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Do a little good, every day, in whatever you can

Submitted by
Jasmine Nelson

As a member of the Social Work faculty, Elaine Spencer has served RDC learners directly since 2005. She is a dedicated and passionate instructor, scholar and researcher. In addition to her work in program development, Elaine collaborated on a Canadian Social Work ethics text, “Social Work Ethics:  Progressive, Practical and Relational Approaches” (Oxford University Press, 2017), and contributed writing and research to projects designed to include the perspectives of Settlers, Newcomers and First People. 

“Teaching is incredibly rewarding,” says Elaine. “As a Registered Clinical Social Worker (RCSW), I have a duty to address systemic oppressions and to work to remove barriers, and one way I can do this is through teaching.” Her commitment to accessibility, equality and reconciliation is not only reflected in her teaching and her scholarly work, but also in her philanthropy. One important area of focus for Elaine is supporting student scholarships and bursaries, and encouraging others who are able to do the same.  

Don Snow was the Social Work program founder at RDC, and a personal mentor to Elaine. He filled a variety of roles in his time at the College and, in retirement, returned to teach in the Social Work program. “Don emphasized the honour and privilege in teaching the beginning level of social work.  He taught with such authenticity and humility and I will never forget the understanding he offered to mature students, returning to college, ‘unsure and full of their fear of failure,’” she says. The Don Snow Memorial Bursary is an opportunity to support students while honoring Don’s memory and legacy. 

Tera Dahl-Lang was a Métis scholar and Instructor in the Social Work program from 2006 until her early death in 2014. “Tera taught students, colleagues and leadership at RDC from an Indigenous worldview, and I am ever thankful for that growth opportunity. Tera asked for a bursary to be set up in her name, for Métis or non-status Indigenous Social Work students,” says Elaine. The Tera Dahl-Lang Memorial Bursary provides access to underrepresented students, and contributes to diversity in the Social Work field.  

“I give to RDC because I am able. I have seen the difference a bursary makes in the lives of students who have received the awards.  I love that I got to purchase a brick through Paving Our Future, and have Tera and Don’s names memorialized at RDC, while donating to the College.  The brand new Right to Learn bursary, for Black, Indigenous and Students of Colour, will also receive my support,” says Elaine.  

In so many ways, Elaine’s work has had an important impact our community and our world. She works with community and non-profit organizations to design educational events and conferences, which contribute to continuously improving Social Work practice. Furthermore, her students go on to make deep and lasting impacts on the communities they serve. “My parents always told me, do a little good, every day, in whatever way you can,” says Elaine, “and supporting student through scholarships and bursaries is one way that I can do good.” 

For more information about how you can support these or other student scholarships and bursaries, contact abby [dot] kaun [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca (subject: Difference%20Makers%20-%20Scholarships) (Abby Kaun )or download our Scholarships How-To

Interested in learning more about how you can support RDC students?

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