At the School of Continuing Studies, we ensure that hardworking and deserving adult learners have an opportunity to pursue their studies, improve their knowledge and skills, and transform their careers and their lives.
Fall 2012 was a real milestone for the School. For the first time, we presented 30 students with scholarships to recognize their academic achievement. These scholarships were donor funded and made a big difference in the lives of deserving learners.
In November 2012, the School held its first scholarship reception, pairing up 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.”
Donors in the Spotlight
Barbara Seal, a long-time Canadian Citizenship Court judge, and her husband, Donald W. Seal, QC, have provided generous funding for the School of Continuing Studies’ first endowed scholarship, The Barbara Seal, CM Scholarship. 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 is made up of recent immigrants to Quebec. They need resources, sound advice, and opportunities to integrate into the Quebec workplace and culture. Barbara Seal’s award will provide well-deserved recognition and encouragement for our students who originate from outside of Canada and who face significant challenges to reach their aspirations and ambitions for a more fulfilling and enriched life and better career prospects in their new country.” Pointing to a fine example of the transformative power of education, Judge Seal describes her meeting with a family from China in her court many years ago. Judge Seal recalls, “Many new immigrants are not yet fluent in English or French. When this family (mother and two children, a daughter of 12 and a son of 15) came into my court, the son said to me, ‘Judge Seal, can I act as interpreter for my mother?’ Of course I agreed. This 15-year old boy went on to say, ‘My father left us. My mother has studied hard – we’ve studied together. I dream of becoming a doctor in Canada.’ He showed such love and respect that it really touched me. All three of them became Canadian citizens that day.” “Many years later, a handsome young man knocked at my door and said, ‘Judge Barbara? I just wanted to tell you that my mother and I talk about you all the time. Thanks to your encouragement, I’ve just graduated from medical school!’”
Rita Lumba-Bacani has committed $10,000 to create one of the School’s first named, direct-funded awards – the Rita Lumba-Bacani and Jun Bacani Scholarship in Accounting and Taxation and/or Entrepreneurship. When Rita Lumba-Bacani, CertMgmt’88, CertAcctg’88, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1969 to join her husband, chemical engineer Jun Bacani, she learned that her CPA license did not receive full professional status in her newly adopted country. “We were not seen as professionals,” she recalls. While she found auditing and taxation work to help support her young family, Lumba-Bacani was ambitious, and as her two children grew older, she registered in an academic program at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, specializing in Taxation and Accounting. “I was so proud to be going back to school,” she says. But it was also demanding: working a 9-to-5 job, taking public transit into Montreal for evening courses and bussing home to Brossard at the end of the day. In addition, she started her own real estate business and handled all of the accounting for her husband’s two companies. (Jun discovered a way to increase total protein in processed meats by replacing fats with leaner plant and vegetable proteins.) Lumba-Bacani pursued her dream – and this demanding regimen – for six years. “It was a busy time for the whole family, and I had to work very hard,” she says. “But it worked out well for us.” Now, she is giving back by committing $10,000 to create one of the School’s first named, direct-funded awards: the Rita Lumba-Bacani and Jun Bacani Scholarship in Accounting and Taxation and/or Entrepreneurship, which has already made a difference in the lives of students. “It’s never too late to return to your studies,” she stresses. “I went to McGill when I was over 40 years old, and I want to support other people who are working hard to follow their dreams.”
Almost half of the McGill Association of Continuing Education Students (MACES) campaign donations have gone to 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 is launching in 2013. MACES and other donors have 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.”
A lack of financial resources should not pose a barrier to a talented student’s academic pursuits to help them to achieve their career goals. With the help of generous donors, we provide financial support to students to ensure their success.
Donors in the Spotlight
During Campaign McGill, History in the Making, Continuing Studies instructor Charles Pitts and his wife Manon Boisvert established the Boisvert-Pitts Bursary in Public Relations. “We believe that a student’s lack of funds should not prevent him or her from attending Continuing Studies in order to get ahead,” Pitts says. “A lot of students may be new to Montreal, just starting careers and families, so money can be tight.” Manon and Charles’s gift is helping students transcend financial difficulty to upgrade their skills, pursue new career paths, or obtain a much-needed certification or diploma to get ahead.