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Donor of the Month: Dr. Ken Atwal

Mon. Apr. 15, 2024

Dr. Atwal smiling

After working as an emergency doctor for nearly 25 years, Dr. Ken Atwal divides his retirement time between his family, the hockey rink, and working part-time at his medical clinic. The Collegiate graduate ('87) and UWinnipeg alumnus ('91) has lived in the Greater Toronto Area for much of his career, working for the University Health Network and Brampton Civic Hospital after finishing medical school.

“When my family immigrated to Canada from England, the Maples neighbourhood became my new home from the age of five till the moment I graduated from the Medical College at the University of Manitoba in 1995.” says Ken. “During my high school years, the Collegiate only offered grades 11 and 12—we had maybe 100 students enrolled during that time—and I was lucky enough to know just about everybody who went there. It gave the school a familial atmosphere, which helped compliment the diverse and supportive cast of people I met while studying there. I loved being treated like a university student as a young person at the time. Being able to explore and make use of the resources provided by the university made the experience truly enjoyable.”

In the fall of 2023, Ken worked with the University of Winnipeg Foundation to establish a new endowment fund that would help support student experience and success at the Collegiate. The Dr. Ken Atwal Collegiate Award is the sum of those efforts. Designed to recognize high academic achievement while also helping students in grade 11 cover their senior year tuition costs, Ken wanted the award to contribute to the academic journey of each recipient, saying that, “When I look back on my own career and the opportunities I’ve had to grow and travel over the years, I often think that journey started back at the Collegiate during those special two years. I want the students who receive this award to use the funding to develop their own interests and support their passions as they begin their own adventure after graduating.”

As an alumni and donor, Ken notes how important it is for members of the community to find something they feel passionate about at the Collegiate and do their best to support the institution through volunteering or giving back. “The mission at the Collegiate has always hinged on the school’s ability to remain accessible and open to newcomers. Support from donors and alumni help preserve this legacy which is 150 years in the making. The role our space plays in the downtown neighbourhood and the quality of the education that was provided to me and every Collegiate student who has enrolled since then speaks volumes about the work that goes on at Wesley Hall.”

While most of his family have since moved to Southern Ontario, Ken continues to visit his hometown on occasion and recently toured the campus with his brother and fellow Collegiate alumni, Jas, in 2023.