Campus Life - Kamloops  

Provincial graduate scholarships support environmental research

Wendy Margett, MScES, at studying the invasive smallmouth bass at BC's Cultus Lake.

Thompson Rivers University has awarded four graduate students with entrance scholarships valued at $15,000 each, marking a $60,000 investment by the Province of BC through the BC Graduate Scholarship Fund

This year’s recipients are all engaged in research that explores the environment and issues of sustainability.

Through her research, scholarship recipient Wendy Margett, who is completing her Master of Science in Environmental Science (MScES), hopes to find ways to suppress the population of invasive smallmouth bass in British Columbia’s Cultus Lake. Her research is vital to support Cultus’ endangered sockeye salmon and pygmy sculpin.

Chloe Howarth, also completing her MScES, is working with the Osoyoos Indian Band to better understand the migration tactics of the Western rattlesnake, and the roles of landscape and habitat in shaping migratory patterns.

Hannah Allen, a Master of Education student, is working with instructors of two online sustainability courses to determine how experiential learning impacts student’s values and behaviours around issues of sustainability. 

Finally, Breanne McAmmond, MScES, is employing genomic sequencing tools to find out if microbes will break down harmful chemicals in the environment. It is hoped that her insights will inform future bioremediation strategies.

“Provincial support for our graduate students is essential. The recipients of these scholarships will no doubt go on to enrich our understanding of the world around us, and we offer our sincerest congratulations,” says Troy Fuller, director of Research and Graduate Studies.

These merit-based awards are granted to students in research-focused professional programs and have a significant impact on the lives of the students receiving them. They allow students to concentrate on their research and relieves some of the financial pressure that comes with being a graduate student. 

What the students say

“The BC Graduate Scholarship is huge in terms of covering my expenses this upcoming year. I feel like I can focus completely on my project, including my summer fieldwork at Cultus Lake. As we all know, grad school in itself can be stressful, so relieving any financial pressure makes a big impact.” 
– Wendy Margetts, MScES

“I’m extremely grateful to receive this award; it’s an honour to have my research recognized in this way, and it motivates me to learn and grow even more during this exciting time in my life.” 
– Breanne McAmmond, MScES

“I am thrilled to have been selected as a recipient for this prestigious award! The last year has presented a number of unique and difficult challenges for me as a student, and I feel so grateful for the support this award will provide as I continue my research on sustainability education.” 
– Hannah Allen, MEd

“It’s a huge honour to be receiving the BC Graduate Scholarship this year and to have my research recognized as being worthwhile and important. I feel extremely grateful to be selected as a recipient. This award is providing me with financial relief that will allow me to continue putting all of my time and focus into my project.” 
– Chloe Howarth, MScES

Limitless campaign surpasses $48 million

TRU’s Limitless fundraising campaign has now exceeded $48 million, despite a year of hardship for many. Generous donor support has brought the campaign to the brink of its $50-million goal, with priorities spanning student support, research and capital projects.

“Donors have shown profound generosity in their support for TRU students during a period that has challenged us socially and economically,” said Vice-President University Relations Brian Daly. “The immense support for Limitless over the past year has emphasized our close relationship with our communities and advanced key priorities at a crucial time. With continued support, Limitless is positioned to be the most successful fundraising campaign in TRU’s history.”

Limitless was publicly launched on Oct. 10, 2019 with a goal to raise $50 million alongside TRU’s 50th anniversary. Individuals, corporations and foundations have contributed greatly to the campaign, funding new equipment purchases, new merit- and needs-based awards, sponsoring innovative programming and upgrading lab spaces. Some recent gifts include:

  • Donations last summer to the First-Year Student Resiliency Fund and the Emergency Student Support Fund totalled $66,000 toward Limitless, funding emergency bursaries at the onset of the pandemic and created new awards for students beginning their post-secondary education during the pandemic.
  • Spencer and Janet Bryson’s donation to the campaign financed the purchase of a pediatric mannequin for the School of Nursing. This lifelike, state-of-the-art equipment helps students learn specialized skills to treat young patients. As retired public educators, Spencer and Janet know the value of hands-on training. The technology is utilized in the Sherman Jen High-Fidelity Simulation Centre in the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health.
  • Family, friends, former students and colleagues together donated $28,000 to create the Dr. John Ciriani Mathematics Award in honour of the late John Ciriani, who enjoyed a long career at TRU—starting at Cariboo College in 1971. Anyone interested can still contribute to this fund by contacting the TRU Foundation.
  • Four Kamloops Rotary Clubs together contributed $125,000 to Limitless in support of the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health, which celebrated its grand opening in September. Daybreak Rotary, Rotary West, Aurora Rotary and Kamloops Rotary made the joint donation in support of health-care education.
  • The Law Foundation of BC in the past year gave $603,000 to support various needs in the Faculty of Law, including funding for the TRU Community Legal Clinic, research grants, work placement opportunities and student awards.
  • Kamloops Ford Lincoln has donated a 2020 Lincoln MKZ to the School of Trades and Technology, giving automotive students a chance to work on a luxury vehicle with the latest technology. Ford Canada is also giving students access to its online Automotive Career Exploration training, courses that educate technicians on the latest vehicle systems.

