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Purple Leaf

My education gave me opportunities. I want to give back.

Hi! I’m Julia Richards, and I’m a legacy donor to Laurier.

I think of how expensive post-secondary school is compared to when I was going to school. It’s a lot more difficult now than it used to be. I really feel for students. So many have a hard time making ends meet, and many graduate with a tremendous amount of debt. I’m sure this will only get more challenging in the future.

When I think of the opportunities that have been available to me because of my education, I want to help students achieve their own dreams. I am happy to do so!

I decided to support education by including Laurier in my will. I have no children, so there was some extra room to help out causes I feel passionate about. And I had such a good experience at Laurier, so I thought this would be a meaningful way to give back.

Here’s a little about me: I graduated from Laurier in 1990 with a Bachelor of Music and then went back a few years later and graduated with a Master of Arts in Political Science in 1996. I then went back to school for a third time and got a Bachelor of Education in 2003 from Western University. Laurier didn’t have a teaching program at the time, otherwise I would have done my BEd at Laurier too!

I really loved my time at Laurier, and appreciated the opportunity to study things that interested me. I loved meeting new people, discovering new ideas, and the social life of course! I really enjoyed making music with my classmates. I also have a special memory of my master’s level research which covered new ground in my field. I looked at how different provincial governments used funding for the arts to further their political and ideological agendas.

My education has given me a lot of opportunities and I have tried several different career paths. I spent a few years in Toronto working as an administrative assistant for a dance company. I enjoyed the work, but the pay was small and made it difficult to continue to work in Toronto. I then got a job at Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo as an administrative assistant in the Music department. I enjoyed my time there very much and met a lot of great people. After five years there, I was ready for a change, and I applied to Western University to get my BEd. I started my teaching career in a teeny, tiny, little village called Plaster Rock in New Brunswick. It was a fascinating look at a different way of life and a different education system. Now that I teach in Ontario, I try not to complain about the number and quality of resources we have available to us, because by any measure, my school in New Brunswick had so much less.

I stayed in New Brunswick for two years, but I really missed my family, being so far away. Fortunately, I was able to get a new position in Ontario, close to where I grew up. I was about an hour away from my parents and two hours away from my sister instead of 13,000 kms away. Much better!

In Ontario, I have taught at two different schools. I just started teaching at my second school in September 2021. It has been a real challenge, but I think this year will be considerably easier – at least, I hope it will! We will see what surprises COVID-19 has in store for us.

Throughout my career, my professional and personal focus has been music. I have taught music privately and ran a flute choir in Waterloo. I have run some small ensembles and have played or sung in many others. I have played in the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Orchestra, the River Valley Stage Band, a Gilbert and Sullivan Fundraising Choir, the Wind Band of the Southampton Music Camp, and the Georgian Bay Community Orchestra, but my favourite group has to be the Owen Sound City Band.

I started playing with the City Band in 2005. In 2012, the conductor left the organization unexpectedly, and I volunteered to be a temporary conductor while they looked for a permanent one. A few months went by, and I was enjoying myself so much, I asked the executive if I could apply for the job. The executive said that they really hadn’t been looking for someone else as they hoped that I would stay on instead. Well, ten years later, I am still the music director and conductor of the Owen Sound City Band. I love figuring out what we will play each season. I love conducting rehearsals. And when everything clicks and we have a great concert, there is no better feeling!

I married late in life (I was 49!) and my husband and I have a rescue dog named Abbey. My husband is a contractor, so there is always a building project going on at our house.

Over my lifetime, it has been very satisfying to be able to give back to my community. I have had many opportunities come my way, and I have been very lucky. I want to give back to others who may not have been so fortunate; to help them have the opportunities that have brought me so much joy and meaning. Legacy giving is my way to give.


If you are interested in making a bequest to Laurier, please contact Cec Joyal, Development Officer, Individual & Legacy Giving, Advancement and External Relations at 519.498.4168 |

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