Young alumna Fiona McGuinty embraces power and impact of Campaign motto ‘Every gift matters’

December 30, 2020

By Fred Sgambati (’83)

A key component to the success of the Campaign for Acadia was the generous support of many young alumni who embraced the motto, ‘Every gift matters’. Members of the Acadia alumni community in every aspect were dedicated to meeting and exceeding the Campaign’s ambitious $75-million goal, but recent graduates, particularly those in the last decade, answered the call and provided foundational gifts that sustained and enhanced the Campaign’s momentum.

Former volleyball Axewoman Fiona McGuinty (’17) is one of those donors. Currently working as a Competition Law Officer with the Competition Bureau Canada while completing a law degree at McGill, McGuinty graduated from Acadia with a double major in economics and politics.

While considering post-secondary school options, the Ottawa native had visited Acadia on a recruitment trip with the women’s volleyball team. She says she was immediately impressed by how much Acadia and Wolfville had to offer and was drawn to Acadia’s small class sizes, stellar reputation in liberal arts, and dedication to athletics.

“The friendliness of the Wolfville community and the beauty of the Annapolis Valley were the final touches,” she adds. “Small class sizes allowed me to get to know my professors and constantly ask them questions or receive detailed feedback. The athletics community was also very tight-knit and, as a result, I felt a constant source of support and encouragement from fellow athletes, coaches and support staff. I was able to grow as a person because I was always surrounded by such dedicated, honest and welcoming individuals, both on and off campus.”

Vital programs, valuable support

McGuinty also found time to volunteer and definitely has a soft spot for Acadia’s Kinderskills and Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience (S.M.I.L.E.) programs. “I’m amazed by all the hard yet rewarding work that gets put into these each year. I want to give back to Acadia to ensure that programs such as these can continue to grow, and to make sure that student-athletes have an opportunity to give back to the community.”

Unsurprisingly, McGuinty directed her gift toward student-athletes, many of whom are involved in vital volunteer programs like Kinderskills and S.M.I.L.E. “I have profound gratitude for head (volleyball) coach Michelle Wood and the volleyball program because it has truly shaped me and helped me to become a better person. I want to make sure that others can continue to benefit from similar experiences, no matter their financial situation. I also want to ensure that the program continues to build confidence, strength and success among young women, on and off the court.”

It’s a commitment that Wood endorses fully. She notes that Acadia student-athletes volunteer in the community with people of all ages: within schools, with Acadia Active Aging seniors, with S.M.I.L.E. children, with the Cardiac Rehab program, and in the local hospital. Her players also work with Axe Volleyball, a minor volleyball program where they mentor young female athletes. “It’s empowering to see how much those young ones look up to our student-athletes,” Wood says. “It’s really important that we give back within the community, because the community gives so much to us.”

Perhaps that’s why ‘every gift matters’ was so meaningful for McGuinty and motivated her to give. “The Campaign inspired me to think about how the current pandemic may be impacting students and the Acadia community in general. Knowing that every gift matters ensures that Acadia can continue its mission and support those who need it most.”

As she sets her sights on a law career, McGuinty can’t help but think back on her Acadia experience with fondness and affection, noting it was both transformative and impactful.

When asked to choose a favourite Acadia moment, though, she says, “there are too many to pick! I think one of my favourite memories would be finishing up a gruelling practice on a Saturday morning with my teammates, followed by a visit to the Farmers’ Market to grab some brunch and sip on a latte from Just Us. It’s simple moments like that one that allowed me to develop lifelong friendships. I miss it!”

Her commitment to Acadia, however, remains strong and her message to young alumni considering a donation captures the Campaign’s motto perfectly. “Even a little bit can go a long way. COVID-19 has had a strong impact on many students and communities, and I think it’s very important to give back at such a critical time.”

To learn more about the Campaign for Acadia and provide a gift, please visit: https://campaign.acadiau.ca/ .

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