StFX to welcome home alumni from North America and beyond

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm
StFX to welcome home alumni from North America and beyond

St. Francis Xavier University is renowned for having the strongest alumni network in Canada. That’s why Homecoming 2013 will host nearly 1,000 grads coming from areas across Canada and as far away as Hong Kong.

“Our alumni network is unmatched for its strength, diversity, level of engagement, and increasing global reach,” says Mary Jessie MacLellan, StFX Director of Alumni Affairs. “We are very excited this year to host so many alumni from across Canada, the United States and other places around the globe.”

Homecoming is also a special event for students, faculty and staff who participate and host events. “Our support for our alumni on campus is infectious,” adds Ms. MacLellan. “This year we will be hosting an event for the Class of 2013 Homecoming. This will be the first-ever reunion for first-year alumni and we have a lot of 2013 grads registered," she says. “I think it’s a great example of their appreciation for their education and dedication to the alma mater.”

Homecoming weekend will officially kick off October 4 with the 2013 Welcome Home Dinner to be held at the StFX Charles V. Keating Centre. Other events scheduled for the weekend are a 5K Fun Run, Hall of Honour inductions, Homecoming football game, Alumni Awards of Excellence, and class dinners.

This year Alumni Awards of Excellence will recognize three alumni and an alumni chapter:

Tom Rankin will received the Distinguished Alumni Award. His incredible career was highlighted by hard work and dedication. Graduating from StFX in 1960 with a Diploma in Engineering, Mr. Rankin went on to complete his Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Nova Scotia Technical College.  He then moved to Ontario and founded Rankin Construction.  He led his family-run business and is a well-known pioneer in renewable energy projects in Ontario.  An ideal corporate citizen, Mr. Rankin promotes a culture of giving back by encouraging his employees to volunteer in their community to give of both their time and talents. He leads by example and by action.

Bruce MacKinnon, who will receive the Friend of StFX award, was born in Antigonish, NS and for as long as he can remember StFX played a important role in his life. His father, Neil MacKinnon, was a long-time history professor at StFX. A student of fine arts and graphic design, Mr. MacKinnon has been a cartoonist since the age of 14, drawing for the Antigonish Spectator, The Casket and the Xaverian Weekly. In 1985, he was hired by The Chronicle Herald and his cartoons have been featured on the paper’s editorial page ever since. A member of the Order of Nova Scotia, He is also the recipient of many awards of excellence for his editorial cartooning. A long-time friend of the university, Mr. MacKinnon donates his original cartoons to the StFX Art Gallery.

Lisa Bélanger graduated with an honours degree in human kinetics in 2007. She embodies the Xaverian spirit by using her passion for physical activity to inspire others  Ms. Bélanger left her mark at StFX as student leader and an advocate for fundraising for cancer research. She earned her M.Sc. in physical education and is presently completing her PhD. A certified exercise physiologist and owner of Exceed Wellness, she is the author of two books encouraging others to find inspiration in everyday life for healthy eating and active living. Her dual passions of promoting health and preventing cancer have led to a new venture, Knight’s Cabin, a retreat for cancer survivors in the Canadian Rockies. A mentor for young Xaverians, Ms. Bélanger is this year's Young Alumna of the Year.

The Calgary Chapter exemplifies loyalty, commitment and support of StFX. An energetic and enthusiastic group of volunteers, the Calgary Chapter encourages participation from their wide alumni base in many activities.  Some highlights of their past year include the StFX National Dinner, StFX Day celebrations, alumni receptions, StFX Athletics fundraisers, information receptions and their annual student sendoff celebration.  The Calgary Chapter is proud to offer support to StFX students with the Dr. Ed O’Connor Scholarship and the Leone Campbell Memorial Bursary. The chapter also works closely with the university to assist with the recruitment of prospective students. The award will be accepted by chapter president Oliver Munar ’98.

Four alumni will be inducted into the StFX Hall of Honour:

Joe Parks ‘51
Joe Parks of Delran, New Jersey, is an unwavering champion of StFX. Retired from the US Navy & Marines and a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Mr. Parks began a second career as a science teacher and guidance counsellor in New Jersey. A member of the Rancocas Valley High School Hall of Fame, he was recognized for the difference he made in the lives of young students.  Committed to staying connected to both friends and his alma mater, Mr. Parks is also well known for his desire to lend a helping hand.   He regularly visits both the sick and elderly to offer assistance. He gives freely of his time to the Interfaith Caregivers and Tender Care; both outreach organizations that assist senior citizens in enabling them to remain in their own homes. 

Robert Romanowsky ‘63
A native of Darcut, Maine, Robert Romanowsky is well known in Lowell, Massachusetts as the man who enabled many new beginnings for youth. As a doctor of chiropractic, Dr. Romanowsky assisted in a local school as an instructor and teacher while initiating a basketball program for youth. He founded the Ecumenical League which incorporates many teams and athletes while providing opportunities for both young and old. His support and enthusiasm positively enhance the school community. The league continues today and incorporates many additional sports. “Doc,” as he is fondly referred, created an atmosphere of involvement and excitement for all. In addition, Dr. Romanowsky began a science fair program for local schools and continues to mentor students to pursue higher education. He has influenced many through his patience, kind demeanor, his lessons of life and the sacrifice to succeed through perseverance and discipline. 

Valerie Bobyk ‘73
Valerie Bobyk of Halifax, NS, volunteer contributions include work with Rotary International, Federation of Community Organizations, Nova Scotia Council for the Family, Family Service Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Parish Council of St. Agnes Parish in Halifax. Proud and devoted to her Ukranian heritage, she is dedicated to maintaining her heritage as part of our national cultural mosaic. Years of work in the non-profit sector have given her the opportunity to directly impact the quality of life for those who are marginalized. Ms. Bobyk has used her StFX education and experience to further cement her belief and values of social justice and community engagement. A former president of the StFX Alumni Association and member of the StFX Board of Governors, she continues to be dedicated to her alma mater. 

Raylene Rankin ’82 (posthumous)
Throughout her life, Raylene Rankin demonstrated generosity, caring and concern for others. Never too busy to take time to visit, Ms. Rankin held dear the elderly in her home community of Mabou. She spent countless hours talking, visiting and seeking advice from them to further enhance the revival of the Gaelic language and Celtic culture in Canada. Her musical talent and gift was embraced by Xaverians and fans everywhere. She dedicated much of her life to giving both her time and energy to help others. She volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society and acted as a spokesperson for the Run for the Cure. Dedicated to her family and friends, she ensured that their well-being was a priority. A loyal daughter, sister, wife and mother, Ms. Rankin was a gift to everyone who met her; her life a shining example of what we strive to be. Ms. Rankin’s significant contributions made the world a better place to be.