Hydro-Québec academic excellence scholarships: supporting expertise that benefits society

December 19, 2016, 2:36pm

A ceremony was held on December 8 in honour of the Hydro-Québec scholarship winners and in recognition of this generous donor, represented at the event by Réal Laporte, President, Hydro-Québec Innovation, Equipment and Shared Services and President & CEO, Société d’énergie de la Baie James. As part of the major Campus Montréal campaign, $405,000 in scholarships was awarded this year to graduate students at HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and Université de Montréal who are conducting research in fields associated with Hydro-Québec’s activities.

Scholarship winner Nathalie Blais, who gave an inspiring speech on behalf of the recipients, emphasized the philanthropic commitment of Hydro-Québec and how its scholarships are an important component of the company’s vision to foster knowledge that will benefit society. The following is a translated excerpt of her speech:

When I was a little girl, my father would sometimes bring me to his office. Our route always took us past the Hydro-Québec building, and he’d point to it and say: “That belongs to us, Nathalie.” I was too young to fully understand, but the pride in his voice was obvious, and that made me happy.

Of course, he was referring to the strength of this driver of economic development, but the main reason for his pride was the fact that the corporation belonged to the people.

It belonged to the entrepreneurs who put everything on the line, not just to progress individually but also to advance their community. It belonged to the engineers, architects and scientists who tirelessly went back to the drawing board or tested and re-tested to ensure excellence. It belonged to the women who courageously carved themselves a niche in a man’s world to become doctors, lawyers, university professors and other professionals. It also served people who, like my parents, never had the chance to attend university, mothers who stayed home to take care of their children, people with disabilities who were fighting to remain on the job market, and immigrants who arrived to enrich our society.

Today, Quebec society is better educated. My parents, like so many others of their generation, are proud to have children who hold degrees from Université de Montréal and HEC. Our society is also diverse. On November 6, I took my seven-year-old son to the open house at Polytechnique, where, in the strength and materials lab, he was literally as happy as a kid in a candy store. No doubt we’re looking at a future student of this great institution. My hope is that his mixed ancestry and dark complexion will never stand in the way of his ambitions. The world of tomorrow will reflect the diversity of my son. The need to be part of an open, welcoming, respectful community that allows each of us to contribute our individual skills and knowledge will remain an essential human need.

The scholarships we are receiving today are an extension of the mission of Hydro-Québec. I thank the trailblazers of this government corporation: Adélard Godbout, Jean Lesage and René-Lévesque. On behalf of the recipients, I also wish to sincerely thank the current leaders of Hydro-Québec for their confidence in us. For relying on us to conduct innovative projects. We, in turn, have a responsibility to put this money to good use. It is a public commodity, and we accept it as a torch to be passed on as our careers progress. The expertise we will acquire must serve to propel our society and world forward, not so much in a competitive sense, I hope, but rather in one that is contributory, where the public commodity spurs development that benefits one and all.

Nathalie Blais, lawyer, lecturer and doctoral student at the Faculty of Law at Université de Montréal and Hydro-Québec scholarship recipient.

Photo: Réal Laporte, President, Hydro-Québec Innovation, Equipment and Shared Services and President & CEO, Société d’énergie de la Baie James, Nathalie Blais and Dr. Guy Breton, Rector, Université de Montréal.

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