Ambassador for Change

David MacNaughton ’67 Returns to Ridley for Graduate Prize Day Address

Despite holding one of the most critical appointments in Canadian public affairs at the moment, Mr. David MacNaughton ’67, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States of America, returned to campus on May 26th to inspire the newest cohort of Ridley graduates to be determined, committed and fearless in their quests to transform our globe.

“I always found that if you try to surround yourself with really smart people who try hard, you can do really great things…And that really came from [Ridley],” reflected Ambassador MacNaughton when asked how his three years as a boarder in Merritt House helped to prepare him for his distinguished career in business, public office and as a diplomat.

According to his classmates, MacNaughton was known for being a personable student, a quiet leader, devoted Sacristan in the Chapel, and skillful athlete in both hockey and football. He came to the school in his Grade 11 year seeking the opportunity to excel academically, while competing athletically — a balance he hadn’t found elsewhere. He explained that beyond thriving in these two areas, he was glad to have found more; a community, camaraderie, focus and drive. This ambition became obvious during his post-secondary studies and early introduction to government.

After exploring his passions abroad by teaching at a seminary school in France for a year, MacNaughton returned to Canada and was swiftly recruited to the University of New Brunswick to play football. There, he completed his Honours Arts Degree and took advantage of a life-shaping opportunity. MacNaughton had attended a Student-Liberal Convention one afternoon in Halifax to observe the candidacy for Student-President of the Atlantic Province. He remembers that the crowd was seemingly unenthusiastic about both nominees and he subsequently decided to throw his hat in the ring. “So I won and became President of the Atlantic Province Student-Liberal…a kid from Ontario!” he says, still amazed at this chance-opportunity more than three decades later. One might argue it wasn’t by chance at all.

The following summer, as a result of this victory, he and the other six regional presidents went to Ottawa to gain public sector experience. MacNaughton worked with Don Jamieson, then Cabinet Minister from Newfoundland, for the next six years and eventually with Industry Canada and Foreign Affairs. By the time he was 26-years-old, the Old Ridleian had travelled to some 55 countries and collected a wealth of invaluable knowledge. With this expertise in tow and about to be a first-time father, he deliberately “shifted gears” in the 1980s to business and transformed the public affairs industry through public-relations-and-consulting.

“The thing I learned more than anything else [at Ridley] was how to be a member of a team,” explained MacNaughton when pinpointing what skills have helped him the most throughout his career and life. “There is no “I” in “team” and that’s one of the foundations that I got here,” he continued. It would ultimately be his resilience, intellect and teamwork that led to his current appointment as Ambassador. Having worked on Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party campaign leading up to the 2015 Federal Election, MacNaughton was a strong choice for this principal role in Washington, D.C.

“David was a popular guy with an easy smile, a quiet way and a good sense of humour. He played Second hockey, First football as a lineman, was appointed a prefect at Christmas in his final year deservedly so. He won the Zealous Achievement for Merritt House, served as the Sacristan in the Chapel, and was a respected leader.” — classmate, Brian Iggulden ’67

Given his true embodiment of what it means to be a Ridleian — both flourishing and actively making the world a better place — the school was elated to welcome Ambassador MacNaughton back to campus as the 2018 Alumni Distinguished Speaker for Graduate Prize Day. It was an honour he shared with one of his four daughters, Erin (MacNaughton) Sumner ’98, whom he proudly witnessed crossing that very stage to receive her diploma twenty years prior.

Celebrating his 50th class reunion in 2017 and becoming a ‘Golden Tiger’, MacNaughton remarks that the school has positively evolved in many ways since he graduated — having embraced co-education, becoming globally diverse, even more athletically competitive, and introducing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. To our internationally diverse student population, comprised of 54 nationalities, the Ambassador expressed that, “I think having that [internationally diverse] approach is really important for the school because there are other forces at work. We see it elsewhere, the kind of nativism, nationalism, isolationism, and I think Canada can set an important example.”

