Laurier’s notable alumnae: Keegan Connor Tracy

Editor-in-Chief Bronte Behling interviews one of Laurier’s featured female alumni.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and the theme this year is “invest in women: accelerate progress,” the Government of Canada announced. This theme highlights the government’s dedication to exemplifying that each Canadian has a “role to play in building a future where everyone can reach their full potential.”

For many women, this involves choosing to study at an accredited university across the country. Since its opening in 1911, Laurier has been home to many notable female alumni including Mary Berg (winner of MasterChef Canada), Jean Crowder (member of the New Democratic Party from 2004-2015), and Cindy Eadie (former professional third baseman and hockey goaltender).

Since its opening in 1911, Laurier has been home to many notable female alumni not included in the list above but valued all the same.

The number of notable female alumni from Laurier has led to many awards and recognition ceremonies within the school to recognize the exemplary work produced by female students. One such ceremony is the Outstanding Women of Laurier Gala.

The event, created in 2006, highlights the “phenomenal talent” and “exceptional achievements” of Laurier’s female athletes. Another form of recognition for Laurier’s female students are the Laurier Centre for Women in Science (WinS) scholarships and grants that are given each year to support “women students in science and math-focused fields” as well as research centered on “gender parity in science and mathematical social sciences”.

With support from the university, many women have become featured on Laurier’s “notable alumni” list. One such member is Keegan Connor Tracy, Canadian actress, director, and author. After graduating from Laurier with a degree in social psychology, Connor Tracy has starred in popular series such as ABC’s Once Upon a Time (as the Blue Fairy) and Disney’s Descendants series (as Queen Belle).

“At the time, I knew I wanted to be an actor. However, I really wanted to be taken seriously and I thought getting a degree was important,” said Connor Tracy when asked why she chose to study at Laurier. “I looked around and Laurier was the best one.”

After realizing that the business program wasn’t for her, Connor Tracy changed majors. “To this day, I wish I had stayed in it. At the time, I didn’t even know film school existed. It’s hard to imagine that there was a time before you could go on the internet and find anything you wanted. But we just didn’t have that,” said Connor Tracy.

When it comes to memories at Laurier, one that stood out to Connor Tracy was the year that Laurier won the Yates Cup in 1991. In the game, Laurier beat Western University 13 to 12 at the now-demolished J.W. Little Stadium.

“A bunch of us made outfits which we painted yellow and purple. I remember winning at the last moment and all of us jumping out onto the field. That is something that I’ll always remember, and it was exciting to be part of that,” said Connor Tracy.

One professor that inspired Connor Tracy during her time at Laurier was Rockney Jacobsen, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy who inspired Connor Tracy to make changes in her life.

“[Jacobsen] had such a significant effect on the trajectory of my life that I wrote to him years later,” said Connor Tracy.

This impact resulted in Connor Tracy questioning her religious beliefs due to one of his lectures. “I had until that time been a Catholic and inculcated in Christianity. [Jacobsen] posed a question that made me understand that [Catholicism] was not an absolute. I felt released from its obligation, and it was really life-changing for me,” said Connor Tracy.

Now, having long graduated from Laurier, Connor Tracy encourages female graduating Golden Hawks to diversify as they move into the working world.

“Don’t be singular in your focus because there are so many changes in life,” said Connor Tracy. “Few of us do one thing for our entire lives. If you can diversify your skill set, then you can shift into other avenues that might interest you. If you diversify your skill set, then you will be ready for those challenges.”

These challenges, of course, often involve the continued struggle for equal rights, as Connor Tracy mentions while describing what International Women’s Day means to her on a personal level.

“It’s not that long ago that we were even more under the thumb of the patriarchy than we are now. I think what’s happening right now shows us that there’s still a threat to our equality, and the fact that we are not considered to be equal in the way that we should at this point in time. It’s why I try to be involved with organizations that put the rights of women and girls at their forefront,” said Connor Tracy.

This belief in equality shines through Connor Tracy’s work and is demonstrated in her two children’s books, This is a Job for Mommy!: An A-Z Adventure and Mommy’s 26 Careers. Dedicated to inspiring young girls, both titles have been well-reviewed.

“The best way that we can deal with – for example of global poverty – is if we empower women and girls by giving them bodily autonomy, and an education. This raises everybody up,” said Connor Tracy.

The future of the world lies in the hands of women – and female graduates from Laurier who, as Connor Tracy has, will have an impact on their communities. Let’s continue to lift each other up as female Golden Hawks. After all, as stated by the Government of Canada, “women’s success is everyone’s success.”

Few of us do one thing for our entire lives. If you can diversify your skill set, then you can shift into other avenues that might interest you. If you diversify your skill set, then you will be ready for those challenges.

Keegan Connor Tracy

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