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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Oxford Native Wins Prestigious Academic Award
Bill Martin
/ Categories: News

Oxford Native Wins Prestigious Academic Award

An Oxford native who has been collecting educational awards since her days at Amherst High School has been awarded the prestigious Vanier Scholarship for 2022.

Alexa Thompson is one of fifty-five recipients in the health stream worldwide—and the only winner this year from Nova Scotia.

The Vanier is the highest honour offered for doctoral students, bringing a prize of $150 thousand over three years, administered in Canada by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

While she started high school at the Oxford Regional Education Centre, officials saw great potential and convinced her to attend Amherst High School where the larger school might offer a greater challenge.

That’s where Thompson began collecting academic attention when she graduated with Honours and Distinction in 2015, accepting the Queen Elizabeth II Medal, not just for her studies, but also for participation in sports, and especially for community service—the young Miss Thompson served as a volunteer “Candy Striper” at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.

She moved to Edmonton to attend the University of Alberta, an institution she identified in the top five universities in Canada.

She graduated in 2019 with a BSc Specialization in Cell Biology with Distinction and a Biomedical Research Certificate. However, she remained at U of A to pursue a Masters in Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

After her first year, she was granted a “fast-track” into their PhD program. 

Now in her 4th year of the doctoral program, Thompson’s research thesis is focussed in the public health field, specifically on improving the diagnosis and linkage to care for pregnant women and marginalised groups infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Alberta. 

The super student says, “The Vanier Scholarship competition is the most prestigious scholarship you can win in Canada at the doctoral level.” It aims to attract and retain the highest class of doctoral students from around the world to come to and stay in Canada.

The Vanier Scholarship competition takes into account a student’s academic merit, research contributions, and current and potential leadership capabilities.

The 2022 CIHR Vanier Scholar is a rare but growing breed. Until recent years there was a dramatic shortage of women in STEM programs—short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Thompson is quickly becoming a leader in her field.

She says, “I am hoping to inspire other young academics in Cumberland County to know that they too can achieve academic excellence at the highest level, regardless of our rural upbringing and lack of access to many educational resources (that otherwise are available in more urban settings).”

When asked where she’s headed, medicine or teaching, Thompson says research in the health care field perhaps in the not-for-profit sector.

When asked if her career path might bring her back to Cumberland County, she said, “You sound like my mother.”

Thompson married earlier this year and she and her husband live in Edmonton. However, she admits to a warm and soft spot in her heart for “Home” and she has not ruled out making her mother happy someday.

Alexa will be a guest on Morning Talk tomorrow on Six Rivers Radio. Listen HERE at 10:45.

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