Angela poses with the ingredients of the self-care grad box

A special gift to recognize a big accomplishment

October 19, 2022

Tuition Waiver Program graduates acknowledged through gift boxes

Graduating from university is a big accomplishment.

To help graduating students in the Tuition Waiver Program (TWP) for former youth in care mark this momentous achievement, VIU’s Financial Aid and Awards department, in collaboration with many generous community donors, created a graduate gift box program. Of the 33 Tuition Waiver Program students who graduated in June 2022, 21 signed up to receive a box filled with items to help them celebrate. 

For Kayla R, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate, receiving a gift box made her feel recognized and acknowledged in a way that she didn’t experience often growing up, and just knowing there was a team of people thinking of her and cheering her on was a good feeling.

“It’s so much more than what comes in the box, it’s about that act of kindness,” she says. “Having your achievements and the hard work and the struggles acknowledged, it gives me hope for the future.”

The gift box project started in the fall of 2020 when Angela Meneghetti, VIU’s Financial Aid Access Specialist, was looking for a way to continue reaching the students she supports in ways that reinforced for them that the University cared and was there for them.

“The rapid shift to remote working and learning conditions prompted a change in my own approaches towards delivering student support,” she says. “At the same time, the pandemic intensified an already chaotic and stressful educational experience for TWP students. The gift boxes instil a sense of joy, purpose, optimism and belonging that significantly benefit students’ overall educational experiences and mental well-being, while providing them with something tangible as they make their way back into the work world.”

Tuition Waiver Program graduates were invited to choose from several different options – the Self-Care Box, the Indulgence Box or the Kitchen and Pantry Box. Each box included uniquely crafted, locally produced items for graduates to indulge in.

Kayla opted for the Self-Care Box, which included candles, chocolate, bath bombs and tea. She says receiving the box was a good reminder to take some time for herself.

“As a student, you kind of lose that self-care aspect, we forget to take a break and be kind to ourselves,” she says. “Having these types of things and a community that’s recognizing you is huge. For me personally, not having a support network of family members to reach out to and lean on, of the Tuition Waiver Program was almost like a safety net, it was a community and a support system in itself. It wasn’t just about the funds or the financial support – that was one aspect that was huge – but it was also about people like Angela and others, cheering us on along the way, the emails we received saying, ‘We are proud of you, keep going.’”

“How exciting! Every box looks so amazing. Thank you so much for organizing such a cute graduation gift for us :)”

“I just wanted to inform you that I just received my gift box and I am overwhelmed with tears, the box that I received was a self-care package and I am absolutely in love with it. I am incredibly grateful to you and everyone else that dedicated your time and efforts to create these boxes. I also wanted to let you know how much I appreciate that the gifts I received were local to the region as buying locally is something I cherish and genuinely value.” 


“Oh I love those little gift boxes. They bring joy!!!” 


“Thanks so much for organizing this!”


“I have so much appreciation towards you and everyone else that make such kind and heartwarming gift boxes. Thank you so much again. I have signed up for one, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day” 


“This is a wonderful thing VIU is doing. Thank you so much!”  


“A big thank you to all involved for consistently organizing such awesome extensions of appreciation and assistance.”

Contribute to VIU’s Tuition Waiver Program

Vancouver Island University’s Tuition Waiver Program (VIU TWP) is an initiative aimed at making post-secondary education more accessible for former youth in care by waiving tuition and related mandatory fees for eligible students. Vancouver Island University is a leader in providing access to post-secondary education for former youth in care and was the first post-secondary institution in British Columbia to launch a Tuition Waiver program. The VIU Tuition Waiver Program is available to eligible students 19 years of age or older (no age cap) who are living in or have lived as a youth in care in BC for 12 months or more (cumulative or accumulated in one or more of these eligible categories.

VIU recognizes that these students often need additional supports, from emergency funding, to gift box programs and consistent personal check-ins (email, social media and in-person). All of these supports are provided by VIU’s designated Financial Aid Access Specialist who incorporates individualized, relationship-based and wrap-around care approaches to students accessing the Tuition Waiver Program.  

Meneghetti is getting ready to distribute the next round of gift baskets this fall. If you are interested in supporting students through the VIU Tuition Waiver Program please contact our VIU Foundation Office by calling 250.740.6217 or emailing

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