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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Our team

Meet the Financial Aid team

  • Debra White – Manager, Student Awards and Financial Aid

    Debra started her career at Durham College working in one of the entrepreneurial divisions at the Whitby Campus in 1995. In her role there, Debra learned the importance of maintaining safe work practices which is something she was able to carry with her in all future roles.

    During her years at the college, Debra was able to advance through various positions, including working in the Dental Clinic, Academic Upgrading Office and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. In 2010, Debra entered into the world of Financial Aid at our university, holding roles such as Financial Aid Assistant, University Works Co-ordinator, Financial Aid Officer and Senior Financial Aid Officer.  Debra currently holds the positon of Manager, Student Awards and Financial Aid.

  • Leticia Simon – Senior Financial Aid Officer

    Leticia graduated with a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Santa Cruz do Sul in Brazil, and also has a Business Management Diploma from the Rio Grande do Sul Federal’s University.

    She moved to Canada in 2007 and started her Canadian work experience by attending the Enhanced Language Training program, where she had the opportunity of doing her work placement at Durham College. Before her placement finished, she was offered a contract position at our university in the Accounts Payable department and has held various other roles, including Accounts Receivable and Financial Aid Assistant. Leticia is currently a Financial Aid Officer, where she loves connecting with the students daily and assisting with their journey to completing a degree.

    When not at work, she likes to spend time with her family and take care of her houseplants—especially her orchids.

  • Sarah Desjardins – Financial Aid Officer

    Sarah grew up in Oshawa and completed her Honours Bachelor of Science with a major in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Guelph. After graduation, she worked as a Research Technician in a molecular biology laboratory at The Hospital for Sick Children. She then went on to work at St. Michael’s Hospital, first in a dietetic research lab looking at the effect of B vitamins on ischemia, then in an orthopedic research lab studying the effect of stem cells on bone and tendon healing. The most enjoyable part of this work was being able to assist the various post-secondary students who came through the labs, which is why she was thrilled to snag a position at Ontario Tech in the Office of the Registrar. Sarah worked for three years on the Information and Client Services team assisting students on the frontline, before being seconded to a Student Awards Officer position within the Student Awards and Financial Aid team. After six months as an Awards Officer, she recently accepted a new position as a Financial Aid Officer.

    Outside of work, Sarah keeps busy with her husband, two children, and an adorable boston terrier puppy.

  • Melanie French – Financial Aid Officer

    Melanie grew up in Courtice and is a graduate of Durham College, where she received an advanced diploma in Business Administration-Human Resources Management and a diploma in Office Administration-Legal.

    She has over 15 years of work experience in post-secondary education in the areas of Financial Aid and Awards, Admissions, Records, and International and Continuing Education. She has held positions with Durham College and Fleming College.

    Using the skillsets she achieved from these experiences, she accepted a position with our university as a Financial Aid Assistant. Currently, Melanie holds a position as a Financial Aid Officer where she enjoys meeting with students one-on-one and helping them have the best experience while on their post-secondary journey.

    While not at work, Melanie enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves time away from the city where she enjoys cottage life in Haliburton.

  • Jessica Husted – Financial Aid Officer

    Jessica holds both an MBA and a Bachelors degree in Finance. She has been employed at Ontario Tech since 2012, holding various positions within the Finance department including Finance Support Coordinator, Accounts Payable Specialist, and Accounts Receivable Coordinator. Currently, Jessica works with Student Awards and Financial Aid as Student Awards Officer, where she enjoys interacting and helping students.

    Jessica loves to watch her children playing sports and taking her dog Bebe for walks as much as possible.

Meet the Student Awards team

  • Cory Lusted – Senior Student Awards Officer

    Part of the campus community for over 18 years, Cory brings an extensive knowledge from a variety of areas. From Athletics, and Admissions and Recruitment at Durham College—to Athletics, and Student Awards and Financial Aid at the university—Cory has done and seen a lot on this campus. He has the experience of being both an esteemed graduate of Durham College and a passionate employee of our university.

    When not involved in the world of Student Awards, Cory—a proud father, husband, brother, son and friend—can be found chauffeuring his three children where they need/want to be, spending time at Orangetheory Fitness and with his pals at the Whitby Tennis Club. Life would not be complete without his daily fantasy sports fix or cheering on our hometown Maple Leafs and Blue Jays, as well as, the Buffalo Bills. Let’s go, Ridgebacks!

  • Sonya Winkworth-Chmatil – Student Awards Officer

    Sonya is an outgoing, bubbly member of our team who goes out of her way to ensure students have a wonderful experience at Ontario Tech.

    Sonya is a graduate from Durham College with a diploma in Pharmaceutical and Food Science Technology program. She is currently completing her Bachelors of General Studies - Arts and Science through Athabasca.

    Following graduation, Sonya worked for Durham College first as a Life License Qualification Administrator at the Whitby campus, assisting students with their government qualification requirements before she was promoted to a Purchasing Clerk. In 2009, Sonya made the transition to Ontario Tech as an Accounts Payable Coordinator with the Finance department.  She has held various positions under the Office of the Registrar which include Financial Aid Assistant with Student Awards and Financial Aid, Enrolment Services Coordinator I and II with Enrolment Services and currently a Student Awards Officer with Student Awards and Financial Aid.

    Outside of work, Sonya likes spending time with her husband, three kids and getting her hands in any DIY project she can find.

  • Victoria Pearce – Student Awards and Financial Aid Assistant

    Vicky is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and has been working at Ontario Tech since 2005. She was the Graduate Program Assistant for 16 years in the Faculty of Science and moved to the Registrar’s Office in 2021, first as a Records Officer and is currently the Student Awards and Financial Aid Assistant.

    She has enjoyed seeing Ontario Tech grow in both size and reputation and has kept in touch with former graduates as they have gone on to successful careers all over the world.

    Now that her two children can drive themselves everywhere, Vicky has spare time to read and spend time with her husband and friends going to concerts and trying new restaurants in the Durham Region.

  • Jennifer Racine – Student Awards Officer (Temporary Leave of Absence)

    Jenn is passionate about creating processes that streamline service for students and staff alike. Always a multitasker, Jenn studied full-time at Ontario Tech University for her Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree, while also completing her certificate in Multimedia Design from Durham College.

    Jenn held various positions through the University Works student employment program in the Student Accessibility Services office, Alumni Office, and Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA). Following graduation, Jenn utilized her technical background while working full-time in IT Services and soon accepted a position in the SAFA office. Jenn has held various roles including Student Awards Assistant, Financial Aid Officer and University Works Coordinator, and now acts as a Student Awards Officer.

Meet our Director

  • Andra Drinkwalter – Director, Student Financial Assistance and Enrolment Services

    Andra graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Arts in Popular Culture, but enjoyed the university environment so much she joined Ontario Tech as an employee when it first opened its doors to students in 2003. Over the years, she has held progressive positions throughout her career at the university and continually strives to build inclusive, supportive and positive teams. Her goal is that these teams will be able to be successful in providing high quality service and support to students.

    Outside work, Andra keeps extremely busy with her husband and two kids, pursuing her master’s degree, playing soccer and reading.