“Kamloops Ford Lincoln is a longtime partner with TRU and the trades and we’ve got multiple students that have come up through the program, so we jumped on the opportunity to donate,” general manager Craig Brown told Castanet Kamloops.

Limitless, the largest campaign ever launched by TRU, is now in its final stretch to reach $50 million. The campaign is guided by four pillars: Supporting Students, Innovating for the Future, Collaborating with our Community, and Building Capacity. For more on Limitless, visit tru.ca/limitless.

Limitless headlines:

Fresh funding brings Indigenous learnings to the forefront

TELUS sponsors carbon accounting program

TRU receives posthumous $350,000 donation

TRU Alumni and Friends Association donates $10,000 to First-Year Student Resiliency Fund

Windsor Plywood Foundation chips in $75,000 for TRU carpentry program

Pursuing dreams: Mother and daughter enrol at TRU

For Gunjan Sanghavi, COVID-19 served as a reminder that you shouldn’t wait forever to pursue your dreams because you never know what’s coming. So when her daughter Khushi Desai applied to Thompson Rivers University (TRU), she decided to go back to school as well.   

“Getting my PhD has always been my dream and my daughter was like, why not now,” says Sanghavi, who is currently earning a post-baccalaureate diploma in human resources as the first step toward her dream.

Sanghavi consulted with a TRU representative in India before applying. “He was very helpful in guiding me and clearing my doubts,” she says.  

Sanghavi and Desai are studying at TRU from Mumbai, India, while they await their visas. Desai is pursuing a bachelor’s degree, majoring in psychology.

At first, Sanghavi was apprehensive about studying at the same university as her daughter, but Desai was supportive and the two have found comfort in sharing their virtual learning experience. Often that means starting the school day at midnight in order to attend lectures.

“In our house, somebody is always sleeping and somebody is always studying,” says Sanghavi.

Gaining acceptance from younger students

For any mature student, the age difference can be a source of anxiety, but Sanghavi is finding younger students are surprisingly accepting and interested in learning from her work experience. She held various roles for a large insurance company before becoming an elementary school teacher. However, some of the younger students have different priorities than she does.

“They’re trying to teach me about how to impress boys,” she says, laughing.

Preparing for the big move

Once their visas are approved, Sanghavi and Desai plan to come to Kamloops, which will be their first time in Canada. They’ll be joined by Sanghavi’s sister, who will be studying tourism at TRU. Desai says she’s looking forward to exploring the outdoors and has already signed up for the TRU AdventureU Outdoor Club. Sanghavi plans to join clubs and try out co-op and other employment opportunities in the community.

Sanghavi will miss her support system in Mumbai, but she’s excited about taking another important step toward a major life goal.

“Age is not a restriction. If you have a dream, go for it,” she says.

TRU expert advises Senate on mental health, job loss

Canada needs to expand mental health services and make them more available to underserved communities, Dr. Ehsan Latif told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health recently.

Latif, an economics faculty member and the interim associate dean in the School of Business and Economics, is a leading expert in health impacts, or indirect costs, of unemployment. He was invited to speak to the Standing Committee on Health to share findings from his research, which could inform policy decisions around the response to the mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic.

With the pandemic driving the unemployment rate to 9.4 percent as of January 2021, and a further 18.4 percent underemployed (working fewer hours or unable to find work), there is a risk of increasing alcohol consumption, smoking, drug abuse, obesity and depression.

People take job losses personally

Work is an important part of our identities and losing a job can hurt more than just your bank account. In one study on the mental health impacts to Canadians from the Great Recession (2007-2009), Latif found mental health declined during the recession and remained low even after it ended. While the economy may bounce back, mental health may not.          

Especially among men, Latif found people who are unemployed are more likely to consume more alcohol and smoke more cigarettes. The unemployment rate also correlates to severe obesity.

Mental health services access lacking

A national health survey conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association in partnership with UBC researchers found that while 40 percent of Canadians are experienced a deterioration in mental health since March 2020, the rate is much higher among visible minorities, people who are unemployed, have a pre-existing mental health issue, are between the ages of 18 to 24, are Indigenous, identify as LGBTQ2+ or have a disability. Women also report lower mental health than men.

With so much moving online during the pandemic, many people may not have access to, or the skills to use, digital services. As a result, many people can’t get access to virtual mental health services.

As the second wave of the pandemic pushes more businesses to close, increasing unemployment, policy makers are urged to consider affordable mental health options that reach more vulnerable populations. Mental health problems will continue even after COVID-19 is gone. Thus, it is important to provide broader, publicly funded mental health services.

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