Getting a leg up

Paying it forward has always been second nature for Tannis Kemp. So a scholarship that aims to help UCalgary graduate students who give back to the community has found its perfect match.

“As cliché as it sounds, I’m motivated by helping and serving others,” says Kemp, a master’s student in mechanical engineering with a focus on bone and joint mechanics. “Through my career, I hope to develop technology that improves quality of life and health outcomes.”

Sisters and UCalgary alumnae Safia Nathoo, BSc’07, MSc’09, MBA’14, and Nabeela Nathoo, BSc’09, PhD’14, MD’17, funded the Nathoo Family Graduate Scholarship, a $2,000 award given annually to a Faculty of Graduate Studies student who is registered in a thesis-based graduate program. It rewards grad students who are also involved in leadership and volunteer activities.

The scholarship gives Kemp, who in 2019 joined the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health at the Cumming School of Medicine, a leg up of sorts on her joint-related research. Her work could benefit the elderly and others who develop osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle.

“It’s an honour to receive a scholarship from two young, accomplished and inspiring women,“ says Kemp. “It’s very impressive that they chose to build a legacy at such a young age, and I am inspired by their dedication to community, education and philanthropy.”

Kemp, who also earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UCalgary, is hoping to learn more about what causes osteoporosis, how to prevent it, and how to treat it. Her mom was diagnosed with osteoporosis in her 40s, but that is not the only reason Kemp is doing research. She’s been fascinated by science and solving problems since high school.

Her passion for science and giving back has led her to help young women pursue their own interests in the sciences as a career. She volunteers with the Schulich School of Engineering doing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education outreach for girls.

“I’m proud to be a woman in engineering and I hope to serve as a mentor to other young women interested in a challenging and rewarding career,” she says.

It’s an honour to receive a scholarship from two young, accomplished and inspiring women. It’s very impressive that they chose to build a legacy at such a young age, and I am inspired by their dedication to community, education and philanthropy.

Tannis Kemp

Nathoo Family Graduate Scholarship recipient

Kemp, who has lived in Calgary for most of her life, says she was drawn to UCalgary for its world-class education and research opportunities, as well as the fact that she could stay close to her family.

Her volunteer experience includes working with the Distress Centre Calgary, as a crisis line volunteer, and with Engineers Without Borders and many UCalgary clubs — all of which have taught her about volunteerism, community, social impact and gratitude.

She was an education representative on the McCaig Institute Trainee Committee. In her role, she acted as the student voice on projects aimed at improving the education experience for the institute.

UCalgary offers a very warm and inclusive student experience for both graduate studies and undergraduate studies, says Kemp. “Through student clubs, health and wellness initiatives and excellent academic programs, UCalgary really puts the students first.”

She recognizes that student awards and scholarships such as the one she’s received provide students with incredible financial support, recognizes their hard work and allows them to pursue exceptional career opportunities.

Dr. Robin Yates, vice-provost and dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies echoes that sentiment and the importance of student awards at the graduate level.

“The Nathoo Family Graduate Scholarship is a unique award in that the donors, Safia and Nabeela Nathoo, have a deep connection to our graduate community rooted in their own experiences as UCalgary graduate students,” says Yates. “In creating this scholarship, they recognized that financial support can be a major key to success during a graduate program. Student awards allow students to expand their graduate experiences with opportunities like attending conferences and workshops, accessing specialized resources and more. Donor support for our graduate students helps ensure the University of Calgary is creating a world-class environment for graduate studies.”

Philanthropy also fosters community in tangible and meaningful ways, says Kemp, connecting philanthropists, organizations, institutions and individuals. “It creates discourse around important causes and provides resources to those causes. Philanthropy is a true act of kindness and selflessness.”

When Kemp sees others, like the Nathoo sisters, demonstrate a commitment to family and their greater community, she’s motivated to continue with these activities in her own life.

What spare time she has, she loves to spend outdoors, skiing both downhill and backcountry in the winter, hiking, backpacking and cycling in the summer, and dancing with the Ember Dance Company.

“I am absolutely humbled to have been awarded this scholarship, and I thank the Nathoo sisters for their commitment to their university and its students,” says Kemp.

To learn more about giving and how your support makes a difference, contact our giving team.

Tannis Kemp

Tannis Kemp's passion for science and giving back has led her to help young women pursue their own interests in the sciences as a career.

What Giving Gives Me  

Safia and Nabeela Nathoo

This was our first major contribution to an organization that directly impacted our lives and education. The experience helped us to recognize that we can play a bigger role in creating philanthropy awareness and encouraging others like us to find ways to give back.

Safia Nathoo, BSc’07, MSc’09, MBA’14, and Nabeela Nathoo, BSc’09, PhD’14, MD’17

The Nathoo Family Graduate Scholarship was created by a gift from sisters Safia and Nabeela Nathoo