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Bridging the gap

Alumna's generosity key factor in equation for students' success

December 15, 2015

Bridging the gap
Tiffany Kralka and Helen Ngo are both recipients of awards established by Barbara Newbegin

On first meeting them, Helen Ngo and Tiffany Kralka don’t appear to have much in common.

Helen spends her days in the world of numbers, having accepted a position as a data science and business development analyst with a major telecommunications company following graduation in April, 2016.

Tiffany is a talented pianist who has wanted to be a high school music teacher since the age of 12 and plans to attend teacher’s college.

Although their interests and paths differ, these fourth-year students share a passion for learning, a drive for success and a gratitude to the same donor whose two very different undergraduate awards have helped them to pursue their dreams.

“Financial concerns were a major consideration for me. I work part-time and receiving the Barbara Newbegin Award in Mathematics gave me the security of being able to take a few more hours off of work to focus on my school work and to not have to worry as much,” says Helen.

Tiffany, who works part-time as a piano teacher and volunteers with her local youth group, says receiving the Jack Newbegin Award in Music helped make it possible for her to attend a world-class music education conference in Chicago – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will serve her well in her teaching career in the future.

“My experience in university has been a little more challenging than I was expecting, but I’m so glad I came here,” she says. “My knowledge has grown so much and I’ve learned a lot about teaching that I will pass on to my future students, along with my love of music.”

Barbara Newbegin, BA’71, MA’72, the donor who generously established these awards in 2013, says the degrees she received from Western in mathematics set her up for success in her career in government. She hopes earmarking an award for a female student in an honors mathematics program will encourage more women to enter the currently male-dominated field.

Establishing the awards also provided an opportunity to honour her father’s memory and her family’s commitment to giving back, she says. “When I was growing up, my parents were both involved in the community and volunteered their time. They showed me how important it is to give back and it was always a part of our family’s way of life. My dad was a music lover who also loved supporting musicians. He was very involved as a volunteer in supporting students at Western.”

Grateful for the impact that this support has had on their lives, Tiffany and Helen both hope to pay it forward in the future and continue to honour Miss Newbegin’s family’s legacy of giving back.

“Whatever stage of life you’re in, there is always a way to give back in some way, whether with your time or with financial support. There are probably a lot more students struggling than people know about. It’s an important dialogue to have but it’s not always easy to talk about,” says Helen.

Miss Newbegin hopes future recipients will get the most possible out of their Western experience. “I want young people to have access to quality education that will launch them on a lifetime of self-directed learning in personal, professional and leadership development. If we don’t help the next generation get a good start on their education journey, who will be the leaders of the future?”

For more information about supporting student awards, contact Carole Stinson, Executive Director, Development Programs (519.661.2111, ext. 85696 or or visit

This article appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of Impact Western
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