While taking to the lectern in front of the Class of 2018, Ambassador MacNaughton imparted that when he first graduated from Ridley, he had little understanding of, or application for, the school’s motto (Terar Dum Prosim: May I be Consumed in Service), but has grown to have a deep appreciation for it today. He urged the graduates to recognize that we are in an era of rapid progress and that they can truly have an impact. He poignantly illustrated this with personal examples, such as the near-eradication of Polio worldwide after he (like many) suffered from the disease as a child, and first meeting President Obama in the Oval Office less than half a century after the abolishment of discriminatory laws against African Americans.


Watch full Prize Day Address from Ambassador, David MacNaughton ’67.

Off stage, the Ambassador reinforced this powerful message by stating, “In my lifetime we have seen phenomenal changes, but these don’t just happen because they’re the natural course of history, they happen because people actually make a difference… you have to work hard at it and sometimes you might have set backs, but you have to be persistent, you have to be determined and you have to build teamwork to get it done, but you can do it.”

Ambassador MacNaughton’s inspiring words won’t soon be forgotten, instead they are instilled in the cohort of brilliant, globally-minded young adults who left the Marriott Gates on Saturday destined for both greatness and goodness.

View photos of Ambassador MacNaughton ’67.
View photos from 2018 Graduate Priize Day.

TOP 10 Pieces of Advice for Graduates

As the Class of 2018 prepares to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, we compiled 10 pieces of advice from young alumni, that will help our graduates as they begin the next chapter of their lives.

1. Find Your Passion
“Great ideas come from great passion. When you do what you love, you will never look back. The positive light from doing what you love will unknowingly motivate others to do the same!” – Marina Radovanovic ’14

2. Set Goals
“Set goals and then reset them regularly. Stand behind your ideas. Even if the first ones don’t take, keep an entrepreneurial spirit alive. Think outside the box. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that break the mold.” – Colt Iggulden ’03

3. Believe in Yourself
“One of the biggest things that current and future Ridleians should remember is to never stop believing that they can do great things. Anybody can do anything that they set their minds to. No matter how much adversity one must face to achieve greatness, it is important to never lose sight of what you want and to never give up. If there is something you want, go for it and don’t hold back.”
Luc Brodeur ’14

4. Seek Mentorship
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be patient. If I had never asked my coach what my next steps were, I wouldn’t have been able to take them. Then I had to be patient and wait for the right time. It’s all about the process, enjoy it. If you have a passion for something, don’t be afraid to pursue it.” – Laura Court ’14

5. Strive for More
“Follow your curiosity and always look for ways to improve. This may require further education and certification, volunteering with people different than you, or taking on a side-gig, but compounding curiosity will open you up to opportunities you may have never thought of.” – Radley Mackenzie ’03

6. Embrace Change
“You can’t rest on what you have done before, what you did last month, or five years ago. You really have to every day try and create something new that is going to help you out down the road.” – Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94

7. Be Fearless
“If you believe in your idea, get out there and make it happen. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out, you learn an absolute ton, and you nail it the next time. So many decisions are driven by the fear of failure – don’t let yourself fall into that trap and keep taking big risks!” – Jillian Evans ‘06

8. Take Risks
“Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Test out different subjects and hold on to what does not let your mind rest.” – Marc Seitz ’08

9. Be a Part the Bigger Picture
“Remember what it means to be a positive part of a community. Don’t get caught up trying to clamor to the top. Build strong supportive relationships with your peers and your competitors, think globally, act locally.” – Jordan Fowler ’05

10. Be Patient
“Take your time in figuring out what you want to do. There is a lot of pressure to pick something and stick with it, but I think careers and passions grow and evolve just as we do.” – Megan Breukelman ’11

Oh and… “Thank your parents. Seriously.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Many Ridley College alumni have gone on to enjoy successful careers in their respective fields. The Ridley College MentORship Programme offers these Old Ridleians an opportunity to contribute to the Ridley mission by advising younger alumni who have graduated within the last ten years. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or would like to take advantage of this programme as a mentee, visit here.

Students Transform Our Globe on Annual Service Trips

The Ridley motto, “May I be consumed in service” was aptly applied by three groups of students who travelled to Malawi, Guatemala and China during the March break. These service-learning excursions provided Ridleians with the unique opportunity to experience the living conditions in these countries, while actively contributing to their betterment.

