“I received one for $700,” recalls Eavis, who enrolled at Dalhousie University in 1981. “That may not seem like much, but tuition at the time was $1,018, so it covered approximately 70 per cent of the cost.”
Opportunities through education
Eavis, who later returned to Dalhousie in his 30s as a special status student, never forgot that kindness or how it helped open doors for him academically and professionally. Now, the retired naval officer is looking to do the same for a new generation of students by starting a scholarship of his own. Created in 2010, the Blair Eavis Scholarship will provide financial assistance to graduates of any Atlantic Canadian high school who are enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies at Dalhousie.
“When I was at Dal, I met students from across the region and the country and got to know a lot about them and their provinces,” explains Eavis. “So I thought it would be nice to have the scholarship open to as many people as possible.”
Though Eavis’ intention is to ease the financial burdens of earning post-secondary education, sharing the Dalhousie experience with others was a major motivator in creating the scholarship.
“I had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends, and learned skills such as time management that really helped me in my career. I just wanted to lighten the load for a student so they can have the same experiences and opportunities I did.”
Setting an example
Given the significant rise in university tuition and expenses since he first arrived at Dalhousie, Eavis would like to see fellow alumni follow his example.
“Finances are one of the most stressful things about post-secondary education, so any assistance makes life easier for students. I’ve been spreading the word to friends and encouraging them to make a donation. The hardest part is getting started, but once you commit, you feel good about it.”
As for students who receive assistance from the fund, Eavis thinks it might inspire them to look at ways they can give back. “I still think about how lucky I was to receive a scholarship, so I hope it motivates them to do something similar for the university, or the community. That’s the real goal of the fund.”