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Giving Day 2017

Submitted by melanie.tibbetts on Thu, 04/13/2017 - 3:46pm

Investing in the next generation of medical leaders

Thanks to the generosity of our community, the inaugural UCalgary Giving Day was a huge success! Our goal was to create 50 new student scholarships in 50 hours. That was far surpassed – 170 scholarships, including the creation of 120 new awards. More than 1,200 donors contributed more than $1 million. As a result, more students will be able to access support and immerse themselves in the University of Calgary’s culture. More 


Support through student scholarships

Scholarships change the lives of countless students at the Cumming School of Medicine. Click below to read about some of the ways our community is helping us create the medical leaders of tomorrow. 

Award named for pillar of Cumming School community

Adele Meyers

Award named for pillar of Cumming School community

Dr. Benjamin Goldstein first met Adele Meyers in the late 1990s, while visiting the University of Calgary before applying to its medical school.

“I was a stretch of an applicant,” he recalls. But the school’s longtime coordinator of admissions and student affairs greeted him with her renowned warmth, openness and kindness—traits that, he would soon learn, had touched and changed the lives of thousands of students over the course of her career.

Now an associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, as well as director of the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Goldstein recalls the discombobulating experience of entering medical school. For many students, this involves leaving home for the first time and facing a workload and academic challenges like none they’ve ever encountered.

Meyers offered each of them unfailing support, guidance and even friendship. She was a confidante, an advisor and a “den mother” to no fewer than 4,300 students throughout her 40-year career.

Maybe the biggest testament to the impact she has had on so many students — a sign her spirit will live on at the school and with the medical professionals of the future — is the creation of the Adele Meyers Award upon her retirement in 2016.

The Cumming School of Medicine held a celebration in her honour, which several hundred current and former students (her “chickens,” as she called them) attended. Over the course of the night, they raised $75,000 for the Adele Meyers Award, a new scholarship for second- or third-year medical students.

Recipients must exemplify Meyers’s values: kindness, compassion and enthusiasm for their classmates.

One of the best examples of Meyers’s famous dedication comes from Dr. Lanette Prediger, now an emergency room physician. In her second year of medical school, Prediger was diagnosed with lymphoma and turned to Meyers for help. The admissions coordinator became her cheerleader, mother-figure and friend. And when Prediger began her chemotherapy treatments, Meyers shaved her own head in solidarity.

“She was ahead of her time,” says Goldstein. “These days, wellness and self-care are present in the workplace and in schools, but they weren’t back then. She brought a unique perspective: that a med student is also a person.”


Student scholarships, like the Adele Meyers Award and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy - not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

Award honours rural doctor with great heart

Jennifer Wickson and daughter Olivia Wickson Meyers spend some time with Charlotte Breakey — the most recent recipient of the Robert Wickson Memorial Award.

Award honours rural doctor with great heart

Jennifer Wickson remembers her father, the late Dr. Robert Wickson, as a man who took care of everyone.

“He didn’t care what your background was, what your skin colour was. He treated everyone the same,” she says. “He never turned away anyone.”

Jennifer says her father’s generosity and dedication earned him a loyal following, based on the years she spent answering phones at his clinic in Gleichen, a rural community southeast of Calgary. She recalls patients even showing up at the family’s home for treatment.

After her father’s sudden passing in 2010, several of his patients told Jennifer that they simply didn’t know what they would do without his thoughtful care; no other doctor could replace him.

Born in Banff, Dr. Wickson was drawn to rural communities where he could play an integral role in the community. When he moved his family to Gleichen, no clinics existed in the area. Dr. Wickson not only established a clinic, but helped encourage other professionals to set up shop in town: a physiotherapist, eye doctor, and others to help treat the community. He even set up a lab, which was particularly important for his many patients from the nearby Siksika Nation, who didn’t always have the means to travel to a hospital for blood work.

After Dr. Wickson’s passing, his family established the Robert Wickson Memorial Award in his honour. The award helps lessen the financial burdens of students who, like him, are passionate about rural medicine.

