By Dan Blackwell
What better way to commemorate Victoria University's 187th birthday than by honouring student achievement? At Vic's annual Charter Day and Convocation ceremony on Oct. 11, which recognizes the day Victoria University was founded by royal charter from King William IV, faculty and staff celebrated the more than 1,200 students who received scholarships and awards provided by members of Vic’s community.
After the ceremony, Vic alumni and donors had the opportunity to personally connect with students. John Grant Vic 8T3 and Susan Gillmeister Vic 8T1 met fourth-year student Judith Joshi and fourth-year student Giedre Alsaadi, both of whom received the 1980s Legacy Scholarship. Spearheaded by Gillmeister and Grant along with classmate John Saunders Vic 8T3, the 1980s Legacy Scholarship was created to honour the graduates of their decade and is awarded to Victoria College students who have achieved excellence in their studies and have been actively involved in Vic campus life. Gillmeister says that the scholarship was also founded in honour of the passing of one of their friends, Peter Stokreef Vic 8T3. “We just felt like a tight-knit group who wanted to give back and honour those from our years who are no longer with us,” she says.
For Joshi, receiving the 1980s Legacy Scholarship was a game-changer. “With the condition of the economy right now this scholarship will really help,” he says. “It will allow me to consider getting a master’s degree or going to med school.”
Similarly, Alsaadi says the 1980s Legacy Scholarship offers the chance to continue her education and one day help create a better world. “These scholarships don’t go to waste,” she says. “Thanks to donations like these, I hope to go onto my master’s studies where I can focus on environmental sustainability to help us transition into a more sustainable future.”
Former Victoria University chancellor Wendy Cecil C.M. Vic 7T1 was also present for this year’s Charter Day. Cecil played a significant role in the day’s ceremony, introducing honorary degree recipient Jill Heinerth, a deep-sea diver, filmmaker and environmental advocate. Afterwards, Cecil met with second-year student Jacob Mark Stoutchinine, recipient of The Wayne Reesor Thomas Scholarship. As the scholarship’s founder, Cecil says it was important they connect.
“Meeting the recipient of this scholarship feels like a chance to touch the future,” she says. “The scholarship was named after a dear friend of mine who passed away, and it’s incredible to be able to meet somebody who is going to benefit from it.”
Stoutchinine, who received the scholarship for academic excellence in his first year of study, says he was honoured to be recognized and hopes to one day pay it forward.
“I would love to give back to future generations,” he says. “I would love to have a scholarship named after me someday.”
Also in attendance for Charter Day was Ellen Edmonds, founder of the George W. Edmonds Scholarship, created in memory of her late husband, George Edmonds Vic 4T8.
“George embodied the Vic spirit,” says Edmonds. “Victoria College was very important to him, and he formed friendships at Vic that carried on all throughout his life.”
A Gold Medal recipient himself, George had a long and successful career as a lawyer and served on the Victoria College Board of Regents from 1958 to 1974. Edmonds says her husband never missed an opportunity to attend a reunion or chat with current students.
"George was a humble man, so he might say he doesn’t deserve to have a scholarship named after him, but I know he would be very happy to see some of his money helping Victoria College students in need.”