Pere Murray’s vision for Notre Dame was be that it would be a place that offers excellent education to all, regardless of their ability to pay.
That mission remains firmly in place, and has imbedded in many graduates a sense of deep and profound gratitude to the institution.
Graduates like Joel Rochon, class of 1953, who has demonstrated that gratitude in so many ways, including with a bursary in his family’s name beginning in 2015.
“Notre Dame made a great gift to me, and it shaped me, and made me who I am,” says Rochon.
“So being in a position to help a bit, in the work of the college, by giving back, so that others could benefit from that type of experience…to the college that meant so much me, and that should be repaid for its contribution to my life, to me it was simply fundamental.”
Rochon, now in his 80s, came from poverty in the tough mining town of Kimberley, B.C. He had heard of the college in the late 1940s from graduates who had come to southeast British Columbia looking for work in the mines.
An excellent hockey player hoping for the opportunity that playing junior for Pere Murray’s Hounds could offer, Rochon was sold on finding a way to get to Wilcox.
“The guys were student leaders at Notre Dame, and I was quite taken with them,” he says.
“Instead of just trying to find a junior team around, I thought I could go to ND, make their junior team, and go to school. At that time, they had a Bachelor of Arts degree offered at the school, so I thought that would be a place where I could play hockey, and get my education, and I could pay for it by doing summer jobs; so, it was a situation made in heaven for me.”
Rochon thrived in his five years at the college, and would go on to work as a reporter for a newspaper in Calgary, before getting his education degree at the University of Ottawa, and marrying in Ontario.
Upon graduation, he would work his way up the ranks in the Fort Motor Company at a plant in Oakville, Ontario, before founding the Rochon Partners Corporation in Toronto.
Rochon has never forgotten where he came from, serving as a member of the founding Board of Directors upon the passing of Pere Murray in 1975, and with his wife, sent their sons Martin and Murray to Notre Dame in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“I look back and reflect on your life, where I came from, and how Notre Dame shaped me,” he says.
“Two of my boys went there, and I know that a lot of our successes in career and life are directly related to the ways the college affected our character. That idea of dealing with people honestly, in a straightforward way, resonated a lot with the business people that I was dealing with. I was not focussed on just trying to make a buck, it was about doing it right and well, and if times get tough, you can persevere because you learned that at the college.”
The Rochon Bursary generously provides a $10,000 scholarship to a qualified student each year.