Alyssa & Puja

As 2018 quickly winds down, we invite you to follow along with us as we share the stories of our amazing donors and the people their generosity has benefited. Over the course of the next month, we will share a weekly story about how one donor and one gift can have an infinite impact on the McMaster community.

Our first story is about Alyssa, a donor, and Puja, a bursary recipient. Below they share their McMaster stories and the reasons why they recognize the importance of the support that donors so generously provide.


McMaster University has a special place in my heart. It was my first home away from home as an international student. A place where I made new friends. An avenue for learning that formed and crystallized my values as a young adult. Its education taught me how to think, to see myself in relation to the world and most of all, to be empathetic in face of adversity.

Giving to McMaster is my way of contributing to the many efforts that make the university a special place to all students. It started with small steps. My first donation to the university was modest. But every year, as my earnings increased, so did my gift. Now, my yearly contribution has become an integral part of who I am as a person — and it always will.

Alyssa Lai, BA (Hon) Communications and Theatre & Film Studies ‘12


I fell in love with McMaster’s campus during my undergraduate degree. McMaster truly is a leading force in innovation and research and I’m proud to now be earning my graduate degree at such a supportive, research-intensive university.

I am currently a third-year doctoral student in the Medical Sciences Program, and my research focuses on women’s reproductive health. This is an area of research I am passionate about because I am an advocate for women’s rights. I used to volunteer for the YWCA, and doing this research allows me to bridge my two passions: science and social equality.

Completing my PhD has been an exciting journey, especially because I am a first-generation university student. My parents do not have post-secondary education, but they came to Canada to give my siblings and I the opportunity to succeed in anything we wanted.

My PhD journey has also been inspired by my supervisor, Dr. Charu Kaushic, who has helped me gain confidence in my ability as a researcher. I have been fortunate to present my research at 15 conferences to date. Dr. Kaushic has also inspired me to mentor young women to pursue STEM careers. I am fortunate to volunteer as a workshop facilitator at McMaster’s Children & Youth University and mentor undergraduate students through McMaster’s Mentor Match Program.

However, as a graduate student, at times managing finances can be difficult, and any additional financial help makes a big difference. For this reason, donors have been an integral part of my journey. I have been fortunate to receive several scholarships and bursaries during my time at McMaster.

Your continued generosity lets me know that the work I do is appreciated and that there are people who understand how much financial support helps students like me. Your generosity pushes me forward and gives me the motivation to continue to pursue a career in science and to support the next generation of young scientists. I am truly thankful for your support.

Puja Bagri, BSc Biochemistry ’13, PhD Candidate


To make your gift and have an infinite impact at McMaster click here.


If you have any comments or questions, please contact giving@mcmaster.ca.