Patricia Collins

Patricia Collins stands on rocks at Cattle Point in 2019
Patricia often returns to Victoria to enjoy the ocean views (pictured here at Cattle Point in 2019)

A pivotal email at a pivotal time

In July 2020, Patricia Collins sat on a rocky section of the beach at Cadboro Bay, calmed by the familiar scene of ocean, sailboats and mountain ranges. It was the kind of summer day in Victoria that makes you wonder why you would ever leave this place. Which was hard for Patricia, because her car was packed full with belongings from the condo she had just sold. A pay-cut during the pandemic had been the catalyst that broke one more tie with this city she loved so much.

Patricia had lived in Victoria until she was eleven, and moved back here as soon as possible to attend the University of Victoria. Over the next decade, she completed a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, a post-graduate teaching diploma and a Master’s in Earth and Ocean Sciences—all through UVic. Although her life and career was now in Fort McMurray, she held on to her property in Victoria and returned every summer to connect with family, friends and former professors. With a second wave of the pandemic on its way, Patricia wasn’t sure when she would next visit. She sipped on her tea, looked out to the horizon, and—in that moment—decided to focus on looking forward, not back.

The email

Just then, a notification showed on her phone—a new email from the University of Victoria. Patricia opened and scanned the message, which was an appeal for alumni to contribute to research projects through the Research Accelerator Fund. Over the years, Patricia had donated to student awards, outreach programs in science and education, even the Indigenous Language Revitalization program. She gave mostly because she’d received a scholarship as an undergrad and it had made such a difference to her success. Until now, she hadn’t considered supporting research.

Why support a research seed fund?

It made sense to her in so many ways. She loved being immersed in the research environment as a graduate student. She admired the way her supervisors had juggled lab work, teaching and managing research budgets. But she also saw how much work they put into obtaining funding. Patricia could appreciate how the new UVic seed fund would help researchers get projects off the ground. She knew of many researchers at UVic seeking creative solutions to problems. This email spoke of a way to pool resources from many—to help give researchers a clearer path forward.

Hope and community

But more importantly, the email spoke to Patricia about hope and community, at a time when she really needed that message. She didn’t want to sever all ties to Victoria. Making this gift offered her a new way to maintain connection, and a way to contribute to something positive during this time.

Patricia was feeling sad that the pandemic had upended her life. At that moment her clearest thought was “I just want this to end”. She wanted to help bring the suffering to a close quicker, not only for her, but everyone impacted. And she felt the email was showing her a way. She clicked on the link and made a donation.

Patricia Collins sitting at the UVic fountain in her convocation regalia in 1997
Patricia Collins on her convocation day at UVic in 1997