EDMONTON, AB - Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse has teamed up with his former high school in Hamilton to create the Darnell Nurse Excellence Scholarships.
According to a press release from Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, Nurse approached St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School in late 2020 about creating a scholarship in his name.
"You talk about the coming together of ethnicities and people of different backgrounds and different financial statuses - it has it all," Nurse said of the school, from which he was an honours graduate in 2013. "St. Thomas More, for me, was one of the most inclusive places I've ever been part of."
The scholarship will be awarded for the next three years to two graduates at Nurse's alma mater, ensuring that deserving students are not hindered in pursuing their post-secondary aspirations because of financial need. Interested candidates were invited to submit an essay which showed, among other criteria, how they have overcome difficulty and excelled at school.
More than 32 essays were submitted for consideration in the inaugural year of the scholarship - valued at $40,000 per student - and on May 25 the first two were presented virtually to Tharani DeSilva and Kiarra Melanson. Their essays, which cited some of the hardships they both have faced over the years, had Nurse, admittedly, "damn near in tears."
"You're going to make real change and it's great that it began here at a school that meant so much to me," Nurse said on a video call as he congratulated DeSilva and Melanson.