Why Giving Matters


October 20, 2015

Grads like Vanessa D’Souza are making bequests and planned gifts that will benefit future McGill students.

Growing up in a working class neighborhood in Toronto, Vanessa D’Souza, BSc(PT)’98, credits her family with the values she holds dear. “My parents taught me the importance of giving back and being mindful of the generosity of those before me.”

Vanessa’s parents came to Canada from Goa, India, during a wave of new immigration in the early 1970s – drawn by the Canadian promise of living in safety, obtaining an exceptional education and having access to healthcare.

“They came without much money. Everything they earned was through hard work and education,” says Vanessa who, from a young age, was encouraged to study hard and give back to the community. In high school, her volunteer efforts at the Red Cross, local hospitals and various youth leadership organizations earned her the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award.

Encouraged by a close friend, Vanessa applied to McGill, and was thrilled to receive a James McGill Scholarship, awarded on the basis of her academic standing, involvement in extracurricular activities, and leadership in the community.

Soon after arriving at McGill, Vanessa started volunteering at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) which was down the street from her residence. It was here where she discovered what was to be her calling: physiotherapy.

Today, Vanessa lives in Calgary with her two young sons and enjoys a successful career as a physiotherapist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, where she specializes in working with children with developmental and neurological difficulties. She also finds time to volunteer at a number of community organizations.

“The scholarship I received changed the course of my life, and now I am able to pay it forward,” says Vanessa. As part of her legacy gift, she has made a bequest to support bursaries for students with demonstrated financial need and good academic standing, with a preference for those involved in extracurricular and community activities.

While she admits she is young to be planning her estate, Vanessa wanted to show her deep appreciation to McGill, by making a bequest that would give students the same opportunity she was given. “I want my gift to offer students peace of mind, so that they can focus on getting the best quality education.”

Vanessa also wants to set an example for her sons, as her parents did for her. “Through this bequest I hope to encourage them to live to their highest potential. This is my gift to them.”

Learn more about how you can make your own bequest from the Bequests and Planned Gifts office.