Alumna takes the $50 test and chooses to help students in need

    Julie Kim wants to help engineering student ssucceed

    By Richard Cairney on May 1, 2014

    Edmonton—Memories of our experiences as students invoke powerful emotions, encapsulating the joy of discovery and the bonds of true friendship. The journey from student to engineer is long and challenging but by our own determination and ingenuity and with the support of friends and family we reach our goals and reap the rewards.

    This journey is where Julie Kim (Civil ’12) found the inspiration to establish a bursary for students experiencing financial hardship. Every year for the next five years $1,500 is going to be awarded to an undergraduate Civil and Environmental Engineering Department student, either Canadian or international, facing financial challenges.

    The idea came to Kim after graduating and taking a job with Bird Construction. Walking the aisle of a store while shopping, Kim realized she had no qualms about spending $50 on a product she didn’t really need. If she’d still been a student, Kim would have looked at the price tag and walked away—$50 was a lot of money.

    Her co-workers, who she says “treat me like family,” also inspired her to help others. “I’d ask them for financial advice and they’d tell me not to get caught up with money, not to get trapped in a materialistic lifestyle and to be smart with my finances and to always remember the things I value—which are family, friends and education.”

    By establishing the “Ju Hee Kim Bursary,” Kim hopes to help students in need.

    “I know it’s not a lot but I want to help someone who’s passionate about engineering but having a hard time financially. I want people to see hope,” she says. “I thought if I started something like this I would remember the times when I was struggling. I don’t want to forget where I came from.”

    An international student from South Korea, Kim was required to pay the full price of tuition—$ 21,000 per year. The plan was that her family would cover the cost. But when Kim started school her father’s business went through financial hardships. Her education appeared to be in jeopardy. For the four years she studied engineering Kim lived with a family that deferred her rent until after she graduated.

    She took part-time jobs as a waitress, barista and in the retail sector. She landed a summer job with Stantec in Edmonton after completing her third year of studies, and then worked part time with the engineering firm during her final year.

    She still found time to volunteer with the Civil Engineering Students’ Society and served as president during her fourth year of studies. “My friends knew I was stressing out at times and they were always there to support me. I’m grateful to have friends like them. The experiences I got while participating in student club are priceless.”

    Establishing the bursary also helps Kim remember her friends—and it’s an emotional pat on the back she awards herself for sticking with her studies even through tough times.

    “I’m doing this because I don’t want someone to give up their dream. I want them to know there are lots of opportunities once you’re done school. I want to give them hope that there are good things out there and good people who are willing to help,” she says. “And I want to be thankful to myself for not giving up and for my friends and all the people who helped me stay positive.”