Jamie Rooney’s passport tells a story. Its pages are peppered with customs stamps from Mozambique, France, South Africa and the U.K., illustrating the global perspective of this Western student.
After high school, Jamie volunteered with Canada World Youth (CWY), an exchange program that fosters global understanding and action.
For his assignment, he travelled to Mozambique with his group to help out at an orphanage for 50 children. Many of the orphans encounter daily challenges such as malaria, unsafe water, scarce medical care and few school supplies.
“We took every opportunity we could to care for these children, teaching them and playing with them to give them what they needed,” says Jamie, BA’14.
That African experience inspired him to raise funds to improve the lives of the orphaned children. In the summer of 2010, he and a friend cycled across Canada (8,000 km through 10 provinces) and raised $17,500 in support of the orphanage.
Since then, serving as a director of CWY and speaking at a conference in South Africa, Jamie has taken up the cause to motivate more young people to seek overseas experiences.
“When you pursue opportunities, you never know where seeing the world will take you,” adds the 23-year-old.
For Jamie, that included the royal treatment. In June 2011, the Western student spoke at a Rideau Hall reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
“Yes, I met Will and Kate,” he admits. “Both were incredibly engaging and personable. I had the chance to share some of my experiences and converse about their philanthropic commitments.”
His world of learning also brought him to France as part of his Scholar’s Elective program at Western. For an academic year, he studied at Sciences Po, a school in the heart of Paris with a student enrolment from 150 countries and with an alumni list that includes Christian Dior, Marcel Proust and Pierre Trudeau.
“It was an outstanding experience to receive personal mentorship in the classrooms, cafés and everywhere in between, and to interact with students from every part of the globe in such an amazing, world city,” says Jamie.
His education at Western has also benefited from donor-funded student awards, including the Marguerite Torney Scholarship (established by a bequest from Marguerite Stoner Torney, BA’81) and the Memorial Scholarship (created by alumni and friends who want to honour someone through a memorial gift in support of students).
“This incredible donor support of my program is part of what makes Western a phenomenal place,” he says. “The whole community – alumni, faculty mentors and staff – contributes to student success and our ability to experience the world.”
Jamie’s journey will soon need another page from his passport. In the autumn of 2014, he will begin a master’s program in English at the University of Oxford.
“I see Oxford’s program as an opportunity to place my research and passions in a larger academic dialogue,” he says. “My experience at Western has cultivated both what I think about and how I think, thanks to the divergent perspectives of my classmates, professors and mentors.”
That’s a passport of learning worth more exploration and travel.
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