On Nov. 14, UFV hosted its annual “Town & Gown” event in Evered Hall — a formal event made to fundraise for student bursaries and scholarships, and thank donors for their contributions. As one of UFV’s main community events, Town & Gown promotes supporting students through the Changing Lives, Building Community Scholarship Endowment.
This year’s focus for the event was student engagement. New to Town & Gown this year, each table included a student ambassador to speak to guests about how UFV has changed their lives and is helping them advance in their goals. As well, student Gina Dhinsa, recipient of the President’s Entrance Scholarship, was put in the spotlight with an opportunity to speak about what she is doing in the community, her career and education goals, and even her “ultimate ambition” — as MC Dave Pinton put it — to become Canada’s Minister of International Development.
“That’s what this event is about. It’s about celebrating what the donor’s generosity allows for the students to do,” Ian Wilson, a student ambassadors, said. “With myself, it’s being able to put my whole heart and soul into my studies here without having to worry about the money, and what I’ve seen that do for other people as well.”
The Changing Lives, Building Community Scholarship Endowment — the scholarship that proceeds from this event went towards — is based on financial need, but is also focused on students seeking to make a change in the community, such as those like Dhinsa.
Town & Gown is designed to celebrate students, alumni, and community, with over 250 attendees comprising entrepreneurs, government leaders, representatives of service organizations and member-based associations, highly involved students, alumni, donors, and UFV employees. This year’s Distinguished Alumni award winners were Liz Harris and Andrew Alexander, and both individuals are examples of how one is transformed by university.
Transformation was another focus at this year’s Town & Gown. In UFV President Joanne MacLean’s speech, she discussed how UFV “facilitates transformations”: Harris had come to UFV with the aspiration of becoming a teacher and left a professional fundraiser, and Alexander had only ever been homeschooled before coming to university, but was invited by UBC to transition straight into a PhD after completing his master’s there.
In MacLean’s speech, she thanked donors and backers for being “ripplemakers” who, by supporting students and students’ ability to incite change, have been the catalyst for the ripple of change itself.
“And that’s what university is about: it’s about the students, it’s about the work that they’ve put in, the passion that they’ve put in, because that’s what makes a university,” Wilson said.
Image: The Cascade