Recognizing the accomplishments of mature women students

Recognizing the accomplishments of mature women students

The Ban Righ Foundation gave out its annual spring awards as it builds momentum for its 50th anniversary celebration.

By Communications Staff

May 24, 2024


Ban Righ Awards recipients

Recipients of the Ban Righ Foundation's spring awards at a recent reception on campus. (Kristen Ritchie)

The Ban Righ Centre at Queen’s University is celebrating the achievements of mature women students with this year’s spring awards, which were presented to 14 recipients at a recent reception on campus.

“Mature women students at Queen’s are doing some amazing things, and these awards are an opportunity to show how proud we are of them as a community,” says Taylor Cenac, Student Advisor & Program Coordinator, Ban Righ Centre. “And it's not just the spring awards recipients we recognize at the Spring Celebration. Students and guest speakers alike celebrated the work of all mature women students, including many alumni whose innovation and forethought have made the work of the Ban Righ Centre possible for the past fifty years. I am honored to get to be a part of such a rich tradition."

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. The centre offers student advising, workspaces, free soup lunches, and quiet spaces for breastfeeding. It also provides opportunities to make connections with peers at events like film screenings and lectures.

The first Ban Righ Foundation Awards Ceremony was held in the fall of 1993 and gave out a small number of awards. By the late 1990s the celebration had been moved to the spring, and additional awards were added to the program. The awards, generously funded by donors, provide financial assistance to students on the basis of need and merit. 

“In the past year, I have come to embrace the vulnerability that comes along with graduate work as a mature woman and mother,” says Alexandra McDonald, recipient of one of two Diane McKenzie Awards and a graduate student in the Translational Medicine program. “The Ban Righ Centre community has had a pivotal role in this, as it is here where I have rediscovered the authenticity that can be swept away in the (sometimes) grueling world of academia. Feeling seen and accepted fully has translated into viewing myself more compassionately in difficult moments - and kept me moving forward towards my goal."

The awards provide recipients with not only financial assistance but also encouragement to continue their educational journey.

“I am a wife, a mother of four daughters, and my vision is to contribute to the appreciation of various cultures and acceptance of others around the world,” says Faten Mitwasi, a doctoral student in the Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies program who received the Elizabeth Wallace Bursary, which is awarded to a mature woman student in her first year at Queen’s. “Receiving the award has been a beacon of hope for me. It encourages me and reinforces my life-changing decision concerning pursuing my PhD education in a new country across the ocean and far away from home.”

Fifty years of supporting women

The Ban Righ Centre will have additional opportunities to celebrate this year as 2024 marks its 50th anniversary. Celebrations of the milestone kicked off in fall 2023 with the launch of the Who is She? fundraising campaign, which invites members of the Queen’s community to celebrate an influential woman in their life. Other highlights will include the Where Are They Now? series, which will tell the stories of alumni, and the Legacy Event where staff and community members will be unveiling a plaque in honour of the founders and supporters of the Ban Righ Foundation. Celebrations will culminate in the 50th anniversary gala, set for October 24, 2024.

Learn more on the Ban Righ Centre website.

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