Alumni donor wants to help students find their path

Software engineer who graduated in 2002 says studies at Augustana set him up for career success.

Keri Sweetman - 15 November 2023

Robin Rondeau

When Robin Rondeau, ’02 BSc, was graduating from high school and looking for a good computer science program in the late 1990s, one school stood out for him – Augustana University College in Camrose.

Its program had a strong reputation, with good professors and manageable class sizes. The college was located in a smaller city, not much bigger than his hometown of Bonnyville. And Rondeau was offered an entrance scholarship from a local business to help him in his first year.

Rondeau, who graduated from Augustana in 2002 with a bachelor of science in computing science, says he’s never forgotten how much that early financial assistance helped. Eight years ago, he decided to become a regular monthly donor to the Augustana Financial Aid and Student Awards Fund.

“I thought I would give back in that way, to help someone else out the way that I was helped.”

Rondeau remembers a tight community of students during his four years at Augustana, “great people, great professors.” By the time he got to his third- and fourth-level computer science classes, there were usually fewer than 15 students in a class, with lots of small-group projects that “really set me up for working on projects in the real world.”

After graduation, it was initially hard to find a job in IT, so Rondeau moved to Calgary and worked for a fire and safety company, later joining a drilling monitoring firm where he could use some of his computer science skills. In 2006, he joined Clarity, a web development company in Calgary, where he worked for more than 14 years. 

Makayla Haag
Augustana student Makayla Haag (Photo: supplied).

During his time at Clarity, he and his now-wife (they met at Augustana) moved back to Camrose to be closer to her family. They have two boys, aged 10 and 13.

Rondeau now works remotely from Camrose as a principal software engineer for Microsoft, after the giant technology company acquired a smaller Edmonton data migration firm he’d joined in 2021.

Rondeau remembers what it was like to come out of university with uncertain job prospects and a big student loan, which took years to pay off. 

“I’ve been very fortunate,” he says. “Now I’m working at Microsoft, doing very well. Hopefully, I can help someone else find their path.” 

Current student Makayla Haag’s choice to study at Augustana (a faculty of the University of Alberta since 2004) sounds a lot like Rondeau’s. She too comes from a small Alberta community, Kitscoty, so she was also looking for a university experience with a small-town feel. She had high marks in high school, helping her win an Augustana Faculty Gold Standard Scholarship as a first-year student in 2022/23, which sealed her decision to attend Augustana.

Now in her second year of a five-year bachelor of science and bachelor of education program, Haag says she is grateful for the scholarship, funded by donors like Rondeau through the Augustana Financial Aid and Students Awards program.

“I’d like to thank the donors for their generous donations, which really helped set my journey in education and gave me that lift, that boost that I needed to get into university and accomplish my goals,” says Haag, who will take the last two years of her combined degree at the U of A’s North Campus in Edmonton.

The financial support she received last year allowed her to focus on her first-year studies without having to find a part-time job to help pay for her education. Winning the scholarship “gave me kind of a backbone in the first year to have the confidence to be in university. OK, I can do this.”