Thursday, March 27, 2008

Donor Dinner

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the 11th Annual Donor's Dinner, hosted by Carleton University at the Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec. The theme was "Making Things Happen," and it was an opportunity to recognize and thank the many donors who have contributed to making Carleton great. Many students attended so the donors could learn about how their generosity has made a real impact in their lives.

The evening was an opportunity to dress nicely, as well, which was a welcome change to the student dress code of "whatever I find in a hurry as I run out the door." It wasn't ball gowns or anything like that, but the business casual getups still looked sharp.

Cocktail hour started things off with hors d'Ĺ“uvres and wine. I knew one other person from computer science there, so we chatted for a while until a couple of donors approached us (I guess it was obvious enough that we were both students!). I ended up talking to the wife about "women things," which I surprisingly rather enjoyed. She got married right before starting her Masters, just as I did this summer. She has five children, which I'm pretty sure I don't want, and one daughter is getting married this summer herself! It was really interesting hearing her stories of periodically moving to France for her husband's schooling.

At the end of that conversation we were ushered to our tables, which were all preassigned. I sat across the table from a couple from Research in Motion in Waterloo, but didn't get much of a chance to talk to them. I do remember asking about the processing power of their Blackberry (it was a Curve), because they mentioned it had both a camera and a GPS. Hmm, I wonder if it would be fast enough to run the real time mapping application I want to develop? Also at the table was Luc Lalonde of Carleton's Foundry Program (and other innovation related things). I got a chance to discuss my map application to him in more detail, and he seemed to like the idea.

The official program was a good length (and by that I mean, relatively short!). There were two speeches that I felt were particularly good. Truly short and sweet -- straight from the heart. The first was from David Azrieli, whose remarkable donation will help the dreams of up and coming architects come true. Dr. Azrieli, currently 85 and an honorary recipient of a PhD, graduated from Carleton's Master of Architecture program himself... at age 77! The second speech was from a student who has benefited greatly from the financial support of donors. Collin Haba comes to Carleton from Rwanda on scholarship with the dream of becoming a journalist. He wants to be a part of the rebuilding taking place back home post-genocide, and having a more trained media is an important aspect of this.

As the evening (and prime rib dinner) came to a close, I reflected on how lucky I have been to benefit from the financial support made possible by these admirable philanthropists. I hope I have made the most of the opportunities made possible by not needing to work part time to finance my studies, and I hope I can continue to do so.

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