Alumnae Spotlight – Rev. Susan McAllister | Trafalgar Castle School
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March 07, 2024

Alumnae Spotlight – Rev. Susan McAllister

Melissa Nowakowski

“Ontario Ladies College Had a Huge Impact on my Life.”

 

In the fall of 2023, Trafalgar Castle School staff had the pleasure of reconnecting with Class of 1973 alumna and Prefect, Rev. Susan McAllister (nee Bennett) during an alumnae social in Kingston, ON. Susan’s family had moved to Sudbury in 1972, and the high school she attended was not a good fit for her. She asked her parents if she could attend Ontario Ladies’ College (OLC) because her grandmother had been a student there in the early 1920s. One of Susan’s favourite memories of OLC was the sense of belonging and how it made her feel like part of a family.

“I felt welcomed right away,” said Susan. “OLC provided me with a strong sense of self and had a huge impact on my life.”

Susan has fond memories of the School and remembers her teachers, in particular Mrs. Hallpike, who always wore a string of pearls over her glasses and was strict but wanted her students to have a good understanding of literature. “Plus, Mr. Palmer, whose first year of teaching was with our grade 12 class – what an initiation!” notes Susan. “As with all students at OLC/Trafalgar – if only the walls could talk, there would be so many stories to share of times spent in laughter, pranks, tears and friendship.”

Upon graduation from OLC in Grade 13, Susan attended Queen’s University and earned her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree. She attended Queen’s for Business/Commerce and then transferred to Sociology. She graduated with her Master of Divinity degree in 2000 while caring for three young children and commuting to Kingston from Belleville. “I never intended to go into the Ministry, but I had a calling,” said Susan. “OLC taught me to be myself and to excel at what I did well. It gave me strength and encouraged me to believe in my capacity and abilities.”

Susan has been the Minister of the Princes Street United Church, in Kingston for the past nine years and previously ministered churches in Scarborough, Colborne, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Amherst, Nova Scotia. “Kingston is familiar, and it was nice to come back to the community,” added Susan.

Susan currently serves on the Board of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, is a volunteer group fitness and yoga instructor at the Kingston Y, and loves visiting her daughters and their families in Geneva, Switzerland and Canmore, Alberta.

One of Susan’s favourite things about her role as Minister is listening to parishioners’ stories and meeting new people while building long-lasting relationships with the church’s community. “Being a Minister offers me the opportunity to be a part of people’s life journeys at critical times,” said Rev. Susan. “I get to celebrate the birth of a child, weddings, support those who are sick or suffering and journey through the hills and valleys of end of life with individuals and their families. It truly is special to be included in these moments in a family or person’s life.”

“I can’t stress enough the impact that OLC had on my life,” said Susan, who was Captain of Hare House. “I established lifelong friendships and discovered who I was as a person. The school’s purpose and vision then and even now remains the same to encourage young women to be empowered to learn and to strive toward achieving their goals and dreams.”

Susan shared some advice for current Trafalgar students, “Be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek out knowledge, mentorships and mental health support.” She added, “Take advantage of mentors and those who have the life experience to help guide and direct you throughout your life.”

 

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