Lynda McKeown strongly believes in lifelong learning.
Sometimes though, it's not that easy to stop a career – and a life – to go back to school. McKeown saw the difficulties first hand. She said one of her biggest challenges as she returned to Lakehead was finding the money to take time off work.
"Anybody who wants to go on and do some studies could use financial assistance," says McKeown. "That's really what possessed me to talk to the University in the first place to think about setting up a donation."
After contacting Lakehead University's Office of Advancement, McKeown set up a legacy gift with her lawyer in the form of an insurance policy in her will, naming Lakehead University as the beneficiary. She specified that it be used to set up an award for returning students to get the financial assistance they need, with preference given to dental hygienists.
"A gift of an insurance policy to the University allows for a large donation at a small cost to the donor," said Lee-Anne Camlin, Major Gifts/Planned Giving Officer at the Office of Advancement.
Education has very much been central in McKeown's own life. Her grandfather, L. Y. McIntosh, MD, modelled lifelong learning. McKeown graduated from the University of Toronto in 1964 and moved back to become Port Arthur and Fort William's first dental hygienist. She went to Lakehead University part time over the years to get her HBA in Philosophy, with a minor in Occupational Ethics.
McKeown eventually went back full time and received her MA in Sociology in 1995. Her thesis topic was The Regulated Health Professions Act and Dental Hygiene: A Study of the Changing Social Organization of Health Care Delivery in Ontario. It was a topic she knew very well, having chaired the Transitional Council 1992-1994 that led to the formation of the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO). She was elected its first president in 1994.
McKeown said that in her case, furthering her education was crucial to reaching a major goal for her: setting up a self-regulating body for dental hygienists in Ontario.
"If dental hygienists are going to improve the oral health of the public, they need to be in academic studies like public health, sociology, and political studies to affect policy and ensure that policy developments that deal with health involve oral health," she said.
Lynda was elected CDHO's first president in 1994.
Today Lynda provides independent dental hygiene services for people staying in long-term care facilities, and is an instructor herself.
"There are so many people who have graduated from Lakehead University, and got that education and training to provide them with lifelong income."
For Lynda, setting up a legacy gift for Lakehead University is about giving back to the school that helped her reach her goals. A legacy gift will help future students accomplish their personal and professional goals too.