DEFIANCE, Ohio – Defiance College celebrated thetenth anniversary of the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity with a program and banquet on Oct. 13. The evening included announcement of the first-ever McMaster Humanitarian Award, recognition of international student scholarships, and presentations by students who have participated in international and local projects.
The McMaster School was started in 2002 with a generous gift from Harold and Helen McMaster, both DC alumni. The McMaster School at Defiance College has enabled 216 student scholars and 79 faculty fellows and associate fellows to undertake more than 280 projects in Belize, Cambodia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Jamaica, New Orleans, and Thailand. Projects have ranged from training rural health care providers in Cambodia to use microscopes to diagnose malaria and tuberculosis, to assisting a group of women in a small village in Belize to start a restaurant; from assisting victims of domestic violence, to training both educators and students; from doing chemical analysis of drinking water in small towns and villages, to installing solar panels and to protecting endangered species. The anniversary event was a chance to reflect on the impact that the McMaster School has had on those directly involved with its programs on campus and around the world.
“It is rare that a single family can make such a significant impact on such a broad scale in such a short period of time,” said Defiance College president Mark Gordon. “But that is what the McMaster family has achieved.”
The McMaster School has also stimulated numerous other activities at Defiance College, including an annual symposium on individual liberties; regular “Constitutional Conversations”; Project 701 (the student run non-profit); the Defiance College Partnership for Jobs; and Defiance’s new Imagine Initiatives, which commit the College to providing a range of life-changing domestic and international cultural and travel opportunities for its students.
The McMaster Humanitarian Award was presented to John and Lynn Witte, Toledo. The Wittes (John is one of the founders of the solar design firm Advanced Distributed Generation) were integral in the system design and installation of a solar powered system on a school in Belize in memory of Harold McMaster. Not only did they travel with the McMaster School to install the panels on a government school in a village without electricity, but they also returned two years later to help build a small house for its teachers. Their contribution has significantly improved access to education and the opportunities that the children of the village have today.
To recognize the vision of Helen McMaster and her late husband, it was announced that a plaque would be erected in a restaurant in rural Belize, a business that was created as a direct result of a McMaster initiative. Gordon recalled that when he first met Helen three years ago, “One of the things she made clear to me was that she wanted the McMaster School’s projects to encourage residents of small towns and villages to take entrepreneurial risks. She wanted us to provide assistance, to villagers in unleashing their own potential to better their lives.”
As a result, recent DC graduate Bryant Green assisted a group of Belizean women to realize their dream of opening a restaurant in their village.
The College also honored each of the McMaster siblings with scholarships in their names. These scholarships provide educational opportunities to study at Defiance College for international students who benefit from learning in and learning about America and are specifically available to students in communities abroad with which DC has a relationship. This year’s scholarships enabled four students from Jamaica to begin study at Defiance College this fall: Cormack Lazarus received the Ronald McMaster International Student Engagement Scholarship; Lornette Lynch, the Jeanine Sandwisch Dunn International Student Engagement Scholarship; Oshin Walker, the Nancy Cobie International Student Engagement Scholarship; and Tawana Foster, the Alan McMaster International Student Engagement Scholarship.
Mary Ann Studer, dean of the McMaster School, noted, “The McMaster family knew ten years ago what we all now clearly understand: that when scholarship is driven by a desire to positively impact humanity, what results is an experience that embodies interdependence, critical thinking, passion, and a global conscience.”
Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is www.defiance.edu.