Irene Domecki - Domecki Family Prize in Polish Studies
“If you want to have a good standard of living, you study,” says Irene Domecki, donor of the Domecki Family Prize in Polish Studies. Domecki attributes her studies to everything she has done, positive that she would not have been able to accomplish anything without her education. “Studies gave me courage, knowledge and self-confidence..”
Leaving Poland for Canada in 1948, Domecki and her husband lived a short time in Winnipeg before finally settling in Edmonton. They were told Edmonton was new and developing, so they thought they would give the area a chance. When Domecki first saw the bush-covered land they were going to develop, she cried, desperately wanting to go back to Europe. But seeing the opportunity, her husband convinced her to stay and they successfully developed 12 lots in the area which is now known as North Glenora.
The Domeckis went on to create many significant areas and buildings in Edmonton, including the Jasper House highrise, the Biological Sciences building at the University of Alberta and 32 schools throughout the city.
While land development was the family business, education was always in their hearts. When the Polish program first started at the University of Alberta, it survived for two years with only five students. The third year saw an enrollment of only four and, needing a minimum of five to continue running, the program decided to shut down. Hearing this news, Domecki registered in the program, becoming the fifth crucial student. As a result, the program stayed open and has since become one of only two tenure-track programs of its kind in Canada.
“Older generations were not educated, so their purpose was to give education to their children. It gives [their children] opportunity,” she explains. Wanting to give young people with financial difficulties the opportunity to study as well, Domecki donated the Domecki Family Prize in Polish Studies, giving the highest achieving Polish Studies student assistance with tuition and other educational costs. It is a significant award for students dealing with rising tuition fees. “I wanted to give back to Canada because Canada gave me so much,” she explains, and we at the Faculty of Arts are so grateful to her for thinking of us.