Holland College | Student Stories
Home > Holland College Foundation > Student Stories

The impact that donors make can be seen every day, throughout every college campus and centre. It can be seen in the gratitude from our students who have received financial aid; it can be seen in the confidence of our students who are fully prepared to enter the workforce, having been immersed in enhanced learning environments; it can be seen in the academic and personal success of our students who have benefited from enriched services and campuses college wide.

Read about some of our many Holland College students and how donor giving is impacting their education, their families, and their communities.

Barbara Kalil

International Hospitality Management, Class of 2021


Barbara Kalil
“Receiving financial support meant being able to buy food that we needed, and it meant feeling less pressure.” ~ Barbara Kalil

International student Barbara Kalil and her husband Gabriel Rodrigues, both from Brazil, dreamed of moving abroad to start a new, secure life in a community that aligned with their values and beliefs and offered a high quality of living. 

“Canada was our first choice. We loved the economy, the culture, and the politics. During our research, we came across Prince Edward Island and then I found out that Holland College offered a tourism program that was exactly what I wanted. It was a perfect fit,” said Barb. “The more we researched, the more we fell in love with the pictures and the way of life – we had a ‘crush’ on P.E.I.!”

After saving their earnings for two full years, they made their dream a reality and relocated to the Island in 2019. Barb is now a proud graduate of the International Hospitality Management program, Class of 2021.

“I believe that hospitality is an art, and can change people's lives, which is why I take my studies and my work so seriously,” said Barb. “My hope is that, one day, I can bring a great service to people, capable of changing and making their lives better, using everything I have learned at Holland College.”

Barb is grateful for many things in her life, including the scholarships, bursaries, and awards that helped her with her educational costs. She received the Dunne Group Award and the Victoria McMillan Memorial Award, and was one of five finalists short-listed from 51 nominations for the 2021 Earn a Car award for which students are nominated by faculty and staff based on merit, character, and academic achievement.

“During our first year in P.E.I., we almost didn't go out anywhere, to restaurants or anything because we were so afraid of not having enough money if something went wrong,” explained Barb. “Receiving these awards meant being able to buy food that we needed, and it meant feeling less pressure.”

Jill Kendall

Photography & Videography, Class of 2021


Jill Kendall
“Without the support I received, the financial burden of my educational pursuit to realize my dreams and goals would be far greater.” ~ Jill Kendall

Jill Kendall, from Lewisporte, Newfoundland, said that deciding to return to school in her 30s was a very intimidating experience. But after 15 years as an emergency room nurse, and having experienced work-related trauma, she ultimately decided it was time to make a major change.

Jill has a passion for photography, which she fell in love with while chasing the Northern Lights in Yellowknife several years ago. She took a leap of faith and relocated to P.E.I. to take Holland College’s Photography and Videography program.

“It was not a decision made lightly, but rather, took careful calculation,” said Kendall. “This included a period of self-reflection following the passing of my mother and consideration of the impending financial strain.”

Just a few weeks into the program Jill had never felt so excited and was eager every day to learn and practice the craft of photography. This affirmed for her that she had made the right decision in beginning a new career path.

“Without the support I received, the financial burden of my educational pursuit to realize my dreams and goals would be far greater,” said Kendall. “I aspire to open my own portrait studio and share images that evoke thought, dialogue, emotion, and imagination, as well as promote positivity and togetherness; both of which are vital in our current and challenging times.”

Jill received the 2021 Erskine Smith Memorial Award, and was one of five finalists short-listed from 51 nominations for the 2021 Earn a Car award, for which students are nominated by faculty and staff based on merit, character, and academic achievement.

Shawn Fraser

Sport and Leisure Management, Class of 2021


Shawn Fraser

“I will forever be thankful for the financial support I received to help me launch my new career on the right foot.” ~ Shawn Fraser

Shawn Fraser from Three Rivers, P.E.I., a single father of five, graduated from the Sport and Leisure Management program in 2021. He enrolled in the program after a lengthy career in the construction industry, during which he also managed a 20-hour per week volunteer commitment to minor football. Shawn decided to return to school to strengthen his knowledge of the business of sport, which would compliment his coaching and administration background.

“It was daunting going back to school after 16 years, but I’m so glad I did it,” said Shawn. “I’m motivated by my children. I want to provide for them and make the best life possible for them.”

Shawn plans to further his education by obtaining a degree in communications. He also plans to become certified as a learning facilitator through the National Coaching Certification Program so that he can help others develop their coaching skills.

“To me, teaching and coaching are two of the most noble professions there are,” said Shawn. “I plan to pursue a full-time career building amazing individuals through the power of sport.”

Shawn said that for him, and many others, financial support is not just important while attending school full-time, it is essential.

“I know that I would not have graduated this spring without help from financial supporters,” said Shawn. “I put everything I had into the last two years at Holland College, and every dollar had to be budgeted for something.”

Shawn was one of five finalists short-listed from 51 nominations for the 2021 Earn a Car award, for which students are nominated by faculty and staff based on merit, character, and academic achievement.

“I will forever be thankful for the financial support I received to help me launch my new career on the right foot,” said Shawn. “I am excited to transition from Holland College student to working professional on a new career path.”