Kannan Solayappan and his wife Vallikannu. Mr Solayappan received a financial grant from Bond University in the 1990s that allowed him to graduate and forge a successful career. PHOTO: Supplied
BOND University will hold its first Giving Day on May 19 and Kannan Solayappan is one of the first donors, repaying a decades-old gift of kindness that set him on a path to becoming a successful software consultant to blue chip companies in the US.
Mr Solayappan, originally from Chennai in Southern India, attended Bond University from 1990-92.
He received a 25 per cent scholarship to study a Master’s Degree in Computing Science, taking out a bank loan and relying on help from his family to cover some of the remaining fees.
“I had to bring in the rest of the money so I did odd jobs to support myself,” he recalled from his home in Minnesota.
“I even took two semesters off and went to Sydney looking for a job, working as a dishwasher, kitchenhand and a market research interviewer.
“But the Australian economy was in a bad shape then and my best efforts were not adequate to pay all my outstanding tuition fees.”
It was the midst of the early 1990s Australian recession with unemployment at 11 per cent -- the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
As a last resort, Mr Solayappan reached out to then-Registrar of the University, Alan Finch, for help.
Mr Finch generously waived the $4260 in outstanding fees as a Grant of Financial Aid, allowing Mr Solayappan to graduate.
“The financial grant was an invaluable help at a moment of great personal need to me,” Mr Solayappan said.
“I am thankful to both the University and Alan Finch for their assistance.”
Mr Solayappan repaid the grant last month and the money will be used to support other students in financial hardship.
“I thought it is only proper for me to return the financial aid that was given to me in full. My only regret is not having returned the money earlier.”
After graduating, Mr Solayappan moved to the US, married, and worked as a consultant at Wells Fargo, 3M, American Express, the Mayo Clinic and IBM.
He is the author of the book "Modernity, Civilizations and the Truth" about the interaction between politics, religion, history and philosophy and is a designated speaker in the Foreign Policy Institute's Great Decision Program in Minnesota.
Alan Finch retired as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students and Support Services) in 2019 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his decades of service to the University and its students.
Bond University’s first Giving Day will raise funds for the Ambition Appeal to help disadvantaged students, provide scholarships and assist Bond to continue to deliver its unique student experience.
To contribute go to www.alumni.bond.edu.au/giving-day