Drs. Beverly (BSc ’03) and Tracy Burton (BSc ’03), both physicians practising in Pincher Creek, Alberta, are passionate about science and rural medicine, and they aim to encourage young people with similar passions. 

Together with their mother Christine Burton (BEd ’74, Diploma in Education ’78), a retired science teacher, they’ve created the Burton Family Bursary for Women in STEM to encourage young women to explore STEM fields, particularly students who intend to pursue a career in health or medicine. 

In addition to the Burton Family Bursary, Tracy and Beverly along with their fellow physicians at the Associate Clinic have established the Pincher Creek and Piikani Health and Medical Scholarship for a continuing ULethbridge undergraduate student from Pincher Creek or the Piikani Nation in any degree program but intending to pursue a career in a health or medical field. 

Both awards have been matched by the ULethbridge Board of Governors and will double in impact. 

For the Burton family, establishing the scholarship programs is a way to invest in women and their community. 

“It’s important we give women the opportunity,” says Christine. “Not everybody has the funding, and we don’t want that to be the barrier for someone to be able to go into the sciences, to find their passion and make a difference in the world and themselves.”

From the Associate Clinic’s perspective, establishing the scholarship inspires and supports the next generation in the medical field.

“We hope that people from this area will decide to go into a medical field, whether that’s as a physician, a nurse or an allied health professional, and then say they want to come back to the community that supported them and give back and be role models for people in the community,” says Tracy.

Beverly and Tracy are involved in Girl Guides, as was their mother Christine before them, and they organize STEM nights two or three times a year for Sparks, a group of five- to eight-year-olds. 

“My mom, sister and I all have our degrees in science,” says Tracy. “We very much encourage science and women are very much under-represented in science. Often, women don’t think they can do it and this scholarship can help them achieve their goals.” 

“I think it’s important for girls to see what women can do,” says Beverly, who’s also a member of the ULethbridge Board of Governors. “Then they can say, ‘OK, if they can do it, I can do it.’ We’ve been practising for more than 15 years, so some of the ones we’ve seen since they were little are now going to university. They say, ‘I want to be a nurse or a doctor and you helped put me in that direction.’”

The Associate Clinic has established the Pincher Creek and Piikani Health and Medical Scholarship.

Growing up, Tracy and Beverly looked up to their mother, so studying sciences at the post-secondary level was a natural choice. Both have fond memories of their time at ULethbridge. 

“What inspired me to become a doctor is I wanted to help people,” says Beverly. “I wasn’t quite sure when I started university what that looked like. I was fortunate enough as an undergraduate to work in a lab in genetics and I thought this might be what I want to do. Then I started thinking about becoming a doctor.”

“I liked the small class sizes,” says Tracy. “You got to know the people and we could all work together. You got to know the professor and they got to know you. The co-op program was amazing, too.”

Because of her love of working with children, Tracy initially aspired to become a pediatrician. Then she found family medicine allowed her to look after children, as well as the rest of the family. 

Practising medicine in a rural area has some unique features. The patients who come to the clinic may well be neighbours or friends and the connections they build with the community enable them to get to know their patients and families. 

“You’re there for the best part of their lives and the worst part of their lives,” says Tracy. “We do what’s called cradle-grave medicine where we do everything from, until recently, delivering the babies to providing palliative care. That’s a unique connection we can make here that we wouldn’t get to make in a lot of other places.”

Being there for their community is a value the Burton family holds close to their hearts.

“It’s always been important for Bev, Tracy and I to give back,” says Christine. “Establishing the scholarships is a way of giving back to our community for enhancing our lives and making a difference to each of us.”

Together, we inspire leaders, innovators, thinkers and doers.

Learn more about giving at ULethbridge and the Board of Governors’ $10 million pledge to match funds for the establishment of endowed student scholarships.

Read the 2022-2023 Donor Impact Report