For occupational therapists by an occupational therapist

Rehab Med alumna bequests $30K to establish scholarship for OT students

Amanda McCarthy - 18 July 2016

After receiving the gift of education from the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Christine Lefaivre decided to give one back.

The University of Alberta alumna, who graduated from the occupational therapy (OT) program in 1979, decided to bequest $30,000 to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine in a planned gift as a way to give back to the institution, the students and her program of choice.

"I loved being educated out of Corbett Hall and the University of Alberta," says Lefaivre. "The campus was beautiful, and the OT program was meaningful and useful.

I really enjoyed the clinical aspect. I had some fantastic clinical placements during my time in the program."

Since graduating, Lefaivre has gone on to do great things. She won the University of Alberta Alumni Association's Honour Award in 2001 and was twice named British Columbia Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the quality plus category. According to the University of Alberta Alumni website, "Christine Lefaivre, '79 BSc OT, has implemented groundbreaking strategies for working with people who have sustained traumatic brain injury."

In addition to her Clinical Assistant Professor role at UBC, Lefaivre is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. She has the strong belief that education is an important part of life-a belief that played a part in her decision to present the faculty with a planned gift.

"Education is very important, and the OT program is especially impactful and rewarding," she says. "I know from experience that it's a process for students to get into the rehab med programs. And on top of that, they also need to figure out a way to pay for tuition. So, I thought to myself, 'I want to contribute to easing their financial burden'."

And so she did. Lefaivre's gift in her will, will be used to establish an endowment fund to help provide scholarships to students in occupational therapy who are interested in specializing in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.

While Lefaivre is happy to help students following in her footsteps, her decision to donate was also based on the affinity she feels towards the faculty. As a proud alumna, she's paved the way for others in the OT field.

Lefaivre was one of the first to work as an OT in private practice with a focus on traumatic brain injuries, creating an in-house training program for her staff. "My main focus since 1979 has been clinical, committing my efforts to assisting individuals with brain injuries, until I sold my business in 2005," she says. That same in-house training program was turned into a textbook, Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation: The Lefaivre Rainbow Effect.

The creation of online courses and UBC's proficiency exam in "Brain Injury Case Management: The Lefaivre Rainbow Effect" followed. "It's really exciting to see my work being taught to others," she smiles.

"And not only that, it's also exciting to know that my contribution will be put to good use. If my planned gift can help students become excellent health practitioners, then that's all I could ask for. It's important to keep the legacy going."

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