Helping others find their way: Dr. Caroline Cole Power establishes OISE endowed scholarship

By Perry King
March 5, 2024
Dr. Caroline Cole Power endowed scholarship
OISE alumna Dr. Caroline Cole Power is the founder and chief executive officer of CDNHR Group (photo by Marianne Lau).

When you get into a deep chat with Dr. Caroline Cole Power, she talks often about her purpose. 

鈥淚 think it's important for people to know what their purpose is,鈥 said the bright, composed Power in January. 鈥淢y purpose is really twofold 鈥 to help organizations create environments where everybody can thrive and to help employees, at levels within those organizations, find their way.鈥

Today, in 2024, Dr. Power is walking that talk.

Established at OISE, the Dr. Caroline Cole Power Scholarship will support our students in financial need, effective fall 2024.

With this scholarship, it is an opportunity to continue a 鈥渓iving legacy, current and future,鈥 she says. 鈥淚t's bigger than about self. It's about pushing yourself hard enough and doing well enough to be able to do good for other people.鈥

鈥淥n behalf of the OISE community, we send tremendous gratitude to Dr. Power for establishing this scholarship with our Institute,鈥 said Professor Erica N. Walker, Dean of OISE. 鈥淗er scholarship award will certainly enable many future students with help for their academic journeys 鈥 one that promises to equip students and our communities to address the crises of the day.鈥

Power鈥檚 scholarship gift will support under-represented students 鈥 Black students, Indigenous students, First-generation students, refugee students, and students registered with Accessibility Services. 

鈥淲e are grateful for the gift we have received from Dr. Power, who has seen the power that an education can have on making a difference in this world,鈥 said Sim Kapoor, director of OISE鈥檚 Office of Advancement, Communications, and External Relations. 鈥淭his scholarship is going to transform aspiring students and future educators for years to come.鈥

That is precisely the goal of Power, whose intention to help the next generation continues.

鈥淎ll that I am, and all that I'm building 鈥 because I'm not done yet 鈥 has come to me in order that I may use some of it to help other people,鈥 said Power, who has been named to list. 鈥淚 see it very much as my responsibility to help others and to leave a legacy, something that impacts people positively while I鈥檓 here, but also after I'm gone.鈥

Video by Marianne Lau


鈥淭he mindset forged in me鈥

Her undergraduate degree was in business. She then completed an MBA. Power spent all of her career working, up until her time at OISE, in business and specifically corporate financial services 鈥 working for 鈥渂ig blue鈥 institutions like Canada鈥檚 largest banks, Ernst & Young, the Business Development Bank of Canada, and General Electric in Canada and the United States.  While in corporate life she he developed deep expertise in human resources, talent management and financial risk management. 

鈥淭he mindset that had been forged in me, academically, prior to going to OISE, was entirely business and decidedly capitalist,鈥 she said. Wanting to learn more about ideologies on the other end of the social continuum, she decided to apply to OISE鈥檚 Master of Education program.  Power notes that that was one of the best decisions of her life because the theoretical and practical frameworks that she gained at OISE taught her to how to think about the 鈥渟hades of grey between the black and white that is business.鈥

With an enriched perspective 鈥淚鈥檓 able to understand that things don't always have an have a direct answer 鈥 sometimes the answer to the thing is depending on what you're trying to do. One of the things that I came away from at OISE, when I earned my degree, was the ability to see things from vastly differing perspectives, where one plus one doesn't always equal two鈥 and there often isn鈥檛 a simple answer to the question at hand.鈥

Her academic advisor during her time at OISE, Associate Professor Kiran Mirchandani, remembers Power as a person who already had the tools to make change in the environments she engaged in. 

鈥淐aroline drew on her vast and varied work experience in organizations and higher education institutions to engage with readings and classmates to strategize on ways to bring about meaningful change,鈥 said Mirchandani, a Professor in the Adult Education & Community Development Program. 鈥淪he was at the forefront of practice on challenging the systemic exclusion of Black and racialized women from leadership positions in organizations.鈥

At the core of what makes her tick is a deep sense of duty and responsibility, aware that her own success was because others saw potential in her. 鈥淚 see myself as someone who contributes to this society, to the system to the bigger thing, rather than someone who gets from or takes from the thing and doesn't give back,鈥 she says.

Power has dear memories of her time at OISE 鈥 everything from her classes with Professor Mirchandani, her study days in the soft landings at OISE and the friends she made on the 4th floor and in the library. 鈥淚 love my schools, I love all of my schools, because education is so important to me. And it's my schools, every single school that I've been to, have gotten me to where I am.鈥

Mirchandani remembers Power鈥檚 time at OISE dearly. 

鈥淐aroline had excellent academic skills and was a fine writer which made her a great asset to our program,鈥 recalls Mirchandani. 鈥淪he was such a thoughtful HR professional with a passion for developing sustainable and equitable organizations.鈥

鈥淗elping people find their way鈥

Power has leveraged her deep business background and with the humanities-based expertise better honed at OISE to catapult herself into a life of entrepreneurship.

Notably, in 2010, Power founded CDNHR Group, a professional training and development company with a footprint across 14 cities in Canada.

In 2022 Power was named an RBC Hero by RBC Royal Bank, an award that recognized four successful women entrepreneurs that year.  Also in 2022 she one the Inspire award from Universal Women鈥檚 network. 

Dr. Power is currently the Vice Chair of Credit Canada Debt Solutions, Canada longest-standing credit counselling agency.

Dr. Cole Power鈥檚 story is one paved with very hard and smart work, which has led to success., With this scholarship, she becomes of service to the businesses of today and the leaders of tomorrow. 

鈥淵es, I am a business owner, and yes I am in the marketplace to create a commercial service. But I'm equally in the marketplace to serve my clients, I am there to help them solve a problem, I'm here to help them fill a need,鈥 she says 鈥淚'm there to do something that helps my clients 鈥 whether it's a corporation, government, not for profit, or an individual 鈥 get to a better place as a result of them engaging with my company.

鈥淚t isn't just about keeping my lights on, keeping food on my table, it's about genuinely helping the organizations and individuals that my business services.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with them and I do not take that responsibility lightly.鈥

鈥漈hrough this OISE the scholarship and endowment it is also helping students find their way. 

鈥淢y hope is that these financial resources will create peace of mind so that students can focus their time on studying and learning rather than having to worry about financial stressors.鈥

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