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Penticton philanthropists help create $50K bursary for health care students

The Thorpes also give out scholarships for students to attend Okanagan College
Yasmin and Rick Thorpe, as well as the Penny Lane Legacy Fund presenting a $50,000 cheque to Okanagan College. From left to right: Bruce Hallquist, board member, Penny Lane Legacy Fund; Orv Robson, chairman, Penny Lane Legacy Fund; Alison Gibson, regional dean, Okanagan College; Helen Jackman, executive director, Okanagan College Foundation; Yasmin John Thorpe; Rick Thorpe. (Contributed)

Building the health care workforce across the South Okanagan and Similkameen is a critical priority which inspired Penticton philanthropists to act.

In partnership with Summerland’s Penny Lane Legacy Fund, Yasmin and Rick Thorpe have created a $50,000 bursary fund for health care students who reside across the region.

The Caring for Health Care Students Fund will provide $750 to $1,750 in awards for eligible students studying for a practical nursing diploma and health care assistant diploma programs at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.

“We know if we educate health care professionals in Penticton, there’s a good chance they’ll stay and work in the region,” said Yasmin 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, made possible through a contribution from the Thorpes and investment from the Penny Lane Legacy Fund, will offer six bursaries annually.

“Health care is a personal issue for everyone,” said Orv Robson, chairman of the Penny Lane Legacy Fund. “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.

“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 Penticton campus, there are a number of health care programs being offered including care aides and becoming a licensed practical nurse.

“The college has a vital role to play in educating the next generation of front-line health care professionals,” said former MLA Rick Thorpe. “But we need to see more investment. Community philanthropy alone can’t solve this. The labour shortage is critical and the future wellbeing of our community is at risk. We need all partners to come together to look for innovative solutions.”

For more than six bursaries to be awarded annually, the Okanagan College Foundation is asking for community support to help build the fund. To help contribute to this bursary go to

Not only did the Thorpes create a bursary for health care students at Okanagan College but they have also been creating scholarships for graduating high school students wanting to attend Okanagan College.

In 2022, Wylie Rowan and Mattias Van Bergeyk were the recipients of the Thorpe and Friends Scholarship, which has gone to 76 students over the last 15 years.

Both Rowan and Van Bergeyk are now in their second year of studies at Okanagan College.

“Without this financial support, I would have had to leave school and find a job,” said Rowan.

The scholarship was created in 2006 by the Thorpes along with their friends, and so far have contributed more than $160,000.

Rowan said he’s grateful to the Thorpes for helping him pursue his passion — kinesiology.

The Thorpes stated their ongoing commitment to helping students in need is borne out of a desire to give back to their community.

“I was raised in a humble family that always found a way to help people, and so was Yasmin. The importance of giving back was instilled in us from a young age,” said Rick Thorpe.

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About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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