Chancellor Michaëlle Jean already shining as St. Paul’s goodwill ambassador

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Seyni Mbaye and Michaëlle Jean

It didn’t take long for our newest chancellor to show her unique value to our St. Paul’s community. During a recent visit to Dakar, Senegal, the Right Honorable Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General of Canada, took the time to award former student Seyni Mbaye (BES ’17) with a Young Alumni Award.

When it was determined by the Alumni Advisory Council that Mbaye would be the award winner, the College understood it would not be possible to present the award in a normal ceremony, as he was currently working in Senegal. But fate had better plans in mind.

“It was a remarkable coincidence a week after reaching out to Seyni about the award, we found out that Mme. Jean would be travelling to Dubai and Senegal,” said Richard Myers, principal. “It seemed like a golden opportunity.

“We made the request to her and she was delighted to have an opportunity to carry out that official duty on behalf of the College.”

The awards ceremony took place at the residence of the Canadian ambassador in Senegal where the Embassy of Canada to Senegal was preparing to host a virtual fair, which answered questions on how to obtain a Canadian post-secondary education as a Senegalese citizen. Canada currently hosts more than 1,500 Senegalese nationals in universities and colleges across the country.

“I felt so incredibly special to be receiving this award, let alone to be receiving it from such an icon of Canadian history,” said Mbaye.

Before the formal ceremony, Mbaye had the chance to sit down with Chancellor Jean and discuss his experiences at the College, his latest endeavours and his interest in a political career.

Michaelle Jean
“She really took the time to get to know me,” said Mbaye. “At one point, she was guiding me through my efforts to network with the other guests who were also well-known in Canada’s development sector.

“She was so kind, down to earth, supportive and encouraging. She even offered to stay in touch and support my aspirations.”

Mbaye is a graduate of International Development (INDEV) and obtained a Master of Development Practice at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. He has devoted his career to tackling international development issues such as education, agriculture, water and sanitation, and entrepreneurship in Africa and the Americas.

Chancellor Jean also took a keen interest in Mbaye’s latest endeavour, the Senegalese School of Success, which provides the resources to help Senegalese high school graduates access post-secondary educational institutions all around the world.

“St. Paul’s is really so lucky to have Mme. Jean as our Chancellor,” says Myers. “She has flair, she has passion and she has a talent for making people feel special.  When you think about the role of a chancellor, it’s obvious she’s going to be a star.”