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The donor: Dr. Samir Sinha

The gift: $50,000

The cause: Ryerson University

The reason: To create a scholarship for LGBTQ students

When Samir Sinha was growing up in Winnipeg in the 1980s, he was so worried about telling his parents he was gay that he began saving as much money as possible in case they cut him off.

“You always have this lingering doubt ... is this the one issue that just is not acceptable?,” Dr. Sinha recalled. “I did not want to be placed in that vulnerable position.” His parents proved to be loving and supportive and Mr. Sinha went on to win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and he’s now director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

He joined the board of governors at Ryerson University three years ago and was impressed with the university’s commitment to improving access to education for various populations including the LGBTQ community. Last year, he donated $50,000 to create the Ryerson PRIDE Scholarship fund. The scholarship is aimed at helping exceptional undergraduates who are the first in their family to attend university and who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The money has been matched by another university program, bringing the total to $100,000.

Mr. Sinha, 42, hopes more people will contribute to the fund and he’s been heartened by the response he’s received to the scholarship program, which is among the first of its kind. “You realize that you are one of the lucky ones,” he said. Recalling the anxiety he felt growing up, he added: “You want to make sure that knowing that level of vulnerability, people shouldn’t have to go through that.”