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by Noel Busse

When Ashley Kennedy arrived at the University of Regina, she had no idea that she would soon

be transferring to one of the most prestigious business schools in the country.

Once a student within the Paul J. Hill School of Business at the U of R, Kennedy is now on an academic scholarship at the Richard Ivey School of Business, located in the University of Western Ontario. 

The scholarship is worth $40,000, and covers the majority of tuition and costs for the two years that Kennedy will be attending the school.

“I really wasn’t expecting much when I applied, I was just kind of going for it to see what would come out of it, so I was very surprised when I did get accepted,” she said.

Kennedy started the program in August.  The First task on her long list of preparations; telling her parents she would be moving nearly 2500 km away from home.

“I hadn’t really explained to them what I was doing . . . it was a really quick application process, so I didn’t really have time to explain to them what was going on, so they were both really surprised but of course they were both really proud of me.”

Up until last year, the Paul J. Hill School of Business was simply known as the UniversityRegina’s faculty of business administration.  However, after receiving a donation of $ 10 million from Paul J. Hill, the school felt it appropriate to rename itself.  

Hill is a prominent Canadian businessman, a graduate of Richard Ivey, and president and chief executive officer of the Hill companies and Harvard Developments.

Anne Lavack, dean of the Paul. J. Hill School of Business, said that Hill has since played a major role in the school’s partnership with Richard Ivey.

“He wanted us to work together with the Ivey Business School, to try and learn from each other, and to bring some of the things that they do at Ivey to the University of Regina, to raise the profile of our programs,” said Lavack.

The scholarship that Kennedy was awarded is one of the initiatives brought about by this partnership.  Students accepted into the program take two years of classes at the University of Regina, and then move to Ontario to continue their education at Richard Ivey. 

“It’s a very intensive learning environment.  The calibre of competition in the classroom is much higher,” said Lavack.

For Kennedy, this couldn’t be any closer to the truth.  While she has always considered herself a good student and was involved in a host of extracurricular activities, she was surprised when she found out how steep the Richard Ivey learning curve was.

“Your confidence level in the first couple of weeks goes way down, because you really have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into,” said Kennedy.  “But then after a couple weeks you kind of get the hang of it, and it starts to level off.”

While 2008 and 2009’s groups of students were picked out of those already attending Paul J. Hill, the scholarship is now available to high school students.  Hopefuls with an average of 90 per cent or higher must send in their applications by March 15.

“That way when they arrive at the University of Regina in September of 2009, they’ll know that two years later they’ll be going to Ivey,” said Lavack. 

The current plan is to continue this scholarship program for the next five years, at which point the U of R hopes to have its own honours business administration program.

“Ideally, we’d have that in place before the end of the fifth year, when we send students away to (Richard Ivey) for the last time,” said Lavack.  If successful, this program would allow students attending the U of R to choose between the current bachelor program in business administration, and an honours program.

Kennedy, however, will have graduated long before any of these plans come to fruition.  She expects the next few years to be difficult, but feels that payoff will be worth it in the end.

“Ivey’s a really good school, and just the prestige of coming here is a really good opportunity,” she said.