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by Jacqui Terry-Carroll, Senior Philanthropic Advisor & Theron Shaw (Year 16, 1991/USA), Senior Philanthropic Advisory & Campaign Director  

As Alum and proud father of twin two-year-olds, Rodolfo “Frijo” Zavaleta (Year 16, 1991/Costa Rica) said recently, “It was important to me to give back to Pearson — had it not been for the College, I would not be where I am today.” 

Rodolfo, together with many of his Year 16 peers, was talking about his commitment to raise College Year Scholarship funds that help support deserving students who may need a financial leg up to help them attend Pearson College UWC.

Like Rodolfo, many of us who attended Pearson in earlier years benefited from the founders’ commitment to a “full scholarship policy.” We came from countries, families and circumstances that would never have imagined sending us off to school thousands of miles from home. Looking back, many of us still point to those two years as transformative, opening doors that would never have been available without that experience. 

Some years ago, the College Board of Directors made the difficult but necessary decision to adopt a “means-testing” approach, awarding scholarships to families based on their capacity to contribute towards their student’s education. This decision came after many years of deliberation and was ultimately triggered by the withdrawal of scholarship funding previously made available by the Canadian federal government and most provinces and territories.

During the first 20 years of the College’s history, federal and provincial/territorial government funding supported 50-60 students each year. Today, the reality is that this type of funding only supports five or six students annually.

Another important factor taken under consideration was the fact that many private donors had over the years expressed concern about the prospect of making gifts to support students whose families had the means and willingness to pay tuition fees.  

Today, Pearson still has a fair and, in fact, one of the most generous scholarship rates in the UWC movement. In a typical year, the College awards full scholarships to about 50 per cent of students, partial scholarships to 30 to 40 per cent of students and accepts full tuition from 10-20% of our students’ families.  

Alumni Step Up for Class Year Scholarships

Now, like Rodolfo, many alumni around the world are rallying around the cause of helping the College to maintain as generous a scholarship commitment as possible. Alumni from individual class years are organizing to support Class Year Scholarships.

Class Year Scholarships are simply the gathering of a particular Pearson class year around support for a current student’s scholarship at the College. Together with their peers, by helping the College increase the number of annual scholarships that can be offered to deserving young people from across the globe, alumni are paying forward the opportunity they had in the past.

Rodolfo, together with his Year 16 classmates, have proudly supported a full scholarship for three years in a row and counting! Congratulations and thank you to you and your many alumni peers from across the decades who are paying it forward!

If you would like to learn more about class scholarship initiatives at the College, please contact Jacqui Terry-Carroll at Thank you for your continuing commitment to help deserving young people from across Canada and around the world.