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Meaningful mentorship

Ten Thousand Coffees platform connects students with alumni

By Heidi Wicks

A Memorial triple alumna and Rhodes Scholar compared her recent experience with Ten Thousand Coffees to a MasterCard advertisement.

“Priceless,” said Dr. Ann Colbourne (B.Sc.’80, B.Med.Sc.’85, MD’87), who noticed the mentorship opportunity in an Memorial alumni email she received last December.

“My desire for meaningful and impactful engagement and to make a difference, and with a new year on the horizon, I wanted to take on something new.”

Through Ten Thousand Coffees, Dr. Colbourne matched with Theresa Vo, a student in the master of science (medicine) degree program at Memorial.

Theresa Vo
Photo: Submitted

“We discussed our common interests in medicine, research, academia, graduate studies and mentorship, as well as PhD programs, interviewing skills, Atlantic Canada, Vietnam, the pandemic, weather, vaccinations, health policy, oncology programs – the list goes on,” Dr. Colbourne said.

“I found her origin story, her family, goals and aspirations, and discovering what is meaningful to Theresa, as well as talking about her next steps after she graduates from Memorial, so rewarding.”

“[Dr. Colbourne] suggested that I think about the culture of the province I was thinking about applying to do my PhD in.” — Theresa Vo

Ms. Vo says she initially joined Ten Thousand Coffees because she wanted to make connections to move her career forward.

After she met with Dr. Colbourne, she realized meaningful conversations can reveal a lot more.

“I really admire Dr. Colbourne because she is so knowledgeable about health-care research,” she said.

“Whatever we talked about, she always gave me some situations that made me think critically. I was really impressed when she suggested that I think about the culture of the province I was thinking about applying to do my PhD in. That is something I didn’t think about, but it is a helpful thing to do in preparation for the admission interview.”

Paying it forward

Dr. Colbourne’s father, the late Alexander T. (Sandy) Colbourne, established the Colbourne Family Scholarship several years ago; Dr. Colbourne matched her father’s gift to the scholarship endowment.

Clearly, the family understands the value of a great education and strong mentors. Dr. Colbourne says she remembers the educators who positively influenced her and wants to pay it forward.

She remembers her organic chemistry professor, Dr. Eric Bullock, in particular. He encouraged her to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship,” she said.

“He knew I could do it, and he believed in me. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at that time. And, my experience at Memorial gave me confidence. It became the launching pad for everything else that came afterward, and it led me to places that I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would go. If I can give any of that to other students, it would be very satisfying.”

The next meet up for Ten Thousand Coffees is April 29. Join here!

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