The 40th anniversary was the perfect time for the unveiling of the updated Not for Ourselves Alone Legacy Society plaque by Barbara (Sanderson) Armstrong ’55, past Foundation trustee and Lisa (Greczmiel) Roberts ’82, Alumnae Association president to reveal eighty-five members including YHS Board members, Foundation trustees, Alumnae Association executives, alumnae, YHS staff, current parents and friends.
The recognition plaque hangs above the distinctive YHS Museum & Archives display case, a gift from a three generational York House family, Margaret (Shepard) Walwyn ’55, her daughter Catharine (Walwyn) Turner and granddaughters, Megan Walwyn ’15 and Claire Turner ’17. The case enables treasured archival artifacts to be brought out and shared with the whole community. The current display, arranged by archivist and curator Susannah Smith, features York House in the 1930s including the blazer of Corinth (Eckman) Carson ’35 from the first graduating class. Be sure to take a look when walking through the Gail Ruddy foyer!
The society was founded by Barbara (Sanderson) Armstrong ’55 in 1999 to recognize donors who have made a bequest in their will or other planned gift to the YHS Foundation in support of student scholarships and the school’s future. The YHS Endowment Fund was established four decades ago and thanks to the dedication of Foundation trustees, and the generosity of our Legacy Society members and donors, the fund continues to grow.
This year, fourteen students are recipients of either full or partial scholarships.
After the unveiling, champagne glasses clinked, our very own blend of Murchie’s YHS tea served and delicate sandwiches, boarder’s fare (brown bread with butter), scones and sweets were enjoyed by all.
The best was yet to come with speakers, Caitlin Ohama-Darcus ’07, a past Foundation scholarship recipient now with Nathanson, Schachter & Thompson LLP and grade 12 student Fiona Lang ’17, the Ursula Bell scholarship recipient, who is planning to study engineering.
Fiona spoke first and expressed what being a Yorkie and scholarship student has meant to her through her experiences in the math honours, the music and computer science programs.
Caitlin began with a dictionary. “I did as most young lawyers are trained to do: start with a search for the word “legacy”…Of all the definitions, the one that stood out for me the most was this: ‘a legacy is ‘a tangible or intangible thing handed down by a predecessor or the long-lasting effect of an event or process.’
My experience as a York House student and a Foundation scholar was one of those hugely significant events – or if I think about my development as a girl and young woman, one of those many-dimensional processes, whose impact continues for me to this day. Many, many moments stand out for me from my time at the school.”
Inspired by these two amazing young women, legacy members stayed on for the Celebrate Scholars program put on by current student scholars with the chance to meet them at the reception afterwards. Each legacy member received the new gold YHS Legacy Society pin with the York rose emblem.
Continuing her commitment to community through University
Skylar (centre) with her friends in New Orleans
Skylar, community service is important to you. Was this from attending YHS?
One of the reasons I decided to attend YHS was because of the high value placed on community service. As far back as I can recall I’ve always taken the time to volunteer, so attending YHS really instilled this emphasis on community engagement in me. Community service has allowed me to take an active role in my community, and has given me the opportunity to acquire knowledge and life skills while providing service to those who need it most.
Please tell us about your involvement with Habitat for Humanity?
I joined Western University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program during my freshman year. The program is designed to provide students with “Community Engaged Learning” by holding workshops throughout the year on intercultural communication, persistent social issues, and what we as students at a Canadian university can do about it. The program culminates into a both a local and global part of service learning.
For the global portion, I travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana during my Reading Week in 2015 to work with Habitat for Humanity on a few build sites. I was drawn to Habitat for Humanity because their business model engages both volunteers and the people who benefit from the housing projects. Volunteers are trained on how to work tools and residents of Habitat houses must dedicate hours of their own service into building the house.
I chose to work in New Orleans because I wanted to see the progress that the city had made in rebuilding itself during the ten years post Hurricane Katrina. I was surprised when I arrived in New Orleans: some wards I visited only contained empty lots and unpaved streets where vibrant houses and communities used to be. Districts that once were home to eight elementary schools now relied on only one because there weren’t enough funds to rebuild the rest. I found my experience so impactful in first year that I decided I wanted to develop the ASB program further, so during my second year I became one of the team leaders of the program. I helped to lead the workshops and organize the program, and in February of 2016 I led 40 students back to New Orleans to work on more house builds. The year that I led the New Orleans program was especially rewarding because I was able to help other students enjoy the same positive experience that I had from the year before.
Here’s a video that my co-leader made of the trip (I think I have a short cameo at the 11 second mark and a couple other places).
How did you find out about it?
