The Promise of a Private Education

November 13, 2018


A Canisius education means different things to each student and graduate. For Alice M. Iradukunda ’21, a Canisius degree will be the culmination of an opportunity she might not otherwise have had in her homeland of the Republic of Congo. 

“Life in Congo was not bad but when it comes to education, they are really behind,” explains Iradukunda, who emigrated to Buffalo from the central African nation in 2015 with her parents and two younger siblings for the opportunity of a better life. “Part of that is because schools do not receive much funding so they cannot afford the resources or tools needed to help students learn.”

She was overwhelmed and very appreciative when she arrived on the Canisius campus. 

“It’s difficult coming to a new country, learning a new language and navigating a new city and a new way of doing things,” Iradukunda says. “But the Canisius community welcomed me and helps me every time I need help.”

That support comes in different forms.

The biology and French major receives academic assistance from the Griff Center, while she continues to learn the nuances of the English language. As she pursues her dream of becoming a doctor, professors and administrators in the Dr. George E. Schreiner ’43 Pre-Med Center advise Iradukunda on her next career steps. Iradukunda also receives financial support via the college’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). 

The support Iradukunda and other students receive for their educations is made possible, in large part, by gifts to the Canisius Fund from donors such as Josh Gregory ‘87.

Gregory hadn’t met Iradukunda at the time he made a $100 gift to the Canisius Fund in February 2018. But the two spoke on the phone for some time when Iradukunda – a student caller for the Canisius Fund – reached out to solicit him for a gift. 

“Alice’s is an extraordinary story but to then hear her talk about how appreciative and grateful she is to the college for helping her – that’s extremely compelling from a donor’s standpoint,” Gregory says. 

So much so that a few months later, the wealth management advisor, based in Boston, MA, with an investment management firm, made a second, more significant leadership gift to the Canisius Fund by way of a stock transfer. He asked that Iradukunda receive credit for the gift.

“When I originally spoke with Alice in the call center, she explained how Canisius was helping to make her dreams become a reality,” Gregory recalls. “I hope my gift will help do the same by fulfilling the dreams of other Canisius students.”