Established in 2021 by the Rafi family in honour of their late mother, Fahmida Rafi, who maintained a lifelong passion for science and her two sons. The Fahmida Rafi Bursary will continue Fahmida’s legacy by encouraging other women to fulfill their aspirations to study science. Fahmida’s journey to pursue higher education was one guided by resiliency and perseverance, as Fahmida was initially awarded a scholarship to study science at an American university. Upon arriving on the university campus from her home country of Pakistan, she discovered that her scholarship was inexplicably changed to study home economics, instead of science.
As a young woman with dreams to study science, Fahmida was forced to return home as her family did not have the financial means for her to continue in her field. This experience had a lasting impact on Fahmida, but her determination led her to pursue an education in Pakistan and to earn her Masters of Science degree. Following this achievement, Fahmida immigrated to Canada. Over the next few decades, she raised two boys as a single mother in the 1960s and 1970s. Her two passions in life were her boys and science, and despite the hardships she faced as a single Pakistani Muslim woman she remained dedicated to her family and career. She spent the duration of her career working with National Museums of Canada, conducting research in freshwater biology.
Fahmida’s early scholarship experience encouraged the Rafi family to establish this bursary in her memory, and in hope that it will inspire other women experiencing financial barriers to pursue studies in science. The Fahmida Rafi Bursary is awarded annually to international women students with demonstrated financial need who are continuing in a Bachelor of Science degree program, with preference given to students enrolled in Biology.