Development & Alumni Relations Office 

RYAN IS A STUDENT HARDSHIP FUN(D) RUNNER!  Ryan Zantinge with £812 cheque (left) and out running (right)

29 June 2020

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSc Building Information Modelling Project Management student Ryan Zantinge contacted the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s with an idea. 

Ryan, who comes from Owen Sound in Southwestern Ontario in Canada, was planning to run a half marathon in his home city and to raise funds for the Student Hardship Fund back at Queen’s, in his temporary home of Belfast. And he wanted others across the University to join him.

On Saturday 30 May, along with 14 others, comprising a number of staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences where he is a student rep, Ryan completed the first ever Student Hardship Fun(d) Run.

Adhering to the strict rules on social distancing applicable in both Northern Ireland and Canada, the participants included Architecture lecturers Catherine Blaney, Rachel Delargy and Rachel O’Grady, who covered distances ranging from 5km to 21km.

“It was a real pleasure to work with Ryan on this project and to help him engage with other students and staff across the University,” said Sarah-Jayne Cassells, who is Development Manager for Health, in the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office.

“I would like to thank him for the training and effort that went into raising £812.00 - which excludes Gift Aid - for the Queen’s University Student Hardship Fund, and for reaching out to do his bit for his fellow students who have fallen into unexpected financial difficulties whist studying.

“He certainly put a lot of hard work into the fundraiser and also managed to complete a half marathon at the same time!

“We wish Ryan the very best of luck in completing his dissertation and studies at Queen’s.”

The Student Hardship Fund offers low-level discretionary financial help for students in financial difficulty. This could be something unexpected such as a close family bereavement or sickness. The support available is vital and often ensures that the student goes on to finish their studies, unburdened by additional debt.

While home is Owen Sound, located at the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham Rivers on an inlet of Georgian Bay in Ontario, prior to moving to Northern Ireland, Ryan lived and worked in London so he was ready for a break from the big city life.

“I visited Queen’s during one of the open days and was really impressed by the facilities and campus,” he said. “Queen’s has a good reputation and was one of only a few universities in the UK to offer the post grad degree I was interested in.

“Some of the partners at my previous firm attended Queen’s - or had children who went at Queen’s - and they recommended it,” he added.

Listing Guinness, the countryside and the local accent among his favourite things about Northern Ireland, Ryan reflected positively on his year at Queen’s.

“Life around the University is vibrant with everything you need in close proximity,” he said. “And the locals are super friendly and helpful.”

He also loved the facilities on offer at the University (The Graduate School, McClay Library and the PEC in particular), as well as its overall affordability. “The Faculty are well experienced industry experts with real world expertise and there’s a good balance of practical assignments and theory.

He did, however, have one piece of sage advice for anyone thinking of coming to Queen’s to study. “Bring Gore-Tex! Northern Ireland tends to be very wet, although with this comes very lovely and green countryside.”

Speaking after his fundraising marathon, Ryan paid tribute to those who had supported the initiative. “This past Saturday, we completed the Student Hardship Fun(d) Run!  Thank you to everyone who supported the cause either by taking part in the run or by donating!

“This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many people.”

At the time of writing Ryan was still awaiting his results, though he was planning to speak to potential employers in both Canada and the UK to ‘see where the most exciting opportunities lie.’

To donate to the Student Hardship Fund go to:

Ryan has put together a short video of the run which can be viewed here:

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

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