By Jennifer Lewandowski

Not many people are lucky enough to get to pursue their childhood dreams. But that is exactly what the future Dr. Krystal Stewart is doing, thanks to generosity and support provided through donor-sponsored scholarships and bursaries.

Krystal is a second-year student attending Dalhousie Medical School in Saint John, New Brunswick. While she always felt supported by her immediate family as she oriented herself toward this ambitious career path, access to the resources she would need to get there was limited. Raised by a single mother who suffered from multiple health conditions that prevented her from maintaining a stable job and a steady income, Krystal always knew she would have to find her own way to finance her education.

“I had to provide for myself through minimum-wage jobs, starting at the age of 14. Unfortunately, that was never enough to self-fund my way through university,” she says, reflecting on the obstacles she has overcome to get where she is today.

The road to a career in medicine is notoriously challenging. Not only is it a long and academically demanding journey, but there is also a considerable financial burden. Medical students can graduate with debt in excess of $150,000, saddling them with significant stress during the critical foundational stages of their career.

Support from a stranger helped to reignite childhood conviction

Faced with this reality, Krystal began to question whether she belonged in medicine, wondering how she would fit in with students whose inherited resources meant they did not share these concerns to the same extent that she did. But help came from the support of a stranger.

“I have been very fortunate to receive a contribution which helped cover my medical school tuition almost entirely,” says a grateful Krystal. This support did more than relieve her financial worries – it also helped her rediscover the conviction of her younger self.

Stewart E. Allen Bursary opened the door

Krystal was the recipient of the Stewart E. Allen Bursary in Medicine, created by Stewart Allen with an aim to help deserving students who are qualified to enter medical school overcome financial obstacles related to that pursuit. Although he did not receive a university education himself before going on to find success in the business world, Allen firmly believes that this path should be attainable to anyone who wants to pursue it, regardless of their ability to finance it themselves. The bursary is celebrating 10 years of connecting students like Krystal with resources and opportunities they may otherwise not have had access to.

Thanks to this support, Krystal gradually began to trust that she was on the right course. Anxiety and self-doubt were replaced with confidence and self-realization. She gave herself permission to feel proud of the opportunities she had worked so hard to secure.

“To have the support of not only my family, but other people whom I have never met, has been so rewarding. This financial support means a lot to me and reminds me that there are folks out there who want to see me – and people like me – succeed.”