A teacher’s special gift

On a planet where there are a lot of problems to solve, Cathy Garvey has a great solution.

21 January 2022

On a planet where there are a lot of problems to solve, Cathy Garvey has a great solution. 

“I believe education is the answer to a lot of problems,” she says. “Education, to me, is the key to building strong communities.”

Much of history has proven her right.

Scientists have solved countless challenges. Medical researchers discovered vaccines that have saved millions of lives. Artists prove that learning is the key to creativity. And every day, university graduates are working to solve society’s problems.

That’s why Cathy included the University in her estate plan. She wants to help deserving students, particularly female international students, who can’t otherwise afford an education.

With assistance from the University of Alberta, Cathy set up a bursary for elementary education students and a gift supporting the Parkland Institute.

“I feel very happy that I did this. It’s important to keep supporting the University. And I would suggest that other people who are interested in including the University in their Will, work directly with the team at the U of A” she says.

Cathy told us she observed the power of kindness while at the U of A studying for her Master's of Education degree. The mother of a fellow graduate student died in Kenya, and the woman couldn’t afford to attend her mom’s funeral. So, a professor launched a fundraising campaign so she could go.

“I’ll always remember that kindness. What a way to go above and beyond,” Cathy says.

Cathy retired in 1996 after a 34-year career in education, including 12 years as an elementary school principal. She says the most rewarding part of being a teacher was seeing growth and making special connections with students and parents.

Cathy received her first degree at the University of Alberta and her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. She says she’s been continually inspired by the transformation in people when they develop the skills to read and write, retrieve information, and express themselves.

Cathy is also a dedicated community volunteer. Her years of volunteer work include the Canadian Federation of University Women, Amnesty International and serving on the City of Edmonton’s Historical Board.

Cathy believes the gifts in her Will can help a new generation of lifelong learners and educators. “I’m very grateful to the University. It opened up a whole new world for me. I was able to get a solid career from my degree and I want women from other countries to have the same opportunities.”

If Cathy or her professor’s acts of kindness make you want to do more, please contact the U of A’s Planned Giving team.  They are here to help and answer any questions you might have. You can reach Kathy Fitzgerald at 780-492-2616 or kathy.fitzgerald@ualberta.ca or Hilary Fabrizio at 780-996-7808 or hilary.fabrizio@ualberta.ca.