A Promise Scholars program launched by the Faculty of Management will provide much-needed support to Black and Indigenous students. The program will provide financial aid, paid work experience and personalized academic and career mentoring to Black and Indigenous students, with a preference for African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq students and additional priority given to first generation students from low-income backgrounds.
It’s an idea that was inspired by Faculty of Management students. Executives from the student societies met with Dean Kim Brooks in June 2020 and asked why the Faculty wasn’t doing more to support Black and Indigenous students. Each student organization wanted to know how they, and the Faculty, could do better. “We’re taking them up on their call for action,” says Brooks.
“We looked for models and found that in 2015 Dalhousie’s Committee on Aboriginal and Black/African Canadian Student Access and Retention produced a report on financial aid,” continued Brooks. “That Committee proposed promise scholarships. Our Promise Scholars program adds two additional pillars to that financial aid promise. Promise Scholars will be supported with paid work or internship experience and personalized and dedicated mentoring support.”
The design of the Promise Scholars program is supported by extensive research. Students from lower-income households, and particularly those whose parents have not attended post-secondary education, are less likely to come to university and get a degree. Historic and continuing discrimination experienced by Black and Indigenous people discourages them from pursuing university education.
Additionally, Black and Indigenous students, particularly those without previous family connections to university, often lack crucial mentoring networks.
“We know that access to a post-secondary education is transformative. It should be accessible to all promising students,” says Brooks.
Delivering value to communities
The Faculty’s students recognize the importance of incorporating the talents of Black and Indigenous students into university life.
“We believe that businesses must serve the interests of society and deliver value to their communities,” says Jeff Arkin, president of Dalhousie’s MBA Society. “It is imperative to educate a diverse student body prepared to tackle current issues and take on the problems of tomorrow.”
He continues, “Diversity of thought and perspective drives innovation in the classroom and beyond, allowing for creative, progressive and meaningful problem-solving. Ask any university student: while our professors are an invaluable contribution to our studies, much of our education comes through collaboration with peers. Increasing representation from students of all backgrounds will strengthen our business program, lead to more equitable businesses and improve society’s well-being.”
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