Acadia University math instructor Dr. Catherine Stanley loved her family, mathematics, and teaching. She also loved life. While battling metastatic breast cancer, she wrote her own obituary and offered one last, meaningful piece of advice following her death in May 2016; "To everyone who reads this, enjoy what you have in life and ignore the rest. Love, Catherine."
It seemed only fitting that her husband Hans Albarda, and daughters Janna and Alice, along with her colleagues in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, established a scholarship to honour her legacy. The $1,000 scholarships were awarded in April 2018 to math majors who also serve as teaching assistants at Acadia.
“Catherine wanted her life to have a definite positive effect on others,” says Hans. “She cared very much about all her students at Acadia, and she would be so pleased that she has a way to continue helping math students well into the future. This scholarship will be a small but significant way to strengthen education in mathematics.”
Hans explains that in a world where there are so many unknowns, Catherine latched on to pure math, which “was, still is, and will always be flawless and consistent perfection. This was Catherine's lifelong guiding light – the beauty of mathematics. She would be pleased that this scholarship has come to be, for those two reasons.”
For her family, Hans says, “our thanks go out to the many donors who have made this scholarship possible, and especially to Acadia University for everything that has so positively taken place since our Catherine first happened to walk across the front lawn of the campus in 1999.”
It was a chance meeting during a stroll on campus that led to a chat with a mathematics professor, and that early connection would lead Catherine to a 13-year career at Acadia.
Her colleague Dr. Richard Karsten explains that Catherine practiced mathematics because she enjoyed it.
“She reminded us that mathematics is beautiful and fun; that we are very lucky to go to work each day and play with numbers, formulas and theorems, and through teaching, to invite others to join the game,” he says.
“You don’t always recognize the importance of having someone like Catherine around until they are no longer there. So, to have this award to recognize students who share Catherine’s passion for learning and teaching mathematics is a way we can say thank you for what she gave to us.”
Friend and colleague, Debbie Boutilier, agrees, adding, “Catherine was modest, and if she were here to donate the money I suspect she might do it anonymously. But I also think she would approve the named award as a concrete way that she can still make a difference in a student’s life.”
About the first recipients
Kirsten is currently in her fourth year of a five-year integrated BSc and BEd program at Acadia. Early on, Kirsten knew that she wanted to become a mathematics teacher and in her first year participated in outreach mathematics initiatives with local middle and high school students. By second year, Kirsten was a mathematics tutor in the Math and Stats Help Centre (MASH), and a teaching assistant in the calculus studio. By third year, Kirsten was helping to develop new materials for mathematics outreach initiatives. Given her conscientious marking, and her care and thoroughness when helping students, Kirsten has been an asset to the outreach program and studios during her time at Acadia.
Alice completed a BSc with a major in mathematics at Acadia and is currently in her final year of completing a Master of Science with a specialization in mathematics. During her undergraduate degree, Alice served as a teaching assistant in many mathematics and statistics courses, and as a tutor in the MASH centre. Given her encouragement and approachability with students, Alice has proven to be a valuable part of studios and MASH. This past year, she has taken on a leadership role in MASH by helping mentor our junior tutors and has led studio sections of many statistics courses. Her participation in outreach visits to local middle schools and involvement in math buffets for high school students demonstrate her passion for mathematics and enthusiasm for teaching.
About the Dr. Catherine Stanley Memorial Scholarship
Established in 2017, the scholarship honours the memory of Dr. Catherine Stanley, a member of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 2002 until 2015. In recognition of Catherine’s love of mathematics, the scholarship will be awarded to a student who has demonstrated joy and enthusiasm in learning and teaching mathematics and statistics. Recognized for outstanding academic achievement, the recipient will also have demonstrated excellence as a department Teaching Assistant. The scholarship is awarded to mathematics majors on the recommendation of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Dr. Catherine Stanley received awards and accolades for her achievements in mathematics throughout her elementary and secondary school years in Ontario and Australia. This continued through her three degrees at the University of Toronto. Catherine had a deep love of the absolute and outright perfection which exists within mathematics. In her words, “Teaching math at Acadia University was a career I never planned, but I found great joy in teaching. I loved my students. All of them. From first-year Intro Stats to third-year Number Theory. Thank you all for the honour of working with you.”
Click to donate to the Dr. Catherine Stanley Memorial Scholarship.