At Ridley, emphasis is placed on global mindedness and service, so it comes as no surprise that so many Tigers were willing to dedicate their holidays to helping those less fortunate in distant communities. Here are some highlights from each of the 2018 service-learning trips:

Malawi

This March, Ridley continued its commitment to the Jacaranda School for Orphans, with 23 representatives making the long trek to Malawi for two weeks. Mr. Burke, Mrs. Darby and Dr. Des Vignes accompanied 20 students from Grades 9 to 12 as they embarked on an experience of a lifetime. This year, students brought an additional suitcase (23 suitcases total) filled with a variety of resources doe Jacaranda students including medical supplies, toys, laptops, tablets, art supplies, clothing and games.

While there, Ridleians were involved in an array of initiatives to benefit in the well-being of the local community, such as the Days for Girls project, delivering more than 20 feminine hygiene kits to the girls of Jacaranda. Students also worked on an outreach programme, going into a local village and helping to build a home for Mike, a boy in Grade 2, who is living with HIV and is also currently fighting cancer. One of the unique initiatives, that was even featured on a local television station, was the involvement of students collaborating with Jacaranda children to build prosthetic hands, brought in from Ridley’s “Helping Hands” Grade 11 class project.

 “Nothing prepares you for the experience of going to Malawi and Jacaranda. All you can do is “be free to fly” because that’s what the children of Jacaranda would do.” – Mrs. Wendy Darby ’99, Librarian and Archivist.

Many of the students reflected on how their time at Jacaranda had affected their perspective on life in a positive way. Some mentioned how they will now focus on the importance of expressing their gratitude towards their parents, becoming willing to convey their emotions more freely based on their personal observations of the children of Malawi, and treat every day as a gift – not taking for granted simple luxuries like running water and a warm bed.

Ridley’s connection to the Jacaranda School was initiated in October 2016, when founder, Marie Da Silva visited our campus to educate students on her mission in Malawi.

View photos.

Guatemala

The annual service trip once again brought a group of students to volunteer with The Doppenbergs in Guatemala (D.I.G.). This is a non-profit organization that helps build local schools, provides water and nutrition solutions to families and has developed the Centre of Hope for special needs children.

Part of the Doppenbergs mission is, “to work together with other to open their hearts and mind to service so together we can make this world a better place.” Ridleians followed in these footsteps by joining the Doppenberg’s altruistic efforts and positively impacting the children of Guatemala.

Ridleians spent the week participating in various projects, such as painting the school in preparation for the upcoming rainy season, as well as planting the nutrient-rich Moringa plants.

One particular experience put the students into the shoes of the Guatemalans. In an effort to better understand one of the challenges that local families endure, our students participated in a 1.5km “water walk.”

“This water walk made me realize that I take basic human needs such as clean water for granted. I did not realize how much work these women did for water until I experienced it myself.” – Vanessa Ferrante ’21

Students got to experience first-hand what life is like in Guatemala. The most cherished time spent, however, was connecting with children at the Centre for Hope who welcomed our students with open arms. The connections with these children had the most striking impact on our students.

“I learned how to be more independent, I created stronger bonds with my friends and teachers and I experienced a different way of living.” – Victoria Ferreira ’21

View photos.

China

A group of students travelled to China from March 16th to April 1st to participate in a cultural exchange sponsored by the Guiyang Education Bureau. Participants of the trip had the opportunity to collaborate with several primary schools in Guiyang, interacting with the school community, exchanging cultures and taking part in a variety of co-curricular activities.

The school communities were comprised of China’s left-behind children, and our Rildey students’ purpose was to inspire these children to pursue their education, strive to achieve their goals and dreams, and reduce the drop-out rate within these communities.

While all three trips comprised of vastly different experiences, what connects them is the intention behind their travel: giving back. Through these unique travel opportunities, students gain an appreciation of different cultures, opinions and ways of life. Service initiatives continue on campus, with our Ridleians dedicated to transforming our globe.