On Wednesday night St. Mary’s University held one of the most moving and rewarding celebrations of the entire year as 16 members of the Humanities 101 Class of 2017 walked the stage to receive their certificates of completion during the Humanities 101 Celebration of Learning.


The Humanities 101 program is a strength-based educational program designed to help low-income adults who have experienced barriers to learning. St. Mary’s teachers, tutors and facilitators create a profoundly safe and welcoming space where adults with a diverse range of life and educational experiences are welcome and provided with the skills needed for a brighter future.

It is this safe space that Dr. Tara Hyland-Russell, Vice-President Academic & Dean of St. Mary’s University, believes essential in helping the Humanities 101 thrive and reach the potential that is within each and every one of them.

“One of our core principals of Humanities 101 is that we create and foster a profoundly safe learning environment,” said Dr. Hyland-Russell. “Not just physically safe, but morally, ethically and emotionally safe.”


“Last night was such a powerful demonstration of that, you could see students reaching out to each other and supporting each other. There was such deep evidence of the community that had been formed in a way that you could see that they met each other as human beings and cared deeply despite their differences and had been able to reach beyond those differences to see the essence of each other.”

The Humanities 101 program has provided many people with the confidence and abilities to believe in themselves and achieve goals and dreams that were perhaps otherwise believed to be unattainable.
“When I first started teaching in the Humanities 101 program, the courage of the students and their willingness to be vulnerable and risk to reach out to achieve their desire to learn and a transformed path in the world, that inspired me to risk as much as they do and it made me a better teacher,” said Dr. Hyland-Russell. “It encourages me every day, in whatever role I’m in, to reach out for that same passion and drive and to work past the fear.”


“If they can do it, I surely can do it and it gives me profound hope, joy and delight and inspiration and I’m proud that St. Mary’s is a place where those are fundamental values that shape the work we do and the type of community we are.”

For more information on how you can support the Humanities 101 program click here.