Health care students in the South Okanagan Similkameen are about to breathe a sigh of relief thanks to a new bursary fund

By College Relations | February 23, 2023

Caring for Health Care Students Fund
Bruce Hallquist, Orv Robson, Alison Gibson, Helen Jackman, Yasmin John Thorpe, Rick Thorpe

Local philanthropists Yasmin and Rick Thorpe have partnered with Summerland’s Penny Lane Legacy Fund to create a $50,000 bursary fund to help bolster the future of health care in the South Okanagan Similkameen. The Caring for Health Care Students Fund will provide $750 - $1,750 awards for eligible students studying at Okanagan College’s Penticton Campus. 

“We know if we educate healthcare professionals in Penticton, there’s a good chance they’ll stay and work in the region,” says Yasmin John Thorpe. “We want to help increase the number of health care staff throughout the South Okanagan Similkameen to help ease current pressures in the system.

The Fund is an expansion of the Thorpe and Friends Scholarship Fund and will offer six bursaries annually to students in Okanagan College’s Practical Nursing Diploma and Health Care Assistant Diploma programs. Students who reside in Penticton, Summerland and elsewhere in the South Okanagan Similkameen are eligible to apply.

The Fund is made possible through a generous contribution from the Thorpes, and an investment from the Penny Lane Legacy Fund.

The Thorpes say that when the idea for the Caring for Health Care Students Fund came to them, their first calls were to Bruce Hallquist and Orv Robson because the pair have supported the community of Summerland for decades through their Penny Lane Legacy Fund.

“Health care is a personal issue for everyone. My wife needs medical support on a regular basis, and though we’ve received great care, we also see the strain the system is under,” says Orv Robson, chairman of the Penny Lane Legacy Fund.” It’s important for my family and society as a whole to have a functioning health care system to care for our community's most vulnerable,”  

“At the moment, there is no greater community need than health care. If we don’t have practical nurses and health care assistants, then the system breaks down, and the community suffers,” adds Bruce Hallquist, board member of the Penny Lane Legacy Fund.

Okanagan College Foundation is requesting community support to help build the Fund so that more bursaries can be distributed to the region’s next generation of frontline care professionals. To contribute, please visit

“The generosity of Yasmin and Rick Thorpe and the Penny Lane Legacy Fund will have a significant impact on the future of health care in the South Okanagan Similkameen,” says Helen Jackman, executive director of Okanagan College Foundation. “Their leadership and investment will help address the critical staffing shortages and provide the next generation of practical nurses and health care aids with the support they need to succeed.”

Tags: OC Foundation, Penticton, Health and Social Development, Practical Nursing, Health Care Assistant



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