Shortly into my first year of university, I started to feel overwhelmed. I was taking some lecture-based courses in which more than 550 students were enrolled and my university residence building housed over 1,000 students. Combined with living across the country and away from my family, I was exhausted from trying to keep up in school and get enough sleep and stay in touch with my friends. I realized that I really missed the feeling of fulfillment that I had from volunteering and working on community projects at YHS and the network of like-minded people I met through it. I felt disconnected from the very city I was living in (we call it the “Western University bubble” because the school acts as its own community): I couldn’t even name the major streets that were off campus. I decided to look for opportunities to involve myself in the London community and discovered the ASB program, offered through Western. Do you see yourself continuing your community service after graduation?
Absolutely. Giving time to my community is important to me and I can’t imagine it not extending beyond my graduation.
What are you studying and what do you see yourself doing after graduation?
I study business at the Ivey Business School, at Western University. I hope to work in health sector innovation after I graduate, possibly doing quality improvement projects in hospitals. I see myself at the intersection between healthcare and business – working to improve quality of life through improved healthcare. In this respect, I see myself managing projects to improve the quality of processes and care in hospitals (in a business operations or analytics capacity). I am also interested in how to incentivize profit-seeking medical device and pharmaceutical companies to invest in better healthcare innovation, while keeping the products of this innovation affordable to patients.
Any advice to new grads heading to Western this September?
Keep in touch with other Yorkies at your university! They know what you’re going through better than anyone.
You’ll learn just as much, if not more, outside of classes as you will in them, so be open to new opportunities and get involved with clubs, sports, and causes that you’re passionate about.
Buy a good quality winter jacket and snow boots (we had snow into April this year)!
Don’t forget, we’re always seeking YHS historical memorabilia for the Museum & Archives. If you’re going through your attic or basement and find any of our wish list items below that you’d like to donate, please contact Susannah Smith, YHS Archivist and Museum Curator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
early uniforms: Junior fawn-coloured dress, Senior white summer dress
What could these three things possibly have in common? The answer is this year’s Museum Ambassador badge and our museum tote bag!
The image on the one-inch badge that Junior School students receive when they complete their Museum Ambassador activities comes from an advertisement on page 34 of the 1941-42 Chronicle. At that time, the school’s uniform supplier was the Bay, and the ad features a black and white drawing of two girls wearing a facsimile of the YHS uniform.
We were then inspired by the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein to colourize the image and make it more vibrant for our Museum Ambassador badge.
The button was so well-received that we had it reproduced on a cotton tote bag to sell at the 2016 Holiday Market.
If you’re a fan, the badges and tote bags are available through the Alumnae and Advancement office on the third floor of the Senior School.
Head of School, Chantal Gionet, Executive Director Advancement Laura Edwards ‘74, and Andrea Jang ’00 from the New Yorkies YHS Alumnae Chapter hosted the annual alumnae event at Andrea’s residence in Manhattan on Thursday, April 27th.
13 women gathered to reminisce and share stories from their days at YHS, as well as recent personal and professional achievements.
One of the key highlights of the night was the multi-generational attendance from Nora Newlands ’67 and her daughter Lindsay Forbes ’96.
Other exciting news:
Charing Hui ‘06 was married in Vancouver last Fall and currently lives in NYC, working as a tax accountant.
Fashionistas: Nabila Dhanji ‘09 recently joined Theory & Helmut Lang as Chief of Staff, reporting to the CEO and Lesley Cheng ‘08 designs footwear at Loeffler Randall.
Studying in the City: Nicole Poon ‘11 recently started an optometry program in NYC, after completing her undergrad studies at McGill and Colette Richardson ‘16 is in a musical theatre and performing arts program.
Genevieve Leaf ‘05 searches for exciting locations for CBS TV shows; most recently she is working on the set of “Divorce”, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church.
Digital reporter Johanna Christina Li ‘12 is working at “Inside Edition” covering women’s experiences with Planned Parenthood.
We are very excited to welcome Anna Baird from the Class of 2003 to York House on April 18th. Join Anna, Global Client Executive at LinkedIn to learn about the digital guidance she gives her clients when it comes to LinkedIn and using the power of your network.
Anna will explore the ways that you can brand, educate and position yourself for your career aspirations.
Yorkies, this is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to get a job, get the next job, get a client, keep a client, or just to understand how to best present yourself on LinkedIn.
Presentation will be from 7-8pm followed by a networking reception.
Click here to read more about Anna and the conference she’s speaking at in Whistler on Thursday, April 20th.
The annual long table dinner at the Irish Heather pub hosted by the YHS Alumnae Association was held on Wednesday evening, March 29th and attracted alumnae from as recent as 2016 all the way back to 1975. It was a very enjoyable evening with many conversations and new connections made.