“My dad would never have made it through med school if other people hadn’t created bursaries and scholarships,” Wickson says. “His family didn’t have money to send him. [Without financial support,] he wouldn’t have become a doctor.”

“He also loved to teach,” she adds, recalling his role as a professor of rural family medicine and pharmacology at the Cumming School of Medicine. “So this is our family’s way of helping students in some way because he can’t anymore.”

Jennifer recently had the opportunity to meet Charlotte Breakey, who received the Wickson Award in July 2016, shortly after starting her final year of medical school. At the time, Breakey was doing her clerkship in the Crowsnest Pass, a small community in Southern Alberta. Recently, she lined up a family medicine residency in Nanaimo, B.C., where she’ll train to be a rural general practitioner.

Like Dr. Wickson, Breakey is drawn to rural life, and in particular to the kind of medicine one can practice in such a setting.

“Rural doctors can get to know each patient and their family, and have a greater positive impact on their health,” says Breakey. ”It’s the best example of continuity of care you can get in medicine.”

Breakey says receiving the award was a huge honour, and the opportunity to hear Jennifer Wickson’s stories about her father’s life and practice only reinforced her desire to practice rural medicine and make a positive impact on communities in need.


Student scholarships, like the Robert Wickson Memorial Award and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

Honouring a “once in a lifetime” researcher, husband, and friend

Brett Kilb

Honouring a “once in a lifetime” researcher, husband, and friend

“Once in a lifetime, you meet someone like Brett,” says Dr. Arun Anand, who met Brett Kilb on his first day at the Cumming School of Medicine in 2009 and instantly knew they’d be best friends for life.

“I’ve never met someone like that in my life. And I know I never will again.”

Brett’s family, friends and former colleagues all echo that sentiment. Brett was a hard-working, staggeringly bright student: a chancellor scholar at the University of Calgary, with degrees in medicine and kinesiology, plus a master’s degree in public health from Harvard. He was also a talented athlete and compassionate friend. Arun recalls being inspired to work harder in school, to push his limits alongside Brett.

“I couldn’t keep up with him,” he admits, “but he never made me feel badly about that.”

Despite Brett’s dedication to his work and the long hours he spent studying and researching, he always made time to talk to his family and counsel his friends. His wife, Jess Kilb, recalls how she and other family members would sometimes hesitate to bother him, but he always encouraged them to call.

“He always put family first,” says Jess, who met Brett while studying kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

Jess was with Brett when he died suddenly at the age of 28, while doing hip replacement research in Barcelona, Spain. His death rocked his family, friends and a medical community that had been watching his star rise. At the time, he was completing his fourth year as an orthopaedic resident at the University of British Columbia, with plans to become a spine surgeon with the Vancouver Spine Surgery Institute.

Jess recalls Brett’s resolve to pursue his research project, which he had conceived and developed himself. Brett aimed to determine whether there was a genetic explanation behind the development of “pseudotumours” following hip replacement surgery — an issue that many hip replacement surgeons deal with. His idea was rejected three times by surgeons and staff, but Brett refused to give up on it.

“Brett liked innovation,” says Jess. “He wanted to create something new, projects that had never been done before. If people weren’t pursuing it, he was going to pursue it.”

Arun, now a resident physician in anaesthesiology at the Ottawa Hospital agrees: “He always asked questions and was not afraid to go and find answers.”

Brett’s research eventually garnered interest from other researchers — so much that he was awarded, posthumously, with the prestigious Frank Stinchfield Award from the Hip Society for the best research received from a resident or a fellow in orthopaedic surgery in North America. Jess accepted it on his behalf in March 2017.

“Brett really, really loved research,” she says. “He inspired a lot of people. So we wanted to create something to carry on that memory, that legacy.”

The Kilb family established the Brett Kilb Memorial Fund, she explains, “to help future medical students achieve their research dreams and help them through their journey — especially those who have research projects they’re passionate about, which will impact other people’s lives.”

