Donation Impact

Donation Impact

Generous spirit. Meaningful gift.

Attending the Nova Scotia Community College was a positive experience for Colin and Ryan MacAskill.

Tragically, the brothers both met with untimely deaths. Their parents – Fred and Sarita – established an award to help other young people access an education at NSCC.

"We felt very good about the experience they had there," says Sarita.

The Colin and Ryan MacAskill Memorial Award was initially established in honour of Ryan, a second-year NSCC Financial Services student at Kingstec Campus who lost his life in an accident shortly before graduating in 2006.

After the sudden passing of his older brother in 2013, the family decided to alter the award to include Colin, who graduated from the same Financial Services program in 2003 and then completed a Business Administration degree at Mount Saint Vincent University.

The bursary – available to a male and female student each year across various programs at Kingstec Campus in Kentville – recognizes the brothers' personal generosity toward friends and family and the value they each placed on receiving a college education.

Sarita notes that after Ryan's death, the campus invited his family to accept his diploma at convocation and planted a tree in his memory.

"The school was very caring and supportive and we were astounded by the generosity of people and businesses in this area," she says. "The award is really not about us – it's about being able to support students."

Fred & Sarita MacAskill

Donors Fred & Sarita MacAskill founded The Colin and Ryan MacAskill Memorial Award at Kingstec Campus

From science fair to medical lab

In high school, Paxton Dickey was the girl sitting at the science fair table – studying how the body works and sharing that knowledge with others. This, coupled with a desire to help people, led her to consider medical school.

But that wasn't the right path for her.  

"It is not the diagnosis that thrills me," says Paxton. "It's all of the behind-the-scenes laboratory work and the science behind it that interests me!"

She adds that laboratory work is like a puzzle that helps doctors find answers – leading to a diagnosis.

Paxton's love of science led her to a chemistry degree at university and then to NSCC for Medical Laboratory Technology. A competitive dance instructor, she says the NSCC Foundation's Tribute Bursary helped her stay on track at school without needing to generate additional income.

"Getting that extra money was exciting," she says. "It helped me stick to my teaching schedule without adding anything to my plate, so I could study and get through the program."

She's confident her education will lead to a job that makes her happy to go to work each day.

"I know Medical Laboratory Technologists are in high demand in our province," says Paxton. "I'm hopeful I will get a job right after I’m finished school."

Paxton Dickey

Paxton Dickey follows her inquisitive mind to a new career.

Defying the odds

Despite being told her hearing impairment meant she could never become a marine engineer, Alexandria Beaton persevered.

A Transport Canada regulation prohibits anyone with a hearing aid from working in a ship’s engine room. So she enrolled in NSCC's Marine Navigation program.

And thanks to help from an instructor, Alexandria learned to used a hearing aid, her sense of vibration and lip-reading skills to successfully demonstrate to Transport Canada that her condition did not impact her work or employee safety.

She passed the marine medical and entered the College's Marine Engineering program at the Nautical Institute at Strait Area Campus in Port Hawkesbury.

"I could feel butterflies in my heart and I still do, every time I tell the story," Alexandria says. "It was actually one of the happiest days of my life."

She understands that her successful appeal of the regulation could pave the way for other prospective marine engineers. And that makes her feel proud.

Alexandria Beaton

Alexandria Beaton

Excitement. Innovation. Success.

Jeff Clairmont credits NSCC with taking him from designing free websites in his basement to a successful and fulfilling career.

For the past 12 years, Jeff has been working his way up the ladder at He is now Manager of Custom Design overseeing more than 20 designers and developers for the Yarmouth-based custom website design company.

"It's been quite the journey and that is why I went to NSCC, so all of this could come to fruition," says Jeff.

Born and raised in Yarmouth, he took a year off after high school and indulged his passion for making websites (particularly for musician friends) while exploring his next steps. He enrolled in the two-year IT program at Burridge Campus in 2003 where he cultivated his skills in website development, design and photography.

"It was such a different environment from high school. It was a refreshing experience. I was excited about the training and I could see it leading to a career," says Jeff.

He particularly enjoyed working with actual clients, honing his presentation, project management and consultation skills.

"I learned a lot about the core essentials of design. I had leadership opportunities and I really wanted to excel."

That drive led him to seek employment at, which employs approximately 300 people in Yarmouth and serves clients ranging from self-employed plumbers to professional athletes.

"There is always something new." says Jeff. "We're solving problems every day."

He's also proud to hire other NSCC alumni.

"We have confidence in them," he says. "We see a lot of benefits from having NSCC in our community – it's a great partnership."

Jeff Clairmont

Jeff Clairmont abandoned his basement to become an NSCC alum and employer.