The creation of the Student Refugee Bursary


How the class of 2018 is imprinting their legacy

As the end approaches for the senior class at StFX, one may begin to wonder what mark the class of 2018 will be leaving on the University. How will the graduates and alumni continue to foster and support the community? The graduating class co-presidents have been working all year in order to ensure that this years grads leave a special legacy to be remembered by and are able to contribute long into the future.

This years graduating class is represented by Alex Corrigan and Rachel Leblanc. Alex is a fourth year advanced Chemistry major and Rachel is a fourth year student majoring in Development Studies and Economics. Rachel also worked with the student’s union last year in an executive position as the Vice President of Activities and Events which she notes contributes to her ability to hold her current position. Together they make the hard-working, co-presidents of the graduating class of 2018.

Leblanc and Corrigan’s job is to work as liaisons between the graduating class and the alumni association of StFX. They do things such as sit on the X-Ring committee and represent the student voice when it comes to finding candle bearers, speakers and student participants for the X-Ring ceremony. They also sit on the graduation committee and create relationships with alumni networks in order to allow graduates a space to continue to be connected to StFX. For those who are graduating however, these two are also responsible for keeping you in the loop. They organize grad clothing, grad photos, different workshops and events in hopes of making your final year as fun, informative and successful as possible.

When the Xaverian sat down with these two earlier this week they were quick to mention their passion for the class of 2018. For them this class is a special group that cares about one another and the wider StFX and Antigonish community. When the nominations went out for candle-bearer and X-ring speaker there were over 130 submissions averaging about 20 minutes each. As Corrigan points out this means the class of 2018 spent over 44 hours writing compliments about one another whom they thought would be best represented in these roles.

It was this passion that drove the idea of the class of 2018 student legacy project: the Student Refugee Bursary. The idea for this specific project came from Corrigan himself but he humbly remarks that the vision was inspired by a comment made by student Will O’Dwyer who, during a Facebook town hall live stream, asked what the class of 2018 would be doing to leave their mark on the community. This comment generated lots of support and encouraged Corrigan to think of a way to encompass the compassion of the 2018 class into a legacy that we could continue into the future.

The Student Refugee Bursary will be a bursary that will be awarded to a student of refugee status in order to subsidize the costs of being at StFX. Leblanc points out that being at X costs a lot more than tuition alone. Residence, books and a social life is difficult for many to afford. The Student Refugee Bursary will be an endowed bursary within the Xaverian fund. With the support of the school, town, students and alumni, the co-presidents are hoping to raise 50,000 dollars towards the bursary by the end of the year. Within the Xaverian fund the endowment will have an opportunity to grow each year, and that growth will then go directly to the student who is awarded it.

This initiative has been receiving support from many areas of the community. The University Chancellor has agreed to match student contributions to the bursary, the X-Ring store has committed to donating 100% of it’s net proceeds to the project, and the class of 2018 has teamed up with StFX for SAFE and StFX WUSC society to contribute the funds they raise through fundraisers like grilled cheese and coat check. Corrigan and Leblanc have also managed to secure a lottery license which will allow them to create a lottery for hand crafted tartan scarves which has been successful in past years and allows the class to reach out for support from the wider Antigonish community.

2018 grads have also been given the opportunities to contribute perhaps without even knowing it as part of the funds from one month 'til X Ring cover, graduation clothing and graduation pictures will also go towards the 50,000 dollar goal. Money is tight for many at the moment so the fact that graduates have the opportunity to contribute in these ways makes the project that much more meaningful.

However, the project does not end with graduation. The bursary itself will continue to grow and be apart of the Xaverian fund into the future. The co-presidents point out that the arrival of Syrian Refugees has done so much for our campus and town community over the past few years. Having Syrian individuals in our communities have brought businesses such as Peace by Chocolate, but have also contributed to making our learning spaces more diverse and enriching. Through this bursary Leblanc and Corrigan wish to give more students of refugee status a chance to come to StFX and share in the experience of being a part of this community.