Paying it forward: uOttawa Alumni Association gifting wellness to students

Posted on Friday, May 7, 2021

Hands forming a shape of heart

The bond between students and alumni at the University of Ottawa has been strengthened with the Alumni Association’s pledge of $500,000 over the next 10 years to support student mental health. This donation will expand existing counselling services by up to 500 additional sessions per year enhancing front-line support in the afternoons and evenings.

The Alumni Association fully supports the University’s plan to engage the entire community to create a culture of health awareness and wellness on campus.

“The Alumni Association was already looking at how to help students struggling with mental health when the pandemic hit. As students and alumni face unprecedented struggles with the job market and isolation, we want them to know that they are not alone.” explained Valérie Gervais, President of the uOttawa Alumni Association. “They are part of a big family, that is 250,000 members strong, and supporting each other is what we do. This contribution, made on behalf of all alumni, will fund critical services and have a direct impact on students.”

This commitment aligns with the uOAA’s goal of providing mental health and mentoring resources to young alumni who are making the transition to post-graduation life. 

“The Alumni Association’s long-term financial support will help fill an urgent need,” added professor Elizabeth Kristjansson, Special Advisor, Mental Health and Wellness at the University of Ottawa.  “We heard from students that they needed access to counselling in the evenings and are so grateful that the Alumni Association is able to help. An estimated 8 to 10 students will receive counselling sessions every week with this strategic strengthening of front-line support services.”

A next phase of this partnership is in development by the Alumni Association and includes plans to engage with alumni and ask that they share their own personal struggles and stories of resilience with students to destigmatize and encourage conversations about mental health.

“This gift goes well beyond monetary value. Collectively, the contributions from alumni through their stories of resilience and mentorship will also achieve positive change and help to ensure our students succeed in their personal and academic goals,” concluded Professor Kristjansson.


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