Submitted by Roland Neave
Two Clearwater Secondary School students have won the coveted Charles and Jean Whittaker Memorial Bursaries for 2021.
Abubakar Sharif and Aiden Cairns received $2,000 each and started their post-secondary studies this fall at Thompson Rivers University. The winners of the awards are selected each summer. They must live in the Clearwater area and be planning to enter TRU in September.
Sharif, who is studying computer science, was born in a rural area in Pakistan, but his parents immigrated to Canada when he was three years old, and Clearwater has been his home since then.
“I was not the biggest fan of sports until high school came along,” he said. “I tried to join as many sports as I could get my hands on. Particularly, I remember basketball being my favourite due to its fast-paced action. At one of my first games, our coach said, ‘A team only succeeds together’ and that simple message has stuck with me ever since.”
Cairns was born and raised in Clearwater. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, then plans to open a restaurant and make a living doing what he loves — cooking.
“When I am not at work, I enjoy baking, woodworking and experiencing the beauty of my hometown by hiking its many trails,” he said.
The Whittaker Memorial Bursary Endowment was created in 2017 following a donation of $95,000 by Roland and Anne Neave. Interest from the endowment, managed by the TRU Foundation, provides bursaries each year to two Clearwater Secondary School graduates entering TRU. In 2020, there was only one qualifying student, Emma Collins, who received a $3,325 bursary towards her TRU tuition.
The Charles and Jean Whittaker Endowment was named for Anne’s parents who were both teachers in Nanaimo. The Neaves have also created three other endowments at TRU: Hugh Neave Memorial Scholarships and Bursary for geography students, Dr. Margaret Neave Memorial Bursaries for life skills students, and Wells Gray Tours Scholarships for tourism students.
In most years, there are 14 scholarships and bursaries given to students each fall, totalling over $17,500. TRU’s Education and Research Centre in Upper Clearwater opened earlier this year and serves as a unique facility for many students on field courses in biology, geography, geology, and tourism. The Neaves have supported the development of the centre during many years of planning and donated 160 acres of their Clearwater Valley land in 2014.