Duncan student to spend summer fighting cancer

Kayleigh Morris, of Duncan Christian Secondary School, won’t be spending her summer at the beach or camping. She’ll be fighting cancer.

Kayleigh Morris, of Duncan Christian Secondary School, won’t be spending her summer at the beach or camping. She’ll be fighting cancer.

Morris is heading off for a summer internship at the Deeley Research Centre in Victoria.

The centre offers high school programs geared to Grade 11 students, designed to give them the opportunity to explore cancer research from the front lines and learn the latest techniques being used today in the fight against cancer.

She said that she uncovered the internship by chance.

“I found out about it in the beginning of this year. I was researching some information about leukemia because a friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia this year. So the moment I saw it I knew it was right for me for the summer.”

The internship dovetails with her future career goals.

“At this point I am looking at going into the field of biotechnology and I think this kind of internship will be a really great opportunity for me to learn the different things that go on in labs. That’s where we will be spending most of our time, learning the different treatments they have going on right now,” she said.

“I think this will be a great way to see what kinds of things they do. If I do decide to go into chemical engineering, that would be a great way to find out if how I want to do it is through biotechnology.”

Being chosen meant beating out some stiff competition for the internship.

“The whole process of getting in was quite a challenge,” she said. “First I was nominated by Duncan Christian School — each school can nominate two people — and then all the nominees on Vancouver Island came together for a retreat day at the [DRC] to see the kinds of things we would be doing in the lab if we were chosen. That was a bit nerve-wracking because I could see we were all very suitable candidates. There was quite a competition there. So, when I got the call back for an interview I was very excited and I’m absolutely honoured to be given this position. I think it will be an amazing opportunity.”

Morris’s family is very proud of her. “I’ve had a lot of support from them,” she said.

Morris begins work Monday, continuing until Aug. 26.

“Two graduate students and two researchers — our teachers — will be leading the four of us into what we have to do,” she said. “We’ll be split into two groups. Two of us will be working under a leader and a grad student. The goal of this is to learn how cancer is treated but we’ll also be responsible for creating a research project about a certain area that we found interesting. We’ll be presenting that on the last day of the internship.”

“We at DCS are very proud of Kayleigh for earning a well-deserved placement with the BC Cancer Agency,” said Duncan Christian Secondary principal Jeremy Tinsley. “Kayleigh is an incredibly talented and hard working student, someone who is humble, kind and embodies what we’re all about at DCS. It’s awesome to see students impacting our community and country in such positive ways. She’s a tremendous example to other students in demonstrating that with hard work, faith, and perseverance, great things can be achieved.”