Making it possible
Right from the get-go, Monique Lortie- Lussier radiates the inspiring energy of a trailblazer. In 27 years researching and teaching social psychology at the University of Ottawa, she played a leading role in establishing its women's studies program. Now retired but still committed to education and women's issues, she draws generously on her registered retirement income fund (RRIF) to support a graduate scholarship in women's studies at the University. She kindly agreed to answer our questions.
What made you establish the Monique Lortie-Lussier Scholarship?
I'd wanted to establish a scholarship for a long time, but I didn't know exactly what I'd do. I think that the current university system excludes a lot of students who lack the financial means to do graduate studies. I was born into a family that encouraged both girls and boys to pursue their studies. My father was a university professor. There were few scholarships at the time, and all around me, I saw students who didn't have the same advantages. Even then, I believed that scholarships were needed. Something else was very important. My four children had benefitted from a sort of scholarship from the University of Ottawa, because the University partially subsidized schooling for professors' children. It's a way for me to give back to the University.
Why did you decide to establish a scholarship in women's studies rather than in psychology, your field?
Graduate students in psychology get a lot of support as far as scholarships and research assistantships go. Women's studies is multi- and often crossdisciplinary. A person who wants to do a master's or PhD doesn't have that near certainty of being able to work with someone who can give them a research assistantship.
As a donor, what inspires you?
I'm always moved when I find out that so-and-so was the first in his or her family to study at university. We don't realize what that can mean. Some parents push and encourage higher education, because they themselves didn't have that opportunity, but they can't always afford it. There's still a lot to do to get young people to go to university. A lot.
Did you know that when you name the University of Ottawa as a beneficiary of a registered plan (RRSP, TFSA, RRIF), you can enjoy significant tax benefits?