Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX welcomes over 200 African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq high school students to campus to learn about academic and scholarship opportunities

February 12th, 2019
Over 200 high school students took part in the first annual Jeannine Deveau Future Scholars’ Day

The energy and potential found inside the Mount Saint Bernard chapel classroom on Feb. 12 was palpable as over 200 African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq high school students from across the province were welcomed to StFX for the first annual Jeannine Deveau Future Scholars’ Day.

The students, on campus to learn about academic and scholarship opportunities at StFX, came from high schools from Sydney to Halifax, and participated in a full day of activity from an open house, learning about program options and speaking with StFX faculty, to campus tours, and lunch at Morrison Hall. 

“I’m very happy about today, to see so many high school students, teachers, and principals on campus,” said Augy Jones, StFX Manager, Student Experience.

During welcoming remarks, Mr. Jones, like several other speakers, encouraged the students to take charge of their future and see what opportunities are available for them.

In particular, at StFX, the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship, first announced in October 2015, has the power to transform lives. The intent of the fund, set up by Jeannine Deveau from the StFX Class of 1944, is to make university education more equitable and easier to access for Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians.

Currently, there are 80 students at StFX who are Deveau scholarship and bursary recipients. 

EXPLORING THE FUTURE

“StFX is a place where you are welcome,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald told students in his remarks as he thanked everyone for visiting and highlighted the importance of the day, and learning about post-secondary options. 

Nowhere in this story is it said that it is going to be easy, Dr. MacDonald said, but at StFX you have a community where you can grow, learn to think differently, and that your life going forward is a little better because of being on this campus. 

“This is a great day,” agreed the Hon. Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotia Affairs. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication shown by you, young scholars.

“I’m overwhelmed when I look out and see so many of you, many of whom look like me, exploring their future,” he said. 

“I thank you for taking the opportunity to expand your horizons, which in turn will help expand our communities.”

Mr. Ince told the students there are many supports available to them, but they are only there if they have a passion to seek out and go after what they want. “Don’t let anybody hold you back,” he said, as he encouraged the students to bring their community, their home, their strong voices, and their perspectives with them as they explore their future education. 

The open house provided students and faculty a chance to chat about academic opportunities

StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley told the students that StFX will change their life—there are so many opportunities at the university—but so too will the students change the university, he said. “Your generation is so important. It is asking ‘why aren’t I represented in the history books.’ You are here to change the university and you will, that is the demand your generation is making, and we are better for that.”

Fund administrator and Ms. Deveau’s nephew, Bill Gunn, gave a bit of history of the scholarship, including his aunt’s desire to try to make difference in addressing issues of equity in education, and her belief that investment in education gives the highest return. 

The students also had a chance to hear from current Jeannine Deveau bursary recipient, John Hodder, a fourth year human kinetics student, who encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities available.

He said the bursary not only helped him with financial costs, it allowed him to focus on his studies. 

“The Jeannine Deveau Bursary has helped me immensely,” he said, as he thanked all those involved in its creation and administration. 

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