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Doctor creates scholarship to honour of parents

I don’t have children but I imagine that it would be great to have a child who wanted to study medicine. Perhaps biased by my own passion for the topic, I always thought such news could only fuel parental pride. But according to local physician Margot Harvey, the choice to study medicine is often a difficult one.

“It’s scary to tell your parents you want to go to medical school,” she said. “You realise the long-term burden it will place on them financially. It’s a big deal when they say they are going to support you because it’s a minimum of nine years.”

She said her parents supported her throughout her journey. Her father Robert worked for Belco for 47 years before he retired, while her mother Margot was a nurse in the Extended Care Unit for more than 40 years.

Dr Harvey, a family practitioner at Island Health Services, studied at the University of Manchester in England. She had no scholarships and at the time Bermudians were not eligible for the reduced rate afforded to British students. Not only did she not get home student fees, the exchange rate was more than two to one.

“My parents supported me fully and I know it wasn’t easy. They worked overtime and did everything they could to make sure I was comfortable. I’m where I am today because of their encouragement and emotional support,” she said.

Dr Harvey said her parents continued to save to help other students long after she’d completed her own studies.

“Any little bit they could spare, they would use it to aid others with their studies,” she said.

Their commitment to helping others was in part a result of her father not having a high school education.

“My dad didn’t finish primary school,” said Dr Harvey. “He instilled in me that getting an education and a piece of paper saying you can do something was a necessity. Just a piece of paper saying you have a skill — it didn’t matter what it was. It could be to pick up trash so that the paper would say you know the correct way to pick up trash.”

Supported by her parents through her studies and inspired by their commitment to her and to other students, Dr Harvey said she is compelled to follow their example.

She said she has been helping students in the healthcare field with tuition costs for a number of years.

It was only after she was approached by doctor Alisha Gabriel on the need for scholarships specifically for medical students, that Dr Harvey agreed to reveal what she had been doing.

“It highlights the need and I hope will also motivate others to give,” she said.

She named her award The Robert and Margot Harvey Scholarship, in her parents’ honour.

Medical student Aisha Bassett (see story on this page) was the first recipient of the award. A third-year student at the University of East Anglia in Britain, she said gaining the scholarship in September was a Godsend. Until she got it, she did not know how she would have been able to pay her tuition this year.

Dr Harvey was not aware of the dire situation Ms Bassett was in when she awarded her the scholarship.

“The Lord is awesome for guiding both our paths,” she said. “Now Aisha can just focus on her studies and not have to worry about where the next fees are coming from. She does not have to stop her education.

“Nothing is more heartbreaking than when you know you can do it, you have the drive, the determination and the willpower but the money is not available.

“I hope this article encourages others to give,” she said. “You never know what a family is going through to sustain their child. Many people think they can’t help because they know medical school costs thousands of dollars and they don’t have thousands of dollars, but know that even your small donation can help. When added to somebody else’s donation it can make a significant difference.”

Photo by Henry Thomas The joy of giving: Dr Margot Harvey shakes hands with medical student Aisha Bassett, the first recipient of the Robert and Margot Harvey scholarship. Dr Harvey named the scholarship after her parents who are now retired

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Published January 15, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm)

Doctor creates scholarship to honour of parents

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