Celebrating inspiring women

community impact

Celebrating inspiring women

The Ban Righ Centre is sharing tributes to women as it builds momentum for a milestone anniversary.

By Andrew Willson, Senior Communications Officer

November 16, 2023


Queen's students and staff preparing the daily soup lunch in the Ban Righ Centre kitchen.

Tibeb Debele (PhD student, School of Rehabilitation Therapy), Susan Belyea (Director, Ban Righ Centre), and Elham Yousefinejad (PhD'23) preparing a soup lunch for the Ban Righ Centre community.

Members of the Queen’s community are taking advantage of a special opportunity to recognize women who have inspired them or made a profound impact on their lives. The Ban Righ Centre’s Who Is She? campaign is gathering these tributes from the campus community and beyond as part of a fundraising drive in honour of the centre’s 50th anniversary.  

The Ban Righ Centre on Bader Lane was established in 1974 to provide support for mature women students returning to university. It assists women students of all ages and provides a safe and respectful environment where they are encouraged to connect with one another.

“In the Ban Righ Centre’s first fifty years, we’ve had the privilege of supporting many truly remarkable women,” says Susan Belyea, Director, Ban Righ Centre. “This campaign gives our community the chance to celebrate them and other women like them, who too often go unrecognized. It’s also a chance to help set up the centre for our next fifty years of supporting women students at Queen’s and giving them a warm and respectful community on campus.”

The Who Is She? webpage already features many heartfelt tributes to inspiring women who have made a difference in the lives of members of the Queen’s community. Tibeb Debele, doctoral student in rehabilitation science and fellow in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, honours her mother in one entry.

“My mom, Yeharerwork, is the epitome of strength,” says Debele. “She married young, at 15, and started a family, eventually having seven children. At age 35, her life took a turn when she lost her husband due to political unrest in Ethiopia. Suddenly, she was a single mother of seven children, all under 15 years of age. My mom had no college degree or a job, but she didn't give up. She pulled herself together and started working as a laborer to provide for us. Despite all the hardships, she raised her kids with love, undivided attention, and a better education.”

The Who Is She? campaign kicks off a year of celebrations of women at Queen’s, culminating in a 50th anniversary gala in October 2024. Other highlights will include the Where Are They Now? campaign, which will tell the stories of alumni, and Lifetime Achievement Awards recognizing years of contributions from select women at Queen’s.

Building community for 50 years

The centre builds community and supports students in a variety of ways. It offers student advising, workspaces, free soup lunches, and quiet spaces for breastfeeding. It provides opportunities to make connections with peers at events like film screenings and lectures. The Ban Righ Centre also offers financial assistance to mature women students based on need.

“The Ban Righ Centre often becomes a favourite place on campus for the people who use it,” says Belyea. “I know from experience, since it played a huge role in making me feel supported when I was earning my PhD as a mature student at Queen’s. We’re excited to celebrate our 50th anniversary and all the women who have made the centre such a special place.”

Learn more on the BRC website and read more tributes on the Who Is She? campaign webpage.

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