Hip replacement researchers will carry on Brett’s work, leading to safer and more effective surgeries. And his legacy will undoubtedly inspire young medical students to live as he did: with integrity, compassion and dedication to work that changes lives.


Student scholarships, like the Brett Kilb Memorial Fund and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

Pigs Unite to support future medical students

Pigs Unite to support future medical students

In 1984, there were the Emus. In 2013, the Aye ayes. In 2017, the Humuhumunukunukuapua'as.

The Cumming School of Medicine has a renowned tradition of assigning each graduating class with an animal name, dating back to 1975 when a frustrated professor called his class “a bunch of turkeys.” The Turkeys welcomed the moniker and went on to name the class behind them the Beavers. The Beavers in turn named the class behind them the Toads. And so it went, with names growing more inventive and exotic (and sometimes less than flattering) as years passed. The class of 2005, for instance, was named after the candirus, a little-known parasitic catfish.

Many past students agree that their animal totem helped unite their class and offered a sense of identity that lasted long after graduation. Such was the case with the 1986 Pigs.

“It was a fun class,” recalls Dr. Nancy Blaney, an ’86 Pig and physician in Banff. “We’ve kept together really well.”

Some of the Pigs meet up regularly to travel, ski, or participate in cycling challenges like the Gran Fondo. And in September 2016, more than half of the 62 class members showed up to celebrate their 30th reunion.

“It was a really good reunion, with really good energy,” says Dr. Blaney. “Many people are now on the brink of retirement, nearing the end of their careers.”

Perhaps it was this feeling of transition, or simply the joy of reconnecting and reliving the trials and triumphs of med school. Whatever it was, it motivated the Pigs to establish a bursary to help a future medical student through their own educational experience. The class set a fundraising goal of $10,000 for the reunion weekend.

They reached it in a single morning. And the Class of 1986 Pigs Bursary was born. The award will support medical students over a five-year period, with a $2,000 annual allocation.

For Dr. Lorraine Hosford, also an ‘86 Pig, this brought to mind an old class tradition: how each student took a turn taking detailed notes in class, then distributing them (in a pre-email age) to everyone else. This system ensured that those who’d had to miss class wouldn’t fall behind.

“It helped us get to know each other,” Dr. Hosford recalls, noting that it was a unique tradition in an environment that fosters intense competition. “That was part of the class spirit: giving of your time for others.”

That generosity of spirit will live on in the Class of 1986 Pigs Bursary, which will lessen the financial burdens of future med students and inspire other classes to give as well.


Student scholarships, like the Class of 1986 Pigs Bursary and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

Crowfoot Village Family Practice: supporting the doctors of the future

Crowfoot Village Family Practice: supporting the doctors of the future

Right patient, right method, right provider—that’s the motto of the Crowfoot Village Family Practice (CVFP), a unique clinic in Northwest Calgary and one of only two of its kind in the province.

This publically funded clinic uses a patient-based funding model to deliver care. The model was established to alleviate challenges with the fee-for-service funding model, to which most clinics in Alberta subscribe. According to Shauna Wilkinson, Executive Director of the CVFP, the fee-for-service model can result in more frequent visits from patients with multiple issues, which can increase wait times and restrict access to care providers.

The CVFP model provides a “medical home” for patients, delivering comprehensive care for newborn to geriatric patients via a team of onsite physicians, nurses, a dietician, psychologist, pharmacist and many other practitioners. It’s also home to family medicine residents from the Cumming School of Medicine.

Each year, CSM medical students train at the clinic for their family medicine rotation. In 2014, the clinic team decided to increase its support of medical students by establishing the Crowfoot Village Family Practice Bursary, which supports medical students in financial need.

“We believe that CVFP and the medical home model is the future of family medicine,” says Wilkinson. “We want to encourage students to go into family medicine, and we want to engage them around our style of practice.”

But while they prioritize students interested in family medicine, the team is happy to fund students with varied medical interests.

“We wanted to pay it forward,” she says. “We’ve been fortunate; everyone in our clinic does what they love. We want to enable anyone interested in medicine to live like that…We want to make someone’s journey a little easier.”