Dr. Robyn Woodward ’72 recently came back to York House to share her amazing and evolving career path in Senior School Assembly. A fourth generation Vancouverite and a second generation Yorkie, Robyn is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Archaeology Department at Simon Fraser University where she frequently teachers a third year course in Maritime Archaeology and numerous courses in continuing education.
After only a few minutes into her presentation, it was evident that Robyn has taken lifelong learning to new heights. Driven by her passion for archaeology, art and adventure, she has chartered her course to be able to explore these all over the world. At least two months a year, she can be found lecturing on expedition ships from the Canadian Arctic to the Mediterranean while also directing work at archaeological sites in Jamaica.
“I graduated from Queens University in 1977 with a BA (Hons) in the History of Art with a minor in Classical Studies. The interdisciplinary nature of humanities, the study of philosophy, religion, history, art and culture, have been a huge influence throughout my career. As I loved art and archaeology, I pursued a second undergraduate degree, a BSc (Hons) in Art Conservation and Restoration of Archaeological Materials at the University College in Cardiff, Wales.”
Robyn shared that after graduation in 1979, she ran up against the age old conundrum ‘You can’t get a job unless you have experience and you can’t get experience unless you have a job.’ Her solution was to volunteer. “I took up an internship with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) in Bodrum, Turkey. The experience was invaluable. Internships open doors to a whole network of people and possibilities. In my case it sent me off along a slightly different career path, the study of maritime archaeology.”
In 1980 Robyn enrolled at Texas A & M University in a new master’s program in Nautical Archaeology, which at the time was the only place in the world that offered such a degree. There are now a number of such programs (see links below).
“In the summer of 1981, I joined a team of fellow graduate students in Jamaica. This turned into a 12-year project to excavate the submerged pirate city of Port Royal, Jamaica. Several years later, I returned to Jamaica to do my research for my doctoral studies at the same site that I studied for my MA. Sevilla la Nueva is the early 16th century Spanish capital of Jamaica, which was founded by Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego Colon in 1509 and was abandoned in 1534. I excavated the first sugar mill in the New World, sugar being the industry that changed the demographics of the Americas, as it was the driver for the African slave trade. I still direct the work at this site and over the past 10 years have excavated an abbey, settler’s houses, a butchery and a 16th century sculptor’s workshop.”
An exciting five-year stint followed where Robyn worked in the Grand Caymans in the submarine tourism business. In 1989, she returned to Vancouver to restart her career. “I did so by first volunteering with organizations which had an affinity with my interests in maritime history and archaeology, the Vancouver Maritime Museum (VMM), and the Underwater Archaeological Society of BC (UASBC).” Robyn went on to serve on many boards including MOSAIC, the York House School Foundation, and the Vancouver Richmond Health Board (now part of Vancouver Coastal Health). In 2000, Robyn was awarded the YWCA Women of Distinction Community Volunteer Award.
“Throughout my career, I have embraced the notion that learning is a lifelong activity. I had began a PhD at Simon Fraser University in Archaeology in late 1999 and re-focused my volunteer activities to serve on committees and boards of the professional societies in my own discipline, the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Historical Archaeology, and its Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology. I completed my PhD in 2007.
Pursuing volunteering opportunities has always opened doors to a vast array of new possibilities. While serving on the board of Vancouver Maritime Museum 20 years ago, I volunteered to do a one-week cruise up the coast of BC to present a few talks on the history of the province and Canada. When the company Lindblad Expeditions needed a historian/archaeologist to lecture on their first cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean, I raised my hand again. Over the last 16 years, I have become the company’s Mediterranean/maritime expert. I now spend two months a year lecturing on their many small expedition ships. As Lindblad also does all the cruises for National Geographic, it is safe to say that I am constantly challenged with new learning opportunities. In addition to my work with Lindblad Expeditions, I have a speaker’s agent who offers me opportunities to travel as an enrichment speaker on a number of different cruise lines, which enables me to travel the world for free – kind of a dream job!”
In closing, Robyn offered a few tips to charter a dream career:
Dare to be bold and take chances by trying something new;
Volunteer as a means to try out a career in a new field or profession before committing to a four-year degree in a subject;
Learn to write well! Regardless if you study sciences, engineering, accounting or humanities, if you are unable to describe, interpret or clarify what you have designed or discovered clearly and concisely, you will be at a disadvantage; and,
Pursue the field or profession that you are passionate about!
In 2010, Robyn was awarded the YHS Janet Ruth Mitchell Founders Spirit Award, which is presented to an alumna who has demonstrated significant and outstanding spirit and passion in her life’s work. In 2012, she received the Archaeological Institute of America’s McCann Taggart Distinguished Lectureship in Underwater Archaeology.