Celebrating 10 Years of Student Success

Ryan Nesbitt
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 ten years. Read on to see what an extraordinary 2015 scholarship recipient has to say about why they applied and tips for academic success!


Meet Ryan Nesbitt

Ryan is a member of the fourth class of inspiring and ambitious AbbVie IBD Scholarship recipients with a passion for giving back to their community. He received the scholarship in 2015 while completing the prestigious Image Arts: Film Studies (BFA) program at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. The undergraduate program supports budding storytellers by educating students on the technical and storytelling skills needed to produce short and long films. Today, you can find Ryan applying those learned skills, as an animation coordinator on a series for Netflix (Be sure to keep your eye out for his name in the credits!) and as the director of his own creative film projects. 

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

Here’s what Ryan had to share:

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

“Starting off as a volunteer at various fundraising events, my involvement with the IBD community has become intertwined with my work as a filmmaker. I constantly find myself gravitating towards ways to implement my experiences with having Crohn’s disease into my art. This led to a partnership with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada to create and release my short documentary Gutsy. This same intrigue is still apparent in me today. I am currently working on a documentary web series and a narrative short film dealing with experiences of those living with a chronic illness.”

How has receiving the AbbVie IBD Scholarship affected your journey?

“The scholarship allowed me to cover my tuition, which meant I was able to focus on honing my craft as a filmmaker. The focus I was able to put towards my schoolwork allowed me to make successful student films that played in festivals around the world, which led to more opportunities for my own career advancement.”

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

“Do it! I applied, I think, three times before I received the scholarship. So if you do not get it the first time, do it again! You never know what might happen, but when the time is right you’ll get it!”

What are your tips for students living with IBD as they pursue higher education?

“Be open, be honest, seek support when needed, and offer it when you see it is needed. To my knowledge, all schools have a support system in place that will provide you with accommodations if you are sick or in a situation that could risk a flare-up. These range from professors being obligated to send you notes if you miss class to getting extra time on assignments when they pile up. More importantly though, just have fun! Although you may not feel great 24/7, it is alright to have a night in with some pals, or even go out for drinks and just have a soda. Don’t let your IBD dictate your college or university experience!”

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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