Alumni Spotlight | Fall 2020

The Power of Connection

Dr. Mary Clare Courtland. Educator. Philanthropist. Visionary.

Mary Clare Courtland and Keri-Lyn Durant were strangers to each other, yet they are powerfully connected.

Mary Clare started her career at Lakehead in 1984 with a focus on children’s literature and Keri- Lyn started hers in 2012 (BEd). Both women chose to become educators. Both pursued their PhDs and both taught for the Faculty of Education.

The path to a higher education wasn’t an easy one for Mary Clare, who struggled financially and sacrificed as a single mother. During a time when it wasn’t common for women to go to university, she forged ahead, following her passion with the encouragement of her mother.

Early in her career, Mary Clare demonstrated that she wanted to remove some of the financial barriers preventing young people from pursuing a university education.

She started gradually, making gifts when she was able. Later she used monthly giving to make steady gifts spread throughout the year and then a matching gift initiative inspired her to create a bursary named in honour of her family. She slowly built up the Coughlin- Courtland Family Bursary over a period of five years. When her mother passed away, Mary Clare used a portion of the estate to add to it.

To sustain the life of the award, Mary Clare included a gift to Lakehead in her own will. When she passed away in 2014, her vision to provide future support to students like Keri-Lyn was realized.

Keri-Lyn Durant, the 2019-2020 recipient of the Coughlin-Courtland Family Bursary.“Because of the Coughlin- Courtland Family Bursary, I was able to continue to pursue my educational goals – dreams, really – without financial hardship,”

says Keri-Lyn Durant, the 2019-2020 recipient.

“My research is in death education – dying, death, and loss – and current pandemic restrictions have only served to heighten the demand for input. That’s why I am even more grateful that I can continue uninterrupted as we move forward in these unprecedented times."

As she nears the end of her doctoral journey, the impact that Mary Clare has made on Keri-Lyn has connected them for a lifetime.

To learn more about how to leave a life-changing gift in your will to Lakehead University, please contact: Lee-Anne Camlin, Philanthropy Associate. All requests remain confidential with no obligation.
T: 807-346-7792

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