As an alumni and staff member for over 20 years, LCVI student services enrichment counsellor Martha Read-Gray said she’s seen a huge change in the amount of students that were trying to go to college or university.
Read-Gray stated that her work as a guidance counsellor made her acutely aware of an increasing number of “potential post-secondary graduates who do not apply, or do not attend, and who are completely dispirited by their lack of prospects due to the financial means they have.”
“Unlike when we were graduating, students in many cases cannot afford to attend university without some form of financial support,” said Read-Gray. “The reality of today is that many of our students have very little means.”
Read-Gray spearheaded a project called The LCVI Lancer Gratitude Project for the Post-Secondary Charitable Trust Fund. Thanks to the Trust Fund, approximately $15,000 each year is provided towards helping students cover application fees, tuition and residence deposits, school supplies, assistive technology, and/or food.
A single tuition deposit for one student can be over $500, according to Read-Gray. She said the fund “goes really fast, but it’s so worth it to give students an opportunity.”
LCVI has a family-oriented culture, according to Read-Gray. She said that the school’s motto of “Grit, Growth, and Gratitude” was “never more poignant than in the reality of the changing landscape of our society, its limiting economic structure, and narrow opportunities for hard-working LCVI graduates.”
This year’s fund has already received over $16,000 in donations. The cafeteria, which is staffed entirely by students, donated this year’s profits to the fund. Read-Gray said that the donation was a “huge boost” that exemplified the cycle of gratitude in the LCVI community. After reaching out over email and social media, the Trust received a surge of donations from alumni.
“I’m comforted to know that despite the changing times, the genuine desire to resourcefully help fellow students exceed their potentials remains unchanged at LCVI,” one alumni wrote. “My own experiences with LC faculty tells me this will undoubtedly hold strong for the coming future.”
Another alumni lauded LCVI’s support of students, and said “I think I’m still only just coming to appreciate the very surface of the countless hours our educators dedicated to provide the support and encouragement I was privileged to enjoy. I’m proud of how their efforts have helped carve my character for the better.”
After reading about Queen’s Students For Students, a student-lead movement to pledge 10 per cent tuition cut to students affected by OSAP reductions, Read-Gray said that it was a relief to know that students attending Queen’s who depend on financial support will have access to other programs after leaving LCVI.
“We’re really trying to launch students so they can get to post-secondary,” said Read-Gray. “It was so heartwarming to see Students For Students wanting to keep them there.”
Read-Gray acknowledged that surmounting financial barriers to post-secondary education would be incredibly difficult for many students, and said the “last five years in particular have really drained their hopes and dreams.”
The need for the fund was “a statement of the times,” according to Read-Gray, who noted “It feels very much like the masses are trying to be kept in their place, and that’s not what we’re about.”
“At LCVI, We’re about education, we’re about furthering hopes and dreams, and getting as far as we can,” said Read-Gray. “It’s important to say ‘you’re not going to keep us where we are, we have to get educated.’ It’s important to be part of this revolution.”
Donations can be given online at the LCVI Lancer Gratitude Project webpage.
Cheques can be sent to the LDSB office at 220 Portsmouth Ave. Those who wish to donate are asked to mark envelopes “ATTN: Leila Cassim” and put “LCVI Post-secondary Charitable Trust Fund” in the cheque memo line.