Giving a global opportunity
It was during 2008 Reunion celebrations — the Class of 1973’s 35th Reunion — that the life officers initiated discussions about a class legacy project, and the idea of sponsoring a bursary focusing on international travel and exchange opportunities for students took hold.
“This is a project that resonated with a lot of people, not just members of the Class of ’73,” says Jill (Hemeon) Rafuse (’73), who agreed to spearhead the fund raising. “When we were in university there wasn’t as much opportunity to travel internationally during your studies. It wasn’t as common as it is now. But this kind of experience can really broaden a student’s global perspective. Helping make these experiences possible for students was something a lot of us could get behind.”
The Class of 1973 International Exchange Travel Bursary, currently the only class project with this particular focus, was launched in 2008. Within five years, the class and other project supporters had raised enough to begin awarding bursaries to Mount Allison students. To date, approximately 20 Mount Allison students have received the bursary to assist in international travel and studies.
Rafuse says she and her classmates enjoy hearing from student recipients and learning about their travels. Thank you notes have come from students on exchange around the globe — including Norway, France, Hong Kong, Japan, and Spain — and have been shared at reunions and on the Class of 1973 Facebook page.
“It’s wonderful for students to have these kinds of opportunities,” says Rafuse. “I remember reading one note from a student taking part in a year-long exchange in Strasbourg where she was studying French, politics, and history. What could be more renaissance than that?”
Paige Percy (’20), an honours political science student with minors in philosophy and international politics, spent a semester studying at the City University of Hong Kong in her third year. She says the Class of 1973 bursary helped enrich her exchange experience.
“With the extra financial support from the bursary, I was able to travel along with my classes, visiting mainland China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea,” says Percy. “That semester I learned so much about the world around us. These valuable life lessons will make an impact on the ways I approach my studies, interest, and future goals. Thank you, Class of ’73!”
Marcie Meekins (’12), Mount Allison’s manager of alumni giving, says class projects play a pivotal role in student support.
“We’ve seen many students benefit from bursaries and scholarships, campus resources such as The Meighen Centre, and funds to help support them in specific endeavours, like the international exchange travel bursary,” says Meekins. “Anyone can support a class project whether they are a member of that year or not. And, if there’s a particular area alumni would like to support, they can speak with University Advancement about starting a class project for their grad year.”
Rafuse says she and her classmates hope that others will continue this support for students pursuing international experiences as part of their Mount Allison education.
“Our 50th Reunion will be coming up in 2023. The goal is to celebrate meeting the fund raising target of $100,000 that weekend,” she says.
To learn more about the Class of 1973 International Exchange Travel Bursary, or class projects and other funds, please visit mta.ca/giving. There are 35 active class projects at Mount Allison.
Top photo: Paige Percy (’20), an honours political science student with minors in philosophy and international politics, spent a semester studying at the City University of Hong Kong in her third year.
Second photo: The Class of 1973 at Reunion 2008