St. Mary’s University to present Linda Olsen with Honourary Fellowship

Linda Olsen and Daughter Kristina at President's Dinner

Linda Olsen (right) with Daughter Kristina, a recent St. Mary’s graduate, at the StMU President’s Dinner.

St. Mary’s University will bestow local Calgary media personality Linda Olsen with an Honourary Fellowship at the 2020 StMU convocation ceremony – the highest possible award to an external member of the university community.

Since 2012, Linda has served in various volunteer capacities with St. Mary’s from emceeing several President’s Dinner fundraiser events to other initiatives and has often used her position as a trusted voice in the Calgary community to help shine some light on the amazing initiatives being undertaken by St. Mary’s.

“As a trusted member of the local media, Linda has often used her platform to support St. Mary’s initiatives and events. She has championed media exposure for St. Mary’s, leading to increased publicity and awareness for both the institution, events, and programming such as our Humanities 101 program serving those who have previously experienced barriers to education,” said Thérèse Takacs, Vice President Advancement and Campus Services at St. Mary’s University. “

Linda continues to be an engaged member of the community, using her voice to promote and advocate for St. Mary’s University whenever possible. These qualities and actions demonstrate why she is so very deserved of this most prestigious honour.

When initially approached by St. Mary’s back in 2012 to serve as emcee for the 2012 President’s Dinner, Linda admits that she was aware of St. Mary’s but not familiar with the amazing things done by the university.

“I was thrilled to be asked to [be emcee], I was so impressed with the event,” said Linda. “It was a pleasure to hear more about the exceptional student experience and I have been honoured to host the President’s Dinner for several years – the highlight being the 25th Anniversary celebration in March of this year.”

From this role, Linda volunteered her time and expertise as a member of a Communications committee at the school to assist St. Mary’s in growing its profile.

“Perhaps people weren’t as familiar with St. Mary’s a few years ago as they are today,” explained Linda. “To be able to tell them that there is this other really exceptional learning facility in Calgary was something I was proud to be part of.”

Over the years Linda has witnessed the growth of St. Mary’s first-hand and is excited to see the direction St. Mary’s is headed.

“St. Mary’s has long been a sought out educational facility, but even more so now, it’s established itself as a leading liberal arts and science university and that’s exciting to see in Calgary,” said Olsen. “While there has been change and growth there’s really that feel of a more intimate educational experience.”

Linda credits St. Mary’s President Dr. Gerry Turcotte and the entire St. Mary’s community for her continued volunteered commitments.

“The whole St. Mary’s team has always been so exceptional and welcoming, knowing that St. Mary’s is really a great story to share with Calgarians and what it has to offer to the city and to future students,” said Linda. “I think St. Mary’s is such a gem and it’s been a pleasure to be involved with.”

It is the intimate setting and the personal attention paid to each student that Linda believes sets St. Mary’s apart from other post-secondary institutions in Calgary.

“There is genuine effort to see students through their entire educational journey,” said Linda. “I like that the instructors ensure that students are taking the right steps along the way. They are getting that top-rate education but also there is a focus on connecting students to their St. Mary’s family and the broader community.”

“It’s that well-rounded life experience, not just taking a bunch of classes that stands out to me [about St. Mary’s]”

As the parent of a recent graduate of St. Mary’s University, Linda was so proud to see everything come full circle.

“I hosted the President’s Dinner all those years, I didn’t even think about my own children attending,” explained Linda. “When my daughter said she was going to get her Bachelor of Education from St. Mary’s I was so happy and excited for her. With what I knew of the school and her personality I knew it was going to be a perfect fit for her and it was.”

During her education at St. Mary’s, Linda’s daughter was also able to travel to Ukraine for part of her practicum, an experience that Linda believes helped her daughter really come into her own.

“It was an amazing opportunity for her, and when she spoke at a St. Mary’s event after her experience sharing what she learned I was just so proud of her. I saw this young woman before me, and I thought that this was a great example of the teachers St. Mary’s is sending out into the world.”

The nomination for the Honourary Fellowship was quite the surprise for Linda, one that she is truly thankful to receive and one that helped provide a bit of light during a turbulent time in Calgary and the world.

“I am so honoured to be named an Honourary Fellow at St. Mary’s University,” said Linda. “I am humbled, and I was speechless when I was first contacted and I’m deeply appreciative.” “I think that at any time in my life this would be an incredible honour, but especially in recent times in what our city and our world is going through, it was such a wonderful piece of news. A bright light, to celebrate such a great institution that I’ve become a part of in a small way.”

“I’ve admired St. Mary’s for so many years because of my involvement and have enjoyed learning more about it and watching it grow. I do a lot in the community and it’s because I believe so much in the city, and the people and the groups that help shape Calgary, so to be recognized by one of the outstanding educational facilities [such as] St. Mary’s is truly an honour for me.”

If there was one message that Linda would like potential students and parents to know about St. Mary’s, it would be the incredible work St. Mary’s is doing to prepare its students for life beyond the classroom.

“From my experience as a volunteer who helped support St. Mary’s and as the parent of a graduate, what an incredible experience it has been. Helping support and shape young adults to go out in the world, and I think that St. Mary’s should be one of those universities that people should take a serious look at while planning their future. I know, from everything I’ve learned, it’s a great facility and will continue to grow.”