Heather Mirau and Dr. Jan Newberry have teamed up on several projects at the University of Lethbridge in the past, but their current joint effort is one the duo is particularly passionate about: Co-Chairing the 2014-15 Supporting Our Students (SOS) campaign.
Newberry, a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and long-time SOS contributor, says the opportunity to Co-Chair has given her a broader perspective on the University, something she says her counterpart, Mirau, has always had.
“As director of Integrated Planning, Heather has a comprehensive view of the University, which as a faculty member, I don’t always see,” says Newberry. “Being Co-Chair of SOS gives me a sense of the U of L on a global scale and how important it is to create a caring university community.”
Last year, the U of L awarded 2,100 scholarships and bursaries to students, more than $3.5 million in total. SOS is an essential part of that support. Participation in the program reached its highest level in 2013, with a total of 377 faculty, staff and retirees supporting the campaign – a number that Mirau and Newberry would like to see increase.
“It doesn’t matter if you give $5 or $100, your participation is what matters,” says Mirau. “Through SOS, we have the opportunity to make a real difference with students and have a positive impact on campus life. SOS donations go directly to students to help pay for books and tuition, enabling them to graduate. With SOS, everybody wins. The University isn’t just a place to attend classes – it’s a community unto itself. We have a responsibility as faculty and staff to help create a positive, caring community.”
Kathy MacFarlane, manager of development programs and a long-time SOS contributor, says that SOS helps to inspire and support student potential, and is a great example of why the U of L is Alberta’s Destination University.
“The U of L is a phenomenal place to be, as a student and as an employee,” says MacFarlane. “If we can show students and each other that we care about our people, that speaks directly to the kind of university the U of L aims to be.”
Among the thousands of recipients of SOS funds is Kevan Bryant (BA/BED ’12), a graduate student completing a Master of Education degree in counselling psychology. Bryant says that the support she received through SOS was game changing on many levels.
“The scholarships I received took a lot of pressure off. I was able to focus on my studies, pursue other interests and avoid working excessive hours while attending school,” says Bryant. “I’m not sure I would have continued with a master’s program if it weren’t for SOS – and it wasn’t only academic achievement I was rewarded for. I received awards for volunteering and leadership as well. SOS made me realize that going the extra mile is really worth it.”
And at the end of the day, that’s what Newberry says SOS is all about.
“We are all here because of students, so it’s only right to support them. I’m happy to support today’s students because they’re the people who will build and shape our future.”
Support our students and contribute to SOS today. Sign up through payroll deduction.