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A memorable experience

International alumna returns with family to tour Memorial

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Eva Francess Richards just knocked a big item off her bucket list.

As a graduate student from Sierra Leone who attended Memorial from 1963-65 on a Commonwealth scholarship, Ms. Richards was one of the university’s first African students.

During her two years at Memorial, she completed a master’s degree in economics, lived in Bowater House with other international students and bonded with local students.

After graduating, she went on to a career in the civil service and with UNICEF. But her years at Memorial always stood out in her memory. So, her adult children hatched a plan for a visit.

1/ Gold pin

Ms. Richards receives her gold alumni pin from Memorial's chancellor, Dr. Susan Dyer Knight.

Photo: Rich Blenkinsop

2/ Group shot

From left are daughter Tania Faulkner, Ms. Richards, Dr. Susan Dyer Knight, daughter Nadia Palmer and son Rick Richards.

Photo: Rich Blenkinsop

3/ Meeting the dean

Ms. Richards meets with Dr. Jennifer Simpson, dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Photo: Submitted

4/ At the gym

Ms. Richards revisits the gym where she wrote her exams.

Photo: Submitted

5/ Outside Bowater House

Ms. Richards and her family outside her old residence.

Photo: Submitted

6/ Interviewed by CBC

Ms. Richards being interviewed by a crew from the CBC in her old residence room in Bowater House.

Photo: Submitted

Chris Hounsell of the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development took the lead on planning a special campus tour for Ms. Richards.

“When Tania, her daughter, reached out to me last December and shared her mother’s story and what her siblings wanted to do for her, I definitely felt a desire to make it happen,” he said.

“I was intrigued as to how a young woman from Sierra Leone found her way to Memorial University in 1963, and what she would think of Memorial given that 50-plus years had passed since she last stepped foot on campus. And everyone else I reached out to across campus with the story wanted to help however they could, as they were just as intrigued by the story as I was.”

In addition to Ms. Richards and three of her children, current student Alyona Lewis, also from Sierra Leone, and a master’s of science candidate in the Faculty of Medicine’s department of clinical epidemiology, joined the tour.

Among the highlights of Ms. Richards’ visit were receiving a gold alumni pin from Chancellor Dr. Susan Dyer Knight and touring Bowater House.

Of her return Ms. Richards commented: “Emotionally, extremely satisfying, because it’s been quite a long ambition of mine to come back.”


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