New partnership to benefit student transitions

Acadia University and Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association create on-campus support

WOLFVILLE, NOVA SCOTIA (December 4, 2019) — Acadia University announces a new partnership with the Valley African Nova Scotia Development Association (VANSDA) to enhance support for students. The partnership establishes a fulltime employment and cultural navigator to assist students with the transition to and from university. Although it has a holistic approach, the partnership focuses on helping students of African Nova Scotian, Black, or African descent.


Unconventional but effective

Dr. Geraldine Browning (HON '14) VANSDA chair signing the MOU with Acadia's Dr. Peter Ricketts
Dr. Geraldine Browning (HON '14) VANSDA chair signing the MOU with Acadia's Dr. Peter Ricketts

“We are living in a world that is more diverse and inclusive, and this partnership is about supporting all of our students in the best way we can,” says Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “The VANSDA partnership recognizes that some students face barriers getting into university and when they prepare to graduate and begin their careers. This new partnership model will help us, help them.”

During the signing of the MOU, representatives from Acadia University and VANSDA met to discuss the opportunities ahead.

“This is a historic moment for VANSDA and Acadia because this partnership demonstrates that true collaboration can be achieved when we put the students’ needs first,” says Robert Ffrench, VANSDA, CEO. “By working together, we can make a positive impact on the student experience at Acadia.”

The benefits of this new partnership include:

  • Providing information, support, and referrals to prospective, new, and returning students.
  • Supporting personal development of students.
  • Coordinating with Student Services staff and programs.
  • Connecting students on campus directly with the Nova Scotia Works system.
  • Volunteer and career planning and guidance.
  • Developing alumni and community support for job seekers.

A new role for a familiar face

Paulo Santana in conversation at University Hall

Paulo Santana attended Acadia as a sociology student and varsity basketball player. He left in 2008 to play basketball professionally in his native Angola before completing his degree. He has since returned to Acadia as a student and assistant basketball coach. Now, he’s accepted the role of Black Employment and Cultural Navigator. With an ability to speak seven languages and a passion for Wolfville, he’s eager to help others.

“I am here to help our students have a better university experience, to help them achieve success at Acadia, and in their lives after Acadia,” Santana says. “There is a lot of work ahead of me, but this partnership means that we are all working together to make a difference.”

About Acadia

Acadia University’s mission is to provide a personalized and rigorous liberal education, promote a robust and respectful scholarly community and inspire a diversity of students to become critical thinkers, lifelong learners, engaged citizens, and responsible global leaders.


VANSDA’s mission is to improve the quality of life for African Nova Scotians and other citizens in the Annapolis Valley by creating partnerships in employment, training, and government/economic development. Their focus is on increasing employment opportunities for all community members.

Media Contact

Sherri Turner
Manager, University Communications
Acadia University
(902) 585-1705

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VANSDA Partnership 2019

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Media Contact

Sherri Turner
Director, University Communications