'I feel grateful'
Forty years after the Ocean Ranger disaster, the granddaughter of one of those lost will cross the stage at convocation on Oct. 20.
Rebecca Burry’s grandfather, Joseph, was one of 84 people to lose their lives when the Ocean Ranger drilling platform sank on Feb. 15, 1982.
Ms. Burry received the Ocean Ranger Memorial Award four times during her bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program. The award was established in memory of the victims.
“Receiving the award has always been bittersweet, as it’s given annually on the anniversary of the disaster,” she said. “My dad was only a teenager when he lost his father, so it certainly prompts reflection on an incredibly tragic night for both the province and for my family, personally.”
Preference in selecting award recipients goes to lineal descents of the Ocean Ranger victims. Ms. Burry’s father, Oral Burry (B.Eng.’92) received it during his studies, as has her brother, Eric, who is a current Memorial student.
“[This award] also gave me the opportunity to reflect on what a privilege it is to have such strong support from my family throughout my entire degree.”
The 23-year-old from Churchill Falls began her time at Memorial as a science student, but found it wasn’t the right fit.
She switched to the Faculty of Business Administration and transferred into the co-operative commerce program as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It was difficult to build connections and meet new people while completing university remotely,” she said. “However, through group assignments, online classes and co-op work terms, I was able to meet some really great people and still receive an excellent education.”
One of the highlights of her time at Memorial was working as a teaching and research assistant for Dr. Chansoo Park.
“Among the thousands of students that I have taught, I firmly believe that Rebecca is one of the most outstanding students that I have encountered.”— Dr. Chansoo Park
This allowed her to help with the research and editing of two papers that were published in the Journal of International Management and Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences.
Dr. Park has high praise for Ms. Burry’s work.
“Among the thousands of students that I have taught, I firmly believe that Rebecca is one of the most outstanding students that I have encountered,” he said.
Ms. Burry, in turn, calls Dr. Park a mentor.
“He’s played a huge role in my success as he has acted as a mentor as well as an employer, always going above and beyond to ensure I knew about every opportunity the business program has to offer. His extremely knowledgeable advice has helped guide me through my degree, and I’ve learned so much in the process.”
Ms. Burry was twice named to the Dean’s List during her studies.
She completed three work terms during her program at Service Canada, RothLochston and APlus Accounting Services.
She’s currently working as cost co-ordinator at PAL Aerospace in St. John’s. She aims to start working towards the chartered professional accountant designation in 2023.
Last year, she received the Chartered Professional Accountants’ Education Foundation of Newfoundland Inc. Scholarship, which goes to students who are focusing their studies in accounting and have the highest academic standing entering term seven of the commerce program.
“As my time at Memorial comes to a close, I feel grateful for the many opportunities granted to me through the university and the business faculty,” Ms. Burry said. “In particular, I highly recommend the co-op program to any prospective business student. It’s an excellent way to gain work experience and learn more about what interests you before heading out into the workforce.”