difference in helping the single father balance raising a son on his own, while pursuing an undergraduate degree, Thom was struck by an inspiration.

“I noticed graduate students happened to be underrepresented when it came to awards, and then it hit me,” recalled Thom. “Why not create an equivalent bursary for single-parent students who are in graduate studies at the master's and doctoral levels?”

Thus, the University of Regina Graduate Single Parent Bursary was created in 2015. Subsequently, each year since then, one fortunate student facing financial need has received the donor-funded award of $1,320, which has helped cover tuition and living expenses for both them and their dependent children.

Fast forward eight years later. Among the beneficiaries of the award was Sabine Wecker, a full-time graduate student and single parent of two children, ages 12 and 17. She wrote this:

Dear Thom, I am in the midst of working towards a Master of Fine Arts degree. I decided to pursue a University degree in order to become employable beyond minimum wage and support my family as a single parent. We are a low-income family and every award, bursary, and scholarship is greatly appreciated, cherished, and needed. The bursary you made possible has given me more piece of mind, helped me thrive in my studies and research, and brought me one step closer to achieving my goals and giving my daughters a good life, despite our financial struggles. As well, you made me feel recognized and valued. Being a single parent is hard and often overlocked by society, and can make you feel invisible. Your support sends an important message of care, which says, “You are not alone. We see you”. Thank you, whole-heartedly! Sincerely, Sabine.

After Thom read Sabine’s moving words, his story was brought full circle to that pivotal moment that set his journey as a donor in motion years ago.

“Sabine’s letter left me utterly speechless, and it makes me all the more confident to give someone and their family not so much a ‘hand out’ as a ‘hand up’ in a meaningful way. At the end of the day, that makes me feel good,” said Thom. “I’m very fortunate to be able to help others however I can, and I believe the more we give, the bigger the difference we can make, and ultimately the better the world is.”

In response to increased student need and the heartfelt stories of students like Sabine, Thom increased the amount of the bursary to $1,820 during the 2022 Big Hearts Family Giving appeal. The increased bursary is effective Fall 2023.

Learn more about the annual Big Hearts Family Giving appeal and Graduate Scholarships and Funding.