An investment in the future

 

Montieth Illingworth ’80, President of Montieth & Company, has created an endowment fund at Trinity College to support international travel and experiential learning opportunities for students.

The inspiration for this fund came through personal experience. His first year at university was a challenge, and it was his travel experiences that ultimately gave him the direction he needed to excel as a student. “I deferred a year and travelled in Europe and the Middle East. My first year was a tough transition. I struggled academically. In a sense I wanted to get back to ‘real world’ experiences.” And so, in 1977, Montieth decided to go to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), then in the grips of a bloody civil war, to document the clash between the African majority and the ruling European minority.

“I wanted to go in part to bring attention to a gross injustice. That was important then, post-Watergate, the war in Vietnam was ending, and the liberation and independence movements throughout Africa were still fresh on people’s minds. I suppose it was a Hemingwayesque way of engaging in the world.”

What he experienced in Rhodesia would shape his life in ways he never could have imagined. Upon his return, the 20 year old published his first article and photographs in the Globe and Mail documenting parts of his experiences in Africa.

“The experience shaped me in so many ways. It made me a better student, but not without a lot of support from my Trinity professors.” The experience, and the publishing of his article inspired him to go into journalism. “Without that experience, and the Globe and Mail piece, I would have never gotten into the Journalism School at Columbia.” This decision set Illingworth on a journalistic career spanning 15 years, writing on a wide range of topics, from foreign affairs to African political economy, business and finance and the business of sports as well as a 1991 biography of infamous boxer Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson: Money, Myth and Betrayal).

These experiences are what inspired Montieth to create the Montieth M. Illingworth Fund. “Academics are absolutely key of course, but so is practical experience. So if the fund has a theme it is to support travel for student projects that both engage the world on important topics and align with an academic interest. But it’s also about getting out of your own comfort zone, opening your eyes up to a reality which you know is out there but you really can't understand until you see it, get into it, feel it tangibly, experience the people who are impacted, what they feel and think.”

Montieth believes that these experiences not only shaped his life, but made him both a better student, and a better person.

You can learn more about Montieth's time in Rhodesia in the spring issue of Trinity magazine, in mailboxes spring 2017.