Each morning, as the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus comes to life, more than 25,000 busy students, faculty and staff crowd the hallways and classrooms – almost five times the population of Brooke Tolofson’s entire hometown of Melfort.
But amid all the hustle and bustle of big-city university life, this first-year Arts and Science student has found a home away from home. Tolofson is a St. Thomas More College (STM) student. That means that she is part of a friendly college community within the greater USask campus, with access to resources like STM academic advisors, who know her by name; she can apply for the more than $180,000 in scholarships and bursaries that STM gives out each year; and enjoys a choice of quiet study spaces throughout the college, along with healthy food options in the college cafeteria. There are plenty of friendly familiar faces, and Brooke can choose to participate in several STM student clubs – an opportunity she eagerly seized upon with the Newman Players drama club.
“I knew that Newman Players club was part of the college, and that STM scholarships and bursaries were available,” said Tolofson, an aspiring drama student. When she was researching her step from high school to university, she arranged a tour of STM, and noticed the atmosphere was immediately very comfortable to her. “It doesn’t seem as intimidating as some of the big colleges on campus. I like the smaller class sizes,” she said. In February, Tolofson received an entering student bursary, and she is a cast member in the Newman Club production, rehearsing twice a week with her new friends. “It has been a perfect fit,” Tolofson said.
When STM was established in 1936 by the Basilian Fathers, as a Catholic Liberal Arts College on the Usask campus, it was only a simple, two-story, white wooden house at the corner of College Drive and Bottomley Avenue. Today, STM has expanded to include 110 faculty and staff, with more than 5,000 students registered in the 250 courses offered in 18 subject areas. Registration in STM classes is open to any USask student, with STM course credit is counted toward the requirements of Arts and Science degrees, and in many cases, satisfies the elective requirements in other USask degree programs.
Along with the increase in student and faculty numbers at STM, came a need for more space and upgraded facilities. Two major additions in the past 5 years, both recognized with civic heritage awards, provided the updates to meet student and faculty needs while planning for the future.
Increased enrolment numbers and upgraded facilities don’t tell the complete story of STM. It remains a college focused on promoting academic excellence while challenging its students to think creatively and critically about social issues; to communicate effectively and discover their potential as a whole person.
“STM continues to pursue the same mission that inspired its creation,” said Dr. Carl Still, interim president of the college. “We seek to provide a transformative education, in the Catholic intellectual tradition, for young people who will become agents of change in the world.”
STM students have the chance to focus on social justice issues through their courses, engage in community service-learning options, and participate in distinct college initiatives including study and travel abroad, with additional personal support available through campus ministers.
So, whether you simply dine at STM’s popular Choices cafeteria, hang out in the library, are registered in some of the many course offerings, or have additionally opted to self-declare for more benefits, you are sure to find STM a welcome home.