Late Ryerson University chancellor Raymond Chang’s spirit was alive last week as community members of the school that bears his name were recognized for significant academic performance and leadership.
The philanthropist and first Caribbean-born national to serve as the ceremonial head of a Canadian university died last July.
Outgoing president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Sheldon Levy and Donette Chin-Loy – Chang’s widow who delivered the keynote speech – injected some of his quotes pertaining to the value of education in their presentations.
“Ray felt strongly about the transformation that education can achieve and he always said that it levels the playing field, helps to eradicate barriers and gives us the power to build bridges of friendships, respect, inclusion and community,” said Chin-Loy, who graduated from Ryerson in 1978 and is a strong supporter of the institution.
Opened nine years ago, the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada’s foremost provider of university-based adult education.
“It’s a special honour to be invited to speak in the school named after Ray,” said Chin-Loy, a former CBC radio reporter/producer. “I know how much it meant to him and how it reflects the things he believed most fervently in. When Ray and I talked about following our parents’ example, we agreed the focus would be on education and lifelong learning because education never ends. It really is another step along that long journey. Tonight, we are recognizing how you took that step with great effort and immense dedication and how you seized the moment and the opportunity.
“I believe a good opportunity should never be missed, even when it appears as a challenge. It forces us to think deeper about the difference we can actually make because we have extended ourselves beyond our boundaries and, in doing so, we are able to seize the moment and make good of it.”
In choosing the Chang School and its programs to pursue higher education, Chin-Loy assured the award recipients they have made the right choice.
Offering 88 career-related certificate programs and numerous course series along with 22 certificate programs that can be completed entirely at a distance, the school’s flexible and accessible programming is available on campus, via distance education and off-site for employee groups at leading organizations.
“It’s an extraordinary place at which to follow your dreams,” she said. “From the vast range of programs and course choices, you can consider the form your contributions will take and you have a lifetime to do it. Your leadership in learning is as much about your future path and the road you took to reach to this point.”
Brenda Namulindwa, who migrated with her family from Uganda 13 years ago, was awarded the Josette Billich Nursing Scholarship.
“This scholarship is most meaningful because Ryerson is a wonderful place to study,” said the third-year nursing student, who also volunteers with the elderly and people with special needs. “My focus as a nurse is to put patients first so they can maintain their autonomy, dignity and well-being.”
Namulindwa plans to build a school and orphanage in Uganda.
A Justice of the Peace and Canadian Forces reservist, Samuel Billich has been presenting the scholarship in his Jamaican-born mother’s name since 2009. She was a nurse for 35 years.
Kasha Arthurton and Christine Gordon were the recipients of the inaugural Wellesley Institute-Blickstead Family Award that recognizes academic excellence of students pursuing courses through the Spanning the Gaps-Access to Post-Secondary Education program.
Arthurton aspires to be a certified art therapist, while Gordon, who works at a homeless shelter, is aiming to become an addiction counsellor.
Levy applauded the winners for their determination to excel academically
“Not only are you leaders, but you are also the leaders in your community,” he said. “There are many stories of success here tonight and for that I extend my congratulations to all of you.”