University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Lifelong Learner

Jessie Current believed in the value of education, and created scholarships so others could follow their academic dreams

A U of T alumna who taught in the department of household sciences and, after retiring, took courses well into her 80s, has left a bequest to the university so that others might have the opportunity to learn.

A $1-million gift from the estate of Jessie Current has created bursaries for graduate and undergraduate students. A fellowship will be awarded to two graduate students in chemistry on the basis of financial need, and an undergraduate scholarship worth $5,000 a year will support up to four students throughout a four-year science program.

The Roberts Scholarship and Roberts Fellowship are named in honour of Current and her siblings, James and Ina Roberts, who predeceased her. Current died last year at age 108. Lynne Golding (BA 1984 VIC), who is Current’s cousin, says her elder relative loved learning, so when it came time for her to decide what to do with her estate, there was never any question that U of T would be a beneficiary. “She was very attached to academia,” says Golding.

Current was also aware that not everyone could afford to attend university. “She was a strong believer in the value of education, and its ability to bring people dignity,” says Golding.

Born in 1903 in Brampton, Ontario, Current was the youngest of three siblings. Her brother James graduated from U of T Dental College, receiving his degree in uniform and then serving with the No. 4 General Hospital, U of T. He was killed on active duty in France in 1918. Her sister Ina (BA 1919 VIC) did research in U of T’s chemistry department, and later lectured at the University of Manitoba. Current played Varsity women’s hockey until a knee injury sidelined her. She graduated from Victoria College in 1925, and went on to a career in academia, eventually becoming the acting dean of U of T’s department of household sciences. At 50, she married and retired from the university.

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