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Opening doors across the globe

For Meghan Wilson, donor support provided the opportunity to go far. 

A woman with curly hair sits on rocks by the ocean smiling at the camera while the sunsets behind her.

Meghan Wilson’s dream of studying abroad became a reality the day she opened her email to see a scholarship announcement waiting for her. “I always wanted to go on an exchange, but I never knew if I could pull it off financially,” she says. Meghan grew up in the government care system and has been working since the age of 14 and living independently since age 16. 

Studying abroad and finding herself

After some confusion and concern about possibly missing an award deadline, she was shocked to receive the notification a month before she would have to leave for the exchange. “When I realized what was happening, that I was actually going to be able to go, I freaked out. I’m so, so grateful,” she says. 

In January, she moved to Paris to study digital marketing at EM Normandie - Paris Campus. She’s the first UVic student to take part in this new campus partnership. When the semester ends, Meghan plans to complete her final co-op placement in Europe. “I feel like I’m doing a lot better here,” she says. “It’s been great to break from whatever routines and habits I was in back home. I’m getting to meet new people and being pushed outside my comfort zone.”

A woman with curly hair walking on cobble stone street
Meghan Wilson during her time abroad in Paris, France.
Juggling school, work, and business  

Meghan is neurodivergent and was working at maximum capacity while completing her degree. "It was really hard to focus on school when I had so much work to do," she admitted. "Especially being someone with ADHD, it was non-stop, which is sometimes good because I work well under pressure, but it was also very overwhelming and a crash-and-burn type situation."

As part of her BCom degree, Meghan chose the Entrepreneurship specialization. Inspired by the success of a nail technician with a similar background to hers, Meghan started an at-home nail business from scratch during her third year. Many skills that she learned through the program, like networking, money management, research, and brand strategy, have contributed to her success. “The entrepreneurship program showed me it’s okay to charge people for the service I’m providing and that I can incorporate social sustainability as a core value in my business,” she says. With a heart for giving back and a desire to mentor other young women in challenging financial situations, Meghan dreams of one day opening a beauty salon that focuses on social sustainability. “When I think about doing business for good, it’s all about community to me. Doing business so the community can thrive, all walks of life are respected, and people are treated right.”

A world of difference

Meghan has received several scholarships and awards that recognize her hard work and enabled her to take the opportunity to study abroad, including the Michaela Tokarski Entrepreneurship Award and Lee Hayes Scholarship. To Meghan, this support represents more than just money. “It took a huge weight off my shoulders and meant I could complete school at the rate I wanted to do it. It made a world of difference and otherwise would have been really, really tough.”

Meghan wants donors to know that “What you’re doing is making a big difference. What you’re doing is putting more people that come from hardship into positions of power so that they can help others, because they know what it's like. It’s kind of a circular effect. Now that I'm in a better position to get a good job, I'm able to make these connections and I have the confidence to talk to people in business. I want to return the gift that was given to me. And hopefully, that'll just continue. I'd like to just emphasize that I think what you’re doing is working. And thank you.”

To read more about the impact of donor generosity, visit the 2023 UVic Annual Report to Donors.

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