Celebrating 10 Years of Student Success

Emily Hefferman
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program, and we are celebrating the milestone year by doubling the number of available scholarships, which means 20 amazing post-secondary students will receive a $5,000 scholarship for the upcoming fall 2021 semester. 

Ahead of the 2021 AbbVie IBD Scholarship deadline, we reconnected with recipients from the past nine years. Read on to see what an extraordinary 2014 scholarship recipient has to say about why they applied and tips for academic success!

Meet Emily Heffernan.

Emily is a member of the third class of inspiring and ambitious AbbVie IBD Scholarship recipients with a passion for giving back to their community. She received the scholarship in 2014 while completing the second year of her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at Queen’s University. After completing her degree and spending a few months working at Microsoft in the role of technical sales lead, Emily realized helping members of the community through a career in psychology was her true calling. Emily has since changed the trajectory of her career; she’s completed a Masters of Arts (MA) in Psychology at the University of Toronto and now in the midst of finishing her PhD in computational neuroscience.

We chatted with Emily to learn about her involvement with the IBD community, the role the scholarship played in supporting her post-secondary education, tips for applying, and her advice for students as they complete their degree while taking on IBD.

Here’s what Emily had to share:

What have you done or are currently doing with the Crohn’s and colitis community?

“While I was at Queen’s University, I was involved in the university’s Crohn’s and Colitis Committee. I helped run various initiatives, including creating care packages for students with IBD during exams, hosting IBD workshops, and organizing the Queen’s Gutsy Walk. I was also able to participate in the Kingston Gutsy Walk.”

How has receiving the AbbVie IBD Scholarship affected your journey?

“The scholarship alleviated some of the financial burden of pursuing post-secondary education and exposed me to a very supportive community. I didn’t know much about Crohn’s and Colitis Canada before applying to the scholarship, but I’ve since benefited from the information and webinars they provide. It was also incredibly inspiring and comforting to learn more about the experiences of other Canadian students with IBD.”

What advice do you have for students who are thinking of applying for the scholarship? 

“Pursuing post-secondary studies has many challenges, and those challenges are often exacerbated by IBD. This scholarship can be an incredible way to relieve some of the stress associated with financing your education. As a student with IBD, you deserve both the financial aid and recognition offered by this scholarship!”
What are your tips for students living with IBD as they pursue higher education?

“Stress management is key, but it’s different for everyone (and even varies day-to-day). I’ve found being open about my IBD with my close friends really helps in coping when I experience a flare, as do yoga and healthy eating (both of which are hard to commit to when you’re busy and stressed!). There are also more resources than I could have imagined to support students with IBD when in school: residence accommodations, customized meal plans, exam accommodations, assignment extensions, access to counselling, and so on. I struggled with feeling guilty about taking advantage of these accommodations throughout my undergrad, but overcoming this guilt and using these services has helped me immensely.”

If you are heading back to class for the fall 2021 semester, we encourage you to take the time to submit your application today for the chance to head back to class with a bit of extra cash! The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm ET on June 1st, 2021.

To learn more about the AbbVie IBD Scholarship and submit your application, click here

Do you have questions? Reach out to us at info@ibdscholarship.ca.  

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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