Robert “Bob” Morris established the “Morris Bursary Fund for Excellence in Mathematics” with the Shuswap Community Foundation in 2008. The income from that fund will provide a bursary to a female student graduating from Salmon Arm Senior Secondary School who has demonstrated excellence in mathematics and who intends to pursue post-secondary studies in mathematics or a related field.
Bob has lived in Salmon Arm for seven years after retiring from the Canadian Navy. An avid reader, he recalled studying a poll conducted in the United States where, of some 1,100 students, only 11 planned to take further studies in the field of mathematics. “Some of the best jobs in North America require mathematics yet only 11 of 1,100 took math,” he exclaims.
He also noted that in areas, such as Salmon Arm, there is often an emphasis on sports, an abundance of good coaches and opportunities for male students to obtain scholarships. He feels there is not the same advantage for young women to obtain scholarships and adds that there are careers, that require foundations in math, for women in: physics, computer science, and nursing to name a few.
“I had the opportunity to contribute and to level the playing field,” he smiles.
Bob says he feels he is contributing something to the community with this bursary. “I have an interest in the next generation. I don’t have children, yet I’m conscious of leaving a useful legacy.”
As a person who knows and acknowledges the value and power of education, Robert Morris decided that a bursary would be the best way he could make a difference in his community. A Salmon Arm resident since 2000, Robert Morris is a deep thinker and an avid reader who says his library card is his most valued possession.
In trying to decide what type of bursary to create Robert researched the challenges faced by modern post secondary students. Through research Robert found that society had often directed girls into particular roles, thereby limiting what they might consider for careers. Knowing that the skills and abilities that a person develops are not limited by their sex but are often a combination of natural abilities, environment, and opportunity, he decided to create a bursary specifically for girls in high school. Girls are uniquely challenged in their career choices; it was not yet common place for girls to aspire to be engineers and be in male dominated classes. Robert wanted his bursary to have an added advantage in smashing the glass ceiling, and what better place to start but in high school? So the “Morris Bursary Fund for Excellence in Mathematics” was born in 2008.
You may ask why Mathematics? Well, as a subject that opens the doors to careers in highly technological fields, excelling in Mathematics affords students the advantage of pursuing studies that are on the cutting edge of human advancement. Critical thinking, problem solving, analytical thinking, the ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, and quantitative reasoning are just a few of the many career-advancing skills that are developed through the study of Mathematics. They are precisely the skills increasingly required for the modern employee.
Shuswap Community Foundation was entrusted to create and manage the “Morris Bursary Fund for Excellence in Mathematics” because of its deep roots in the Shuswap and its commitment to connecting people who care with causes that matter.
The following young ladies have been the recipients of the “Morris Bursary Fund for Excellence in Mathematics” to date:
- 2010 Hayley Petznick
- 2011 Melanie Spottock
- 2012 Taylor Bahen
- 2013 Lucy Grainger
- 2014 Maria Guenter
- 2015 Kiana Hampton
- 2016 Faye Lucey
- 2017 Katie Jensen
The 2018 recipient, Alexandra Landy, embodies and personifies the young woman of the 21st Century: taught that she can be whatever she chooses, encouraged to give back to her community, empowered to think big picture, and to look beyond her personal needs. A well rounded young lady and diligent student who makes time to volunteer, Alexandra envisions a career that will enable her to further human advancements and leave a lasting impact. Equipped with a curious and open mind, Alexandra’s love of Mathematics was evident in grade 7 when she became bored and decided to memorize the digits of Pi to pass the time in class. Enrollment in an accelerated program provided Alexandra with the challenge and stimulation that she craved, allowing her to excel.
Alexandra is grateful for the guidance provided by the teachers at Salmon Arm Secondary. Participating in volunteer work abroad in Rural China and Ecuador with the school district exposed Alexandra to the inequities in our world and has sparked her interest in addressing some of those through her career. Being part of the inaugural Salmon Arm Youth Council and Politics class in grade 12, Alexandra attended UBCM, and the Forum for Young Canadians, furthering her understanding of the role of being a global citizen who contributes to their community, country, and world.
Alexandra is enrolled in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo and is pursuing her goal of finding solutions to the problems of tomorrow. The Shuswap Community Foundation, through the “Morris Bursary Fund for Excellence in Mathematics”, is one of the many ways the Foundation has worked since 1994 to connect people who care with causes that matter. Investing in education has one of the highest return on investment the Foundation could ever make.
On behalf of Alexandra, the Landy family, School District 83 and the Shuswap Community Foundation, thank you to Robert Morris for his very generous gift to the Shuswap Community.