The bursary has certainly had this effect on its current recipient, Bing Wu. Originally from Calgary, Wu is a self-described “non-traditional med student,” with a background in economics, the federal public service, and consulting. Currently in his third year of medical school, he is leaning toward specializing in psychiatry, though he won’t know for certain until next year, when he matches with a residency.

“[The CVFP bursary] has definitely taken a lot of stress away financially,” he says. “Med school is very expensive, and between the tuition, living expenses, and going into debt every year, this has meant that I’ve been less dependent on a line of credit.”

He notes that on top of tuition and living expenses, most students pay to travel to different cities for their rotations, in hopes of making themselves known in medical circles outside Calgary. It’s an expensive process, says Wu, and it makes scholarships and bursaries even more crucial.

This summer, Wu will be doing his family medicine rotation at the CVFP, which he ranked highly on his list of preferred locations partly because of his bursary, and partly because of its convenient, urban location.

“I’m appreciative and thankful for the help I’ve received from the clinic,” Wu says, noting he looks forward to thanking the team in person for their generosity.


Student scholarships, like the Crowfoot Village Family Practice and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

A gift that makes a “huge difference” to future physicians

A gift that makes a “huge difference” to future physicians

“Too often I see people waiting until they’re far along in their lives, or even dead, before they give back to an institution that has impacted their lives in a significant way,” says Dr. Janice Heard, community paediatrician and a clinical assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine.

She and her husband, R. Bruce McFarlane, decided to take a different tact, establishing the Dr. Janice C. Heard Bursary while she was in the prime of her career, so that they could witness its impact on medical students.

Dr. Heard is renowned for both her work and her spirit of giving. She practiced paediatrics at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Rockyview General Hospital, works with the Calgary Urban Project Society-One World Child Development Centre as a consulting paediatrician, and assesses children’s health in schools and foster care. She also worked with Healthy Child Uganda and helped found the Laos Community Development Initiative. In 2016, she received the Order of the University of Calgary, which honours individuals who have provided significant and distinguished service to the institution.

Dr. Heard says that her philanthropic spirit is “a family affair.” Her husband is the current chair of the Board of Calgary United Way, and her mother, Lois Haskayne, and husband Richard, are well-known supporters of arts and education in Calgary.

“We have so many amazing opportunities in this town,” she says. “We are really privileged. We need to give back to our schools, the arts community, and to sports, because we all benefit from them.”

Her primary goal for the Dr. Janice C. Heard Bursary, which is awarded annually to an undergraduate student entering first year of medical school, and renewable for a second year, is to lessen the early financial burden of a future physician.

“Although we have pretty low tuition compared to medical schools in the U.S., it’s still a big chunk of money,” Dr. Heard says. “There’s very little chance that anyone in medical school can work a side job. In order to not go into huge debt, it’s nice for students to get some help along the way. It makes a real difference to them.”

It has indeed made a difference for its latest recipient, Katie de Champlain. Currently in her second year of medical school, de Champlain balances the multiple demands medical school with the challenges of being a mother; her son is now 20 months old.

The bursary, she says, is particularly significant for a parent of a young child.

“Medical school is very expensive, but add a child on top of that, and you have a huge extra expense,” she says. “I knew that going into medicine would make me happier and a better parent, but financially, it’s stressful. The bursary has definitely helped reduce that burden.”

Originally from Victoria, B.C, de Champlain worked in audiology for five years before entering medical school, and she hopes to specialize in otolaryngology. Like Dr. Heard, she has spent time in Uganda, where she worked with a team of otolaryngologists to help educate and improve the care of hearing needs in rural communities.

She notes one more similarity between herself and Dr. Heard: as a mother of three, Dr. Heard has advocated for women in medicine wanting to balance a career with family life.

“This really speaks to me,” says de Champlain. “It's wonderful that her support has ended up in the hands of a mother in medical school.”


Student scholarships, like the Dr. Janice C. Heard Bursary and those that have been established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.