SELF-made learning

Gift from Shell Canada gives UAlberta students opportunities beyond the classroom.


(Edmonton) A $600,000 gift from Shell Canada will help University of Alberta students like Ayesha Herian gain experience outside the classroom.

With help from the Shell Enhanced Learning Fund (SELF), Herian attended an international conference on Green Energy for Sustainable Development in Thailand, bringing back ideas and experiences that will be instrumental to both her thesis work and her planned career in environmental management.

“It was an invaluable experience for me, where I was able to gain international perspectives on sustainable energy, environment and economy—issues that are important to me and my program,” said Herian, who is studying resource and environmental economics in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. “Without the support of the SELF fund, opportunities like this just wouldn’t be possible for me and other students at the U of A.”

The donation was announced Nov. 17 at the SELF Symposium, an annual celebration of the previous year’s recipients. In 2014, more than $100,000 in SELF funding provided enhanced learning opportunities for 368 participants in 64 activities.

“The University of Alberta is a leading, next-generation university that has a reputation for supplying well-trained professionals from a variety of disciplines,” said Ed Soltys, vice-president of finance with Shell Canada. “We hope our investment will assist students in reaching their full potential, so they can begin to tackle some of tomorrow’s most pressing energy concerns.”

“The U of A offers students extraordinary experiences for their post-secondary education, and this kind of ongoing support goes a long way to helping expand that offering beyond the traditional lecture theatres and laboratories,” said Robin Everall, interim vice-provost and dean of students. “We are grateful for the long-term partnership with Shell. We try to support students as they find their passions and follow their own paths to success, and this funding helps us do just that.”

Half of the gift will directly support SELF, which provides students with opportunities that have a focus on sustainable energy, the environment and the economy. Individual students can apply for up to $2,500 and campus groups up to $10,000.

The remaining $300,000 from Shell will enable:

  • students in the Faculty of Science to attend geophysics and Earth and atmospheric sciences field schools
  • mentorship and networking opportunities to support women in science, engineering and technology through programs such as WISEST, UAWISE and WISER
  • students to attend Aboriginal Student Discovery Day and the Bridges orientation program

Shell and the U of A share a vision to develop outstanding leaders who will have a powerful impact on education and research in the oil and gas industry. To date, Shell has given $4.78 million in philanthropic support to dozens of programs across nine faculties, including engineering, education, business, science and public health.