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“I believe in you”

Feeling the faith from donors, engineering student Favour Okpali was inspired to go after her dreams.

Favour Okpali walking in downtown Toronto.

Favour Okpali received the Teoh Family ‘3259’ Award for Black engineering students and is now fulfilling her dream at Microsoft in downtown Toronto.

Favour Okpali literally screamed and jumped for joy when she heard the news – she had received an award. “I was in shock! I called my mom and she started screaming too,” says the student-athlete.

Favour’s academic experience at Western has been far from typical due to the pandemic. “My family lives in Toronto, so when school switched to online learning, I moved back home for my second year.”

For her third year, she was able to attend university in London once again. “I was so happy to be back on campus, but now I had the additional expense of food and rent, which I didn’t have at my parents’ house.”

To her great surprise, Favour applied for and received the Teoh Family ‘3259’ Award for Black engineering students. “I’m so grateful Western has awards like this. It’s so easy for minorities to feel like they don’t belong. Receiving an award like this reminds me that I do.”

Donor and Western engineering alum, Daniel Teoh, established this scholarship in honour of his best friend who passed away too soon. “It was very important to me to do this. Looking across Canada at the availability of scholarships for Black students — it’s clear more work needs to be done. I am very pleased Favour was a recipient of this award and am grateful I can contribute to black students having the opportunity to attend a great school.”

Taking a chance

Prior to university, Favour was quite unsure where to go after high school so she “took a chance” on engineering and discovered her love of coding. “I was hooked. I loved programming and problem solving. I was going to be a software engineer!”

For the past two summers, Favour has interned at Microsoft in the heart of downtown Toronto, gaining incredible work-life experience.

Favour is still as grateful today as the day she received the award. “It gave me the faith in myself that I needed. Knowing that someone would donate to my success – there really are no words.” As Favour expertly navigates Toronto, she reflects on the award and what it meant to her. “It kept me motivated throughout the year because I knew someone believed in me. I hope one day I will be able to give back and help other Western students – the way the Teoh family helped me.”