Feature Story

2023 Alumni Award Winners

Celebrating exceptional Allisonians
By: Scott Hayes

Charles Frederick Allison Award

The Charles Frederick Allison Award, named in honour of the University’s founder, serves to acknowledge an Allisonian who has demonstrated exceptional, lifelong dedication to Mount Allison.

The Charles Frederick Allison Award

Jill Rafuse’s Mount Allison journey began with an eye to the University’s renowned Music program before fate intervened and she discovered her true calling in English. This led her to switch majors, ultimately earning an honours degree in English and a career in communications.

After graduation, Rafuse became an active member of the alumni community, dedicating her time and energy to various roles that left a lasting impact.

Among her most significant contributions were her roles as a Director on the Alumni Board, followed by two terms on the Board of Regents. She also established the Quadrant Internship in the Alumni Engagement Office, empowering the next generation of Mount Allison graduates to excel in the field of communications.

Rafuse actively participates in the University’s mentorship program and serves as lead volunteer for her class reunions. She was also the head fundraiser for the Class of '73 Travel Bursary. Her organizational skills and enthusiasm have played a pivotal role in bringing alumni back to campus, rekindling their connections with each other and with the University.

For Rafuse, the alumni community has been invaluable in both her professional career and personal life. Whenever she relocated or pursued new professional endeavours, she consistently found fellow alumni with whom she could connect. This network of like-minded individuals has not only facilitated her career growth but also provided a profound sense of belonging wherever she ventured.

The Charles Frederick Allison Award

Many of Charlie Scott’s family members had attended Mount Allison, making the campus and the institution a familiar presence in his life. But he wasn’t always convinced he would follow in their footsteps. When the time came for him to choose a university, he had his pick from several prestigious institutions across Canada. What tipped the scales in favour of Mount Allison was a slightly larger entrance scholarship — a small factor that would profoundly shape his future.

Reflecting on it now, Scott acknowledges that this seemingly arbitrary decision was a pivotal moment. Mount Allison not only provided him with an excellent education, but also offered opportunities to get involved in various activities, ranging from intramural sports to student government roles and responsibilities in residence, all of which would serve as the foundation for his future engagement as an alumnus.

Scott is deeply connected to Mount A, which he describes as a tight-knit community. He has invested his time and energy in various ways, including as President of the Mount Allison Alumni Board and as a Reunion volunteer. He actively engages with his Class of ‘83 peers and serves as one of the original connectors, inspiring others to make meaningful contributions to the University.

Scott is known as a keeper of stories and there’s always another tale to tell. While many knew him as “Tuna” during his time at Mount A, the story of how he got that nickname has been lost to time — which might be for the best.

Contemporary Achievement Award

The Contemporary Achievement Award recognizes an Allisonian who has made outstanding accomplishments early in their career.

Contemporary Achievement Award

Kenzie Lalonde has emerged as a trailblazer in the world of Canadian sports broadcasting. Hailing from Ottawa, it was Lalonde’s passion for hockey that led her to Mount Allison. She pursued a Bachelor of Commerce degree, served as the captain of the women’s hockey team, and was named a two-time Academic All-Canadian by U SPORTS.

Lalonde’s broadcasting career has seen her cover some of the most significant events in Canadian sports in recent years. Joining TSN as the Montreal Bureau Reporter, she has reported on the Montreal Canadiens and Alouettes. Her national broadcast experience also includes play-by-play coverage of the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in 2021 and 2022. Additionally, Lalonde served as the women’s hockey reporter at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, sharing her insights and analysis with viewers across the world.

Lalonde’s journey to success in the male-dominated world of sports broadcasting reached a milestone on March 14, 2021, when she became the first woman to provide play-by-play coverage for a televised QMJHL game, featuring the Halifax Mooseheads and Charlottetown Islanders. This groundbreaking achievement shattered barriers, paving the way for more women to excel in sports commentary roles.

As a rising star in Canadian sports broadcasting, Lalonde sets an inspiring example for all young alumni.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievement within or contribution to a community outside of Mount Allison University.


Christan Nicholson’s path as a portrait artist has been marked by many accolades and accomplishments. But when reflecting on his personal achievements, Nicholson emphasizes two significant milestones.

First, he proudly recalls being the first student to graduate with distinction in Fine Arts. His heartfelt anecdote about initially overlooking his name on the list of graduates, only to later discover the prestigious distinction, underscores the high esteem in which his professors held his work.

Second, he takes immense pride in having independently built his career without external benefactors or grants, considering it his proudest accomplishment.

Nicholson decided to embark on a full-time career as a portrait artist at the age of 31. His distinctive style, characterized by a vibrant use of colour while maintaining a remarkable degree of realism, swiftly garnered recognition and acclaim.

His contributions to Canadian art are of significant note, especially through his Canadian Authors Series, which featured portraits of 32 celebrated Canadian writers, including Margaret Atwood.

His artistic journey has seen him create over 700 hundred portraits, ranging from everyday Canadians, university presidents, and prominent figures such as former governor general Roméo LeBlanc (‘77) and former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Nicholson’s connection to Mount Allison remains a constant theme in his life and career. You will often see him proudly wearing his Mount A scarf, a symbol of his enduring affection for his alma mater.

Photo caption of banner image: 2022 and 2023 winners of the Alumni Achievement Awards at the 2023 Alumni Banquet (l-r): Dr. William McIntyre (’06), MacKenzie Lalonde (‘16), Charlie Scott (‘83), Jill Rafuse (‘73), Dr. Robert (Bob) Hawkes ('72, '78), Maura Hunter (‘79), Past Alumni Board President Christy DeMont ('80), and Christan Nicholson (‘73).