Thousands of Continuing Studies students converge on McGill’s campus during the early evening rush hour when most of the McGill community is heading home. Often juggling full-time jobs and family responsibilities, over 14,000 Continuing Studies students annually apply themselves to their studies in management, language and translation programs that will help them to launch or transition in their careers.
Over the past three years, the McGill Association of Continuing Education Students (MACES), the organization representing this large and dedicated student body, has made financial contributions to improve support and services to hardworking Continuing Studies students. To date, MACES has committed a total of $54,400 to McGill’s History in the Making Campaign, designated towards the School’s top priorities: advising and career transition, scholarships and bursaries, and educational technologies.
Funding these priorities will ensure the distinct needs of Continuing Studies students are met. Often, these hard-working students are navigating not only classes, jobs and families, but also, with a large segment hailing from outside Canada, they are still in the process of integrating socially and economically, which is vital for their success.
Dr. Judith Potter, Dean of Continuing Studies, says: “A key priority for Campaign McGill is student success. At the School of Continuing Studies, close to half of our student population are recent immigrants to Quebec. They need resources, sound advice and opportunities to integrate into the Quebec workplace and culture. A portion of the MACES gift is helping to fund a project to identify how the School can meet those needs. We’re investigating: What are the needs, what are the gaps, and how can we best fill those gaps?”
MACES President Nadia Houri also speaks of identifying gaps and targeting them directly with customized approaches. “Services are really important, especially career services. What our students need is career advising customized to their specific needs. We envision an advising centre that assists in the integration process. I think it’s great that the School is beginning to address this need.”
Part of the MACES funding is directed toward scholarships and bursaries, which reward academic excellence and help those in financial need. The School’s scholarship program launched in fall 2012, and a new bursary program will be launched this term.
Along with other new donors to the School, MACES has made a significant impact in a short period of time. Dean Potter, who came to McGill four years ago, recalls, “At that time, the School did not have scholarships or bursaries to recognize excellence or to give students a hand. Having these awards offers something transformational for the students who receive them. We’re so pleased that MACES made student recognition a priority in such a significant way.”
In November 2012, the School held its first scholarship reception, pairing up student award recipients with donors. Dean Potter reflects on the event: “The support goes beyond financial recognition; it also provides Continuing Studies’ students with a sense of belonging, and a feeling of being a part of McGill.”
And while their schedules may not be the same as their daytime colleagues, Continuing Studies students are still making a big difference to McGill and showing true McGill spirit.