Passings: Michelle Hughes

A field of flowers at sunset

The Schulich School of Business has announced that dedicated recruitment coordinator and proud York alumna Michelle Hughes passed away on Tuesday, March 21 after a long battle with cancer, with her family by her side.

A loving and beloved mother, wife and daughter, Hughes leaves behind her husband, John; her children, Christopher, Johan and Samantha (Sage); and her mother, Violet.

Michelle Hughes portrait
Michelle Hughes

In his recent statement honouring Hughes’ memory, Schulich Dean Detlev Zwick wrote, “Michelle was the recruitment and communications coordinator for the Master of Management Program and the Master of Accounting Program. She joined Schulich in 2009 after having worked for nearly a decade as a career advisor at Humber College and DeVry Institute of Technology. She graduated from York University in 1994 with a BA in psychology, and during her time as a student, was elected president of the York Federation of Students (YFS) – a testament to the high esteem in which she was held by her peers.”

Hughes’ steadfast commitment to bettering her community and creating opportunities for others was not only demonstrated in her election as the first Black YFS president, but also through the work she carried out with myriad charities and fundraising initiatives, including: Bring Back our Girls; The Black Link; and Ebony Toastmasters, which she co-founded.

“Michelle was the consummate people person – engaging and caring,” Zwick continued. “She was known for her infectious enthusiasm and energy; her sense of humour; and her positive, can-do disposition. Her motto – proudly displayed as an icon next to her Schulich email – was ‘Work hard and be nice to people.’ When Michelle was hospitalized due to her illness, her colleagues described her as an inspiration to others, and remarked on her strength, grace and sense of compassion.”

Among the many co-workers and alumni whose lives were touched by Hughes, a common refrain has been that her welcoming presence greatly influenced the decisions of many to join the Schulich community.

Zwick noted that, “In her spare time, Michelle worked as a motivational speaker and developed a public speaking program to assist young people in finding their voice and gaining confidence. She was also deeply committed to advocacy on behalf of Black youth and devoted a lot of time and energy to inspiring and mentoring Black students at Schulich. She took great satisfaction in sharing stories about some of the students whose life path and career prospects changed, and she would often say, ‘Changing lives – one or 101 at a time.’”

Hughes’ visitation ceremony will take place on Thursday, March 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Turner & Porter’s Butler Chapel in Etobicoke. Her funeral service will follow on Friday, March 31 at 1 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Humber Heights in Etobicoke.

In memory of Hughes, and in observance of her funeral service, the University flag will be lowered to half-mast on Friday.

“Our School will also host a memorial service at a later date to bring together family, friends and colleagues to share our memories and celebrate Michelle’s life,” Zwick said. “Donations received in support of the Michelle Hughes Memorial Fund will allow us to create a new student award in Michelle’s honour.

“The award will be given annually to an incoming Black student in our Master of Management Program with demonstrated community leadership. It is a fitting legacy for Michelle, who was committed to making business education more inclusive and accessible for individuals from Black communities,” he added.

Those wishing to make a donation can do so here; messages of condolences and memories of Michelle, can be shared here.