Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Making a difference–Over 120 StFX students have benefitted from the Jeannine Deveau Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund

January 16th, 2018
Several of this year's Deveau Scholars at the 2nd Deveau Scholarship Dinner

When the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund was announced at StFX in October 2015, it was said to have the power to transform lives.

Two years later this is certainly true. Since the fund’s inception, 56 scholarships and over 70 bursaries have been awarded to StFX students, making it easier for Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians to access a university education.

Recipient Christina Sentho Turay says she greatly appreciates the Deveau fund for the helping hand it’s provided so that she can successfully obtain her BA in women’s studies and religious studies.

“This scholarship award will only push me further towards my degree and my dreams of one day having a successful career,” says Ms. Turay, a third year student originally from West Africa Sierra Leone who grew up in Antigonish, NS, and among those celebrated recently at the 2nd Deveau Scholarship Dinner.

Ms. Turay says as a low income student, facing increasing challenges of financial need, the scholarship will help her spend more time on her courses, which are crucial to her future.

This fund is extremely important in allowing students to excel beyond expectations, says recipient Summer-Joy Upshaw, who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in human kinetics program and who is taking a minor in human nutrition.

“With the Deveau Fund, I believe that we are breaking barriers by educating strong and powerful minds to achieve greatness and change the world. With this scholarship supporting me, I feel as though this is something I will surely be able to do.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE 

“It’s making a difference,” says Dean of Education Dr. Jeff Orr, chair of the Jeannine Deveau Equity Endowment Fund Committee.

“We have recipients in all faculties, in all years of our degrees.”

Ms. Deveau, a member of the Class of 1944 who enjoyed a successful career as a nutrition professor in Montreal, gifted $8 million to StFX, the largest private alumni donation of its kind in StFX’s history. The fund can grow to $13 million as it is tied to a matching initiative from other sources.

StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor Terena Francis sees the impact.

“I have always worked in the education field, supporting Mi’kmaq students from pre-school, primary to Grade 12 and now in university. My previous job was working at a P-12 public school for 13 years supporting students from the Paqtnkek community,” she says.

“I have always seen the potential in the Mi’kmaw students I worked with, however, for different reasons some weren’t reaching their full potential. I feel that there were a lot of reasons why, such as lack of funding, lack of supports, lack of understanding, etc. I believe with the Jeannine Deveau Equity Endowment Fund we are supporting university students to reach their full potential, whether it be through programming, financial support, educational support or cultural support. I feel that there is hope to ensure that access to education is equitable for all.”

Similarly, Kelsey Jones, who started as the African Descent Student Affairs Coordinator at StFX only months ago, has already witnessed the tremendous impact the Deveau Equity Endowment Fund has on the African Nova Scotian students on campus.

“Through scholarships and bursaries, this fund has helped to address some of the historical disadvantages in accessing post-secondary education and has allowed students to focus on what is most important, their studies,” she says.

“In addition, the emergency fund has acted as a safeguard for students who find themselves in financial difficulty and might otherwise have to discontinue their studies due to money constraints. Lastly, this fund has provided opportunities for my office to deliver more cultural programming to enhance the experience of not only African Nova Scotian Students, but also all students on campus. The Deveau Equity Endowment Fund enriches the lives of StFX students and continues to assist in fostering a more inclusive campus."

Dr. Orr says the Deveau fund is providing incentive for Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotia students to enter programs of their academic choice and be supported and rewarded for their work. It’s also attracting more students from these populations, he says.

“This has provided a wonderful opportunity for StFX to specifically address the reconciliation with two historically marginalized communities to better support people from these communities to have access to university studies,” he says.

“It’s also provided opportunity for people in different departments across campus to come together in support of these two communities.” 

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