Big Plans for a Small Class

Charlotte Blinston & other Cmp12 grads at convocation
Charlotte Blinston (third from the left) at convocation with fellow Cmp'12 & Cmp'11 graduates
Ideally, I’m trying to establish a legacy of class giving for all Computer Science classes going forward

When Charlotte Blinston, Cmp’12, began planning for her 5th reunion, she realized she was working with a blank slate.

“Computer Science isn’t like Engineering where there are so many traditions and so much history,” the Cmp’12 reunion coordinator says. “That was one of the things that really stuck out to me when I started planning for Homecoming.”

So, in celebration of her first Homecoming, Ms. Blinston is making big plans to give back. She decided early on that, in addition to planning activities for Homecoming weekend, philanthropy was going to be part of her reunion plans. “I know it’s a five-year reunion and many of us are still trying to break into our careers and pay off student debt, so for us higher amounts are out of reach,” she says.  “We aren’t a big class, but even small gifts help. If everyone contributed a small amount, that can mean one student is offered acceptance into Queen’s that might have picked somewhere else.”

Her ambitions however, are bigger than her own class. “Ideally, I’m trying to establish a legacy of class giving for all Computer Science classes going forward,” says Ms. Blinston. “One of my larger goals is to keep alumni, whether it’s my class or future classes, engaged. When the next class starts planning, we can say that Cmp’12 did these things, so that there will be information and support moving forward.”

Class giving is a tradition as old as Homecoming at Queen’s. Since the 1920s, classes have used their reunion milestones as opportunities to give back to the university. Some classes chose to establish their own funds, but Ms. Blinston and her class have opted to support two existing student awards at Queen’s, The Kirk and Sandra Robinson Scholarship and the Ann Bodnarchuk Memorial Award.  The Robinson Scholarship is awarded on the basis of academic excellence to students entering first year in the School of Computing.  The Bodnarchuk Award was established in memory of Anne Bodnarchuk, BA'57, LLD'84, who had a distinguished career with Air Canada and was the company's first female Vice-President. It is awarded on the basis of need and academic merit to an upper year student in the School of Computing.

While these awards aren’t specifically targeted to women, Ms. Blinston strongly believes that financial support is a key part of encouraging more women to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields – particularly computer science. “In high school when I first started taking computer science courses, I was one of three girls. By the time I graduated I was the only girl that planned to go on and stick with it in my post-secondary education,” she says.

Like many high-achieving students, Ms. Blinston had offers from a number of universities, but it was the financial support that Queen’s offered that helped her make her choice.  Now, after completing a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering from Western University focused on quantifying histological features in temporal lobe epilepsy, she is interning in the Office of Research at the University of Waterloo. Through the internship, which is sponsored by the Ontario Brain Institute, Ms. Blinston provides business development and technology transfer support to researchers and start-up companies.

Support the Cmp'12 Class Giving Campaign.

Learn more about Class Giving or find out if your class has a fund.