The Walter Gage “Pay It Forward” Scholarship at John Oliver High School

$5,000 annual scholarship sponsored by Jim McEwen and Family

This scholarship honours Walter Gage, a graduate of John Oliver Secondary School in 1921.   He grew up at 5871 Argyle Street in South Vancouver and was a student at nearby Tecumseh Elementary School. As the child of recent immigrants to Canada, Walter Gage benefitted from the efforts of dedicated teachers at these public schools, got an excellent education, and became the first in his family to go to university.  He went on to become a professor of mathematics, a master teacher, the ‘dean of everything’ at UBC for many years, a Companion of the Order of Canada, and the much-loved president of UBC during a crucial period. He was an unforgettable and positive influence for thousands of students at UBC.  He had an uncanny ability to recognize students who were in need of help in order to overcome adversities they faced, and he generously and selflessly provided that help and encouragement to students for over 50 years, at just the right time and in just the right way. Most of those students went on to achieve their potential, and to contribute their best to their families, professions, communities and society.  Those students were his family and his legacy.

I was lucky to be one of Walter Gage’s students.  I also began my education at Tecumseh Elementary School and later was fortunate to have Walter Gage as my math professor.  I was profoundly impressed by this enigmatic professor’s ability to brilliantly simplify seemingly complex topics, and was even more deeply influenced by seeing his professor’s constant efforts to do what he could to help students and others succeed.  I was one of those fortunate students, receiving an unexpected series of scholarships and bursaries from Walter Gage when he was dean of student affairs, enabling me to overcome financial obstacles and successfully complete my BASc and PhD degrees at UBC.  1971-jim-receives-basc-from-pres-gage
In fact, Walter Gage presented me with my diploma upon graduation, and continued to be my role model for years, presiding over the UBC Senate when I served as student Senator, and paving the way for me to become an Officer of the Order of Canada, thanks in part to lessons learned from him.

With this Scholarship at John Oliver Secondary School, I and my family seek to recognize each year the John Oliver graduate who best exemplifies Walter Gage’s best qualities: achievement of educational excellence; sustained efforts to recognize others in need, and to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their potential in life; and a selfless determination to always try to find new ways to help make the world a better place.  We ask all applicants for this Scholarship to become familiar with the exemplary life of an earlier John Oliver graduate, with information to be provided through the school.

We also ask each recipient of this Scholarship to consider what Walter Gage asked of his students:  If this Scholarship helps you succeed, and if your circumstances permit in future, please consider finding a way that you can ‘pay it forward’ by helping other students in future.