With a gift of $50,000 in support of the University Commons Writing Centre, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have furthered their 156-year focus on education and young people. 

 “From the earliest days, the spirit of our congregation included the education of young people in ways that sparked confidence and vitality,” said Sister Mary Beth McCurdy, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity.  “That’s why the University Commons Writing Centre is a perfect fit at this time – it encourages people to come together in one place and focus on acquiring the writing skills that foster coherence, creativity and joy.”

In honour of their gift, the Writing Centre in the University Commons at UNB Saint John will be named for the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception.  The Centre is accessible to students of all disciplines and academic years and to faculty and staff.  Professional tutors at the Centre assist with the mechanics of writing and the elements of style; offer advice on papers and assignments currently in progress; and help with applications, proposals, expressive writing and other projects.  The Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception Writing Centre is designed to be a learning space free of judgement and evaluation, where people can work at a comfortable pace.

“Being able to write well is one of the most important skills needed to succeed, and we should be encouraging it more often,” said Robert MacKinnon, Vice-President UNB Saint John.  “The Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception Writing Centre gives our students and staff the tools necessary to learn the fine art of writing.  After all, it’s not about having a gift – it’s about learning a skill.”

“Everyone at the Writing Centre is dedicated to giving students and staff the opportunity to develop their writing skills,” said Grant Heckman, Writing Centre Consultant.  “Our job, and our passion, is to help people learn how to be better writers.”

In 1854, with the single goal of helping those who were suffering, Honoria Conway and a small band of women responded to the call of the Bishop of Saint John to care for an increasing number of children orphaned during the cholera outbreak.  It was through the teaching of children, young women and nursing students that the Sisters engendered a love of learning that has stayed with them to this day.  No matter where the Sisters go across Canada and Peru, the ministry of education is always dear to their hearts. 

Many Sisters are also UNB graduates or retired teachers, and they were some of the strongest advocates for Summer School sessions and extension courses.  The Sisters of Charity have a tradition of supporting UNB Saint John; among their contributions has been the establishment of the Honoria Conway Memorial Scholarship in support of undergraduate students at UNB Saint John.

The University Commons will provide an exceptional learning and social environment at Tucker Park along with a new library, learning commons, Student Technology Centre, Math & Science Help Centre, and much more.  When completed later this year, the facility will be an architectural landmark on campus.

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