From grief to gratitude: The Hollingsworth Family Award
Paul Hollingsworth BA’94
Paul Hollingsworth BA’94
By Alec Bruce
For CTV News Atlantic reporter Paul Hollingsworth BA’94, his years at Saint Mary’s can be described as the best of times and the worst.
In 1991, he was in his second year at Saint Mary’s and was about to complete the fall term when he learned of his brother’s death by suicide just 10 days before Christmas.
“Bryce was 25, three years older than me, and we were close,” he says. “I could have gone to my bedroom, turned off the lights and be devastated. Or, I could have tried to live my life in a way that was, in large part, dedicated to him. I chose to do the latter.”
And he has. Over the years, Hollingsworth has become one of the Atlantic region’s most accomplished journalists, working for CTV Atlantic as a reporter and anchor and with TSN as a part-time national anchor. His career highlights include reporting from the World Series, World Baseball Classic, Super Bowl, 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tim Hortons Brier and IIHF World Junior Championships. He’s also lent his name and time to events that support mental health initiatives.
Today, he credits the tightly-knit community of professors, mentors, peers and friends at Saint Mary’s for helping him through that dark time so many years ago. So, when he lost his sister, Lauren, last year from a stroke, he knew it was time to do something tangible.
Launched in February 2023, The Hollingsworth Family Award was created to support students in their first year of study—particularly those in financial need—with $1,000 to help them cope with the loss of a family member.
“It may sound cliched to say you want to give something back, but the reality is you do. By the grace of God, I had strong support around me. But how many kids are going to Saint Mary’s this year or next year who have lost a brother, or a sister or a dad?”
Since its launch, Hollingsworth says, the award has attracted attention and donations. “Thousands of dollars have already been donated. One person called me up with a $5,000 gift. He was a total stranger.”
And there have been old friends, too. “One guy I’ve known since high school works for a financial planning firm in Halifax, and he has pledged to do people’s taxes for free in return for donations to the endowment.”
Hollingsworth himself has also committed $12,500 to the fund. “I haven’t met any of the people who will apply for the scholarship yet. But I care about all of them because they are part of my shared experience. I want to do something to help them and maybe instill some confidence and buoyancy in them to help them plan forward.”
Despite the losses in his life, including the recent loss of his mother, Hollingsworth is defiantly positive. “If you talk to me on any given day, I genuinely have a positive outlook with a lot of gratitude for the blessings in my life. I have a deep affection, love and appreciation for Saint Mary’s. I love the school in a way that I have a hard time putting into words.”
When asked what advice he would offer new graduates and his fellow alumni, Hollingsworth is earnest in his response, "I live by the philosophy of 'to whom much is given, much is required.' We all have strengths and with our strengths comes a responsibility to use them for the betterment of everyone around us. So, I would say, 'take your strengths, go out into the world, and make a positive difference.'"
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Giving back to empower African Canadian and Indigenous women at Saint Mary’s.
Keisha Turner BA’12
Keisha Turner BA’12 (Photo: Submitted)
Thanks to the generosity of Saint Mary’s alumna, Keisha Turner BA’12, African Canadian and Indigenous women studying at Saint Mary’s will have a new bursary to help ease the cost of their post-secondary education.
"I am so excited to be able to offer this bursary over the next five years. It was bursaries just like these that allowed me to succeed and finish my degree with the stability and support I needed to get where I am today. It is with great pride and gratitude that I am able to do the same for the next generation of Black and Indigenous leaders."
During her time at Saint Mary’s, Keisha studied Sociology and won an AUS Championship with the women’s volleyball team in 2010. She has since established an impactful career as an entrepreneur and consultant in Ontario and Nova Scotia. With her husband Michael Polak BComm’14, she has formed Akwekon—a consulting firm that guides Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations in the reconciliation of colonial and Indigenous practices.
It is in this spirit of cultivating positive change that Keisha invests in Saint Mary’s students, and in turn strengthens our community and the world beyond.
LeadSift’s Bursary Encourages STEM Education
Sreejata Chatterjee and Olivia Kenney BComm’16
Sreejata Chatterjee (Photo: Submitted)
Olivia Kenney BComm’16 (Photo: Submitted)
Good data leads to good decisions—this philosophy is the foundation of what Sreejata Chatterjee knows to be true in business and education.
Chatterjee is the founder of LeadSift, a technology firm that uses buyer intent data to mine the public internet and help companies with lead generation for the products they sell. Chatterjee, a guest lecturer in the Master of Computing Data Analytics program has seen the business through its start-up phase to being acquired by the international technology company, Foundry in 2021.
From the day Olivia Kenney BComm’16 began working at LeadSift she knew culture was important to the team. “It immediately felt like I was part of a family, it was a welcoming environment where we were encouraged to share our ideas.” Now the Director of Marketing at Foundry she remembers planning for International Women’s Day and thinking about how to acknowledge the day which celebrates breaking barriers, a theme especially relevant for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). “Supporting women must go beyond social media posts one day a year. Celebrating women and acknowledging barriers is step one, but we wanted to do our part in making tech more accessible,” says, Kenney, “I approached the idea of a bursary for women in STEM with Sreejata and without hesitation she was on board.”
The $1,000 LeadSift Bursary is awarded annually through Saint Mary’s and any woman studying in the STEM field at the university is eligible to apply. “It’s one thing for women to get into STEM, but we want to keep them here,” says Chatterjee, “if the bursary helps in some small way shape the future workforce, it will have long lasting impact.”
The number of women leaving STEM is increasing and this comes at a time where computer language is in high demand. Women need to be a part of this future and LeadSift and Foundry are helping make that happen.