Exemplary Scholarships Help New Canadians Face Educational Challenges

2013-2014 Issue 1

INAUGURAL RITA LUMBA-BACANI & JUN BACANI SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS (FROM LEFT) ALEJANDRA DEL CASTILLO, MASOUMEH FASAEE-ZADEH, PARVIZ HOSSEIN-ZADEH, AND CHRISTOPHER DANIEL DES ROSIERS (ABSENT FROM PHOTO)

INAUGURAL RITA LUMBA-BACANI & JUN BACANI SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS (FROM LEFT) ALEJANDRA DEL CASTILLO, MASOUMEH FASAEE-ZADEH, PARVIZ HOSSEIN-ZADEH, AND CHRISTOPHER DANIEL DES ROSIERS (ABSENT FROM PHOTO)

Glasses stopped clinking and servers stopped circulating with canapés as speakers went to the podium in the elegant West Lounge at Royal Victoria College. The School of Continuing Studies’ very first Scholarship Reception was a heart-warming event that gave donors and scholarship winners what Dean Judith Potter called a “rare and special opportunity to meet and share their stories of challenges and successes.”

Everyone listened intently as Barbara Seal, a long-time Canadian Citizenship Court judge, recalled meeting a family from China – a mother and two children, a daughter of 12 and a son of 15, who came into her court many years ago. “Many new immigrants are not yet fluent in English or French. The son said, ‘I want to act as interpreter for my mother. My father left us. My mother has studied hard – we’ve studied together.’ He showed such love and respect that it really touched me. She passed the test and they all became citizens. He told me he dreamed of becoming a doctor.’

NEW SCHOLARSHIP ESTABLISHED IN 2012 BY BARBARA SEAL, CM, AND DONALD W. SEAL, QC, BA ‘50, BCL ’54

NEW SCHOLARSHIP ESTABLISHED IN 2012 BY BARBARA SEAL, CM, AND DONALD W. SEAL, QC, BA ‘50, BCL ’54

“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.’ Of course I remembered him. I even remember what he was wearing the first time we met. He was dressed like a little gentleman.”

Judge Seal and her husband, Donald W. Seal, QC, BA 1950, CL 1954, have provided generous funding for the Barbara Seal, CM, Scholarship, that will recognize accomplished students in the School’s undergraduate and graduate professional programs who are newcomers to Canada. As Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal, Development and Alumni Relations, noted, over 40% of the School’s 14,000 students were born outside of Canada, and this first endowed scholarship reflects its strong focus on integrating new Canadians. Alejandra del Castillo, one of four winners of the Rita Lumba-Bacani and Jun Bacani Scholarship in Accounting & Taxation and/or Entrepreneurship, also spoke at the event. Lumba-Bacani herself, CertMgmt’88 and CertAcctg’88, recalled the challenges she and her husband, chemical engineer Jun Bacani, faced when they arrived in Canada and found that their professional qualifications were not recognized here. “It’s never too late to return to your studies,” she said. “I want to support other people who are working hard to follow their dreams.”

NEW PRIZE ESTABLISHED IN 2011 BY ARTHUR LAU (B.ARCH. 1962), AND CRYSTAL S.C. LAU (B.SC. ‘62, M.SC. ‘64)

NEW PRIZE ESTABLISHED IN 2011 BY ARTHUR LAU (B.ARCH. 1962), AND CRYSTAL S.C. LAU
(B.SC. ‘62, M.SC. ‘64)

Also honoured at the event were the three recipients of the Arthur and Crystal Lau Prize, established in 2011, and the 20 winners of McGill Association of Continuing Education Students (M.A.C.E.S.) Scholarships, set up in 2010.

A new advising and career transition service is also in the works that will help the School’s students to juggle professional, academic and family issues as they strive to improve their careers and their lives – perhaps most especially, foreign-born professionals who are struggling to integrate into Canadian life. The proposed service would include career and employment counselling, as well as customized, interactive, discussion-based workshops and bridging services for those needing additional assistance in updating and matching their qualifications, skills, and qualifications to those required by the Quebec labour market.

(Photo Credit: Ryan Blau)

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