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Giving back

Physician creates bursaries to honour supporters and to support students

Campus and Community

By Terri Coles

For Dr. Imran Hack (B.Sc.’74, MD’79), giving back to Memorial is a way to repay the kindness he received as a student and a newcomer to Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I met kindness everywhere, but some individuals and families stand out to me,” said Dr. Hack, who is an internal medicine physician at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow, N.S. “I directed these bursaries to honour those who were particularly benevolent.”

From left, Dr. Margaret Steele, Dr. Imran Hack, Dianne Hack and Dr. Mark Berry stand masked in front of artwork
From left are Dr. Margaret Steele, Dr. Imran Hack, Dianne Hack and Dr. Mark Berry.
Photo: Jennifer Armstrong

His three most recent contributions were established in the fall of 2021 by Dr. Hack and his wife, Dianne Hack.

The Jim and Hilda O’Reilly of Bishop’s Falls Memorial Bursary in Medical Education annually funds one student in each of the four years of medical training.

The Jack and Gladys Smith of Bishop’s Cove Memorial Bursary in Biochemistry annually supports an undergraduate student in the Department of Biochemistry.

The Dr. Imran Hack Bursary annually supports another student in the Department of Biochemistry.

Last year, Dr. Hack and his wife also funded the Dr. Imran Hack Undergraduate Medicine Award.

Annually, the bursary provides needed financial assistance to one student in each year of the doctor of medicine program who graduated from a Newfoundland and Labrador high school.

‘A very kind man’

Dr. Hack arrived to St. John’s and Memorial from Guyana in 1970 as an international student.

“I’ve always known, as strange as this may sound, from a very young age that I wanted to do medicine,” he said.

Dr. Hack spent a decade in the province, first completing a degree in biochemistry and working with Dr. Kevin Keough as a research assistant. He then applied to medical school in 1975 as a Canadian landed immigrant.

“I came to Canada with $750, $500 of which went towards my tuition.” — Dr. Imran Hack

He completed his internship in St. John’s and, following two years of family practice, completed his residency in internal medicine at Dalhousie University in 1986.

“The first bursary I set up at Memorial’s medical school was the Dr. Kevin Keough Bursary because I always want him to be remembered,” said Dr. Hack of his former professor.

The bursary is awarded annually to a student with financial need in the doctor of medicine program.

As a new Canadian and full-time student, money was often tight.

“I came to Canada with $750, $500 of which went towards my tuition. I had to work, sometimes, several jobs through my university years to get by.”

There were several times that Dr. Keough paid him in advance for lab work to help him stay afloat financially, he said.

“He is a very kind man,” said Dr. Hack.

Meeting kindness

In addition to Dr. Keough, Dr. Hack created bursaries to honour local families who helped him along the way while he was a student at Memorial.

In the Department of Biochemistry, he created a bursary in the name of Jack and Gladys Smith, whose son is Dr. Randy Smith, at whose home he spent much time.

“I was like the rest of the family. I was most amazed by that.” — Dr. Imran Hack

Another bursary honours the parents of Dr. Alan O’Reilly, a man he met on his first day of classes and with whom he remains a close friend.

“In 1970, Alan invited me to his home in Bishop Falls for Christmas, where his parents treated me like a son,” Dr. Hack said of the O’Reillys. “I was like the rest of the family. I was most amazed by that.”

During his time at Memorial, the O’Reillys continued to support Dr. Hack in various ways.

He remembers heading to Toronto to work for the summer at the end of the academic year, having just enough money for a standby flight until he started a job and received a paycheque.

The O’Reillys not only gave him a ride to catch his flight in Gander, but some money to get by on until he started working.

“That’s an example of the kindness I was met with in Newfoundland.”

Chance to give back

Dr. Hack built a successful medical career in Nova Scotia, but has never forgot his time in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“My parents taught me to be hardworking, and to persevere.” — Dr. Imran Hack

The opportunity to attend Memorial’s medical school is still not lost on him, he says, given that any number of local students could have easily had his spot.

“I want to acknowledge that,” he said. “I was given a rare opportunity and I wanted to give back to this province and university.”

Dr. Hack plans to return to Newfoundland and Labrador for his 45-year reunion in 2024.

Sometime before that visit, he plans to make his next donation to Memorial in memory of his parents, Fatima and Esau Hack.

“My parents taught me to be hardworking, and to persevere,” he said. “To never give up, just keep going.”

He hopes that by receiving a bursary he funded, Memorial University students will find it easier to persevere, too.

“Frankly, I don’t even care if the recipients think about me, the person who set it up,” said Dr. Hack. “What’s important to me is that they think, ‘Hey, I’ve got $1,000, now I can go buy some food and concentrate on my studies.’”

To learn more about giving to Memorial University, or to make a donation today, please visit our Office of Development website.

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