Undergrads discover interests and skills that suit them best

Impact of Annual Giving – 2013

Your donations fund programs and services that aren’t covered by government operating grants. Because of this added support, our students’ educations are more comprehensive and meaningful. The following story highlights how the Alma Mater Fund impacted the life of one recent graduate. Thank you.

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Knowledgeable and poised, recently-minted geo-technical engineer Ashley Galagusz, BEng’13, won the Dr. Raymond Yong Scholarship for high academic achievement. (Photo: Owen Egan)

Life rarely travels in a straight line from point A to B, and it’s the detours along the way that add zest and insight. Alumni gifts often function the same way. The seeds they sow can provide important benefits that may not be evident at the outset.

ashley quoteAshley Galagusz’s story is a case in point. She arrived at McGill planning a career in structural engineering. Part way through her studies she registered for an internship arranged by the McGill Engineering Student Centre (MESC), a unit funded in large part through alumni donations. The experience changed her life.

“The internship was excellent” she says, “but by the end of the summer I realized I just wasn’t passionate about what I was doing.

“That four months spent working in the field pinpointed the direction I really wanted to take,” and the Civil Engineering student decided to change her specialization to geo-technical engineering.

The move proved prophetic. Ashley graduated this past June (adding a minor in environmental engineering to her geo-technical major). Along the way she made it onto the Dean’s Honour List, won the Dr. Raymond Yong Scholarship for high academic achievement and was active in extracurricular activities, particularly as regards encouraging women to consider engineering as a profession.

pie chart 2“What would have happened if I hadn’t taken that internship is anyone’s guess,” she says.

“Besides helping me discover my real passion, it taught me important life skills. I learned the value of working cohesively as a team, of understanding different personality types, of appreciating other professionals’ perspectives and a host of other things that you can’t really pick up in a classroom.”

None of that would have been possible without the MESC, she adds, and the donor gifts that support it. “Besides organizing internships, the unit offers professional development training and opens all kinds of doors for employment―everything from tips on CV writing to conducting mock job interviews. It’s a one-stop shop for a ton of career-related initiatives.

“Classroom and lab work are critically important to anyone’s education,” Ashley adds, “but what I learned outside those venues may, in the end, have the greatest impact on my life. If that is due to alumni gifts, then please tell them how much I appreciate what they did.”

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