Retired Medical Worker Gives $100,000 to Camosun’s New Health Building Campaign
Joan Wilmshurst has spent much of her life looking through lenses. As a registered medical technologist, she peered through a microscope all day, and in her spare time, she enjoyed bird watching with binoculars.
Her sharp eyes and clear passion for health – paired with a desire to nurture future generations of medical technologists – inspired Joan to give $100,000 to the Together for Health campaign. She wanted to support health education in Camosun’s new building, The Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness.
“I absolutely loved my work,” says Joan. “I hope that the Camosun students who study in the new building will love their careers as much as I did. I hope they help people and help the medical profession find cures for what ails us.”
Joan trained for her career in 1957-58 at the Institute of Pathology in Halifax, a public health facility associated with the Victoria General Hospital. She started working in public health labs, then stopped for a few years after her children were born. As they grew up, she worked part-time for a researcher at Dalhousie University and taught at a hospital.
She remembers how important teamwork and collaboration were in research and private lab settings.
“It was a team process,” she says. “Everybody worked on their parts of the solutions and helped each other. We always worked together.”
In the new facility, the next generations of health care workers will have the opportunity to work together as part of their education. Students from a range of programs will collaborate with each other in a way that reflects the current reality of health care settings.
“I’m happy to see this is the direction of health education,” says Joan. “I loved the challenge of identifying a very tiny organism under a microscope and knowing this might help somebody recover from an infection. My work made it possible for doctors to understand why somebody was having a medical problem.”
Family was another factor in Joan’s decision to give. Her son, Geoff Wilmshurst, is Vice President of Partnerships at Camosun, and she is proud of the passion he has for his work. She also gave in honour of her late husband, Ron Wilmshurst, who left her with a financial nest egg. “Ron would have approved of me giving back to something that matters to me.”
Joan reflects on how lucky she is to be a healthy and active woman in her 80s who plays tennis and bridge weekly. She maintains her own large garden and continues to spend time bird watching, going out with groups several times a week.
“One of my talents is to see the little things, the details. What are the features about it that make it a certain bird?” Joan has applied this lens to her career as a medical technologist and, now, as a generous donor making a meaningful contribution to the health care field.