A ripple effect

Laura McDonnell in a science laboratory

For MD/PhD student Laura McDonell, the Audrey J. Boyce Scholarship provides not only some valuable financial aid but also a source of inspiration.

Laura McDonell’s voice falters a little. The Audrey J. Boyce Scholarship has struck a chord with her.

And not just because the average debt for a medical student on graduation can easily exceed $160,000.

McDonell is registered in the MD/PhD program, which is sort of the “Ironman” of university programs: medical training coupled with a PhD, both completed in seven years. The program is so demanding that only a few exceptionally gifted students are accepted each year.

“The MD/PhD program is pushing the boundaries of science, but also pushing the boundaries of clinical medicine and patient management,” says McDonell, whose work involves identifying the genetic causes of rare children’s diseases as part of the CHEO Research Institute’s Care for Rare project.

Audrey Boyce, whose generosity was behind the scholarship—which will help many students like McDonell, in both medicine and law—pushed back the frontiers of philanthropy on her own, saving enough to leave the University of Ottawa one of the largest bequests in its history… all on a personal secretary’s salary. Now that’s defying the conventional!

Boyce was neither an alumna nor an employee of the University, but a dedicated civil servant who spent her entire life in Ottawa and firmly believed in the power of education.

Boyce’s wish that her donation have a “ripple effect” on many generations of students has truly moved McDonell. She is very determined to fulfill it.

“Selfless people like Audrey Boyce, whose motivation was to help students, make you want to work harder and just channel their energy so that their work continues through you,” she says. “I hope to one day transfer my love of molecular genetics and pathology to my patients, my students and my academic field and, as such, continue the ripple.”

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