2001 Graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Science, Honours Human Ecology.
2004 Graduated from The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of The University of Toronto (OISE) with a Bachelor of Education.
On September 8, 1978 Amanda was born in Brampton, Ontario. On her first birthday she moved to London, Ontario. She grew up there with her parents, Pam and Frank, and her older brother, Matthew and her younger sister, Kathryn.
As a young girl Amanda enjoyed playing sports such as baseball and basketball, exhibiting some “tomboy” tendencies. She was not fond of wearing dresses and on the occasion of her First Communion she announced that she would not wear a dress again until her wedding day. Amanda’s determination and certainty about how she would live her life were already evident.
Amanda always had a way that drew people to her – she made everyone feel that they were important. She had a great capacity to love and be loved. With her amazing blue eyes and her natural smile, she brightened up any room she walked into. People felt better just being around Amanda. She was always quick to forgive and forget. Her warmth and sincerity were genuine and she acted on these feelings. She wanted to help those less fortunate and for a time considered adopting a child in Africa. After thinking about it, she decided there were many people around her that could use the money. People in her life would find a few dollars tucked into their knapsacks when she knew they were a little short.
Amanda did not just live her life, she owned it. She approached everyday with passion and lived it to the fullest – at work and at play. As hard as she worked (she was known to have 3 jobs at one time), it was equally important to her to have FUN. Amanda did not cook, but she always knew where to find the best restaurant. Having a bad day? – “Let’s go shopping!” Having a really bad day? -’Let’s go dancing!” Having a really, really bad day? – “Let’s party!”
Amanda had unique little quirks. Her hair was straight but she was always straightening it; she would suggest trying a new drink called a ‘Mojito’ because it ‘sounded good’ and then say, “Let’s keep drinking it ’cause it smells like Grandma’s house”. Some of her friends found her taste in music and TV questionable- Boy Bands and reality TV shows – ‘Survivor’ was one of her favourites.
Amanda’s standards to live by were very clear and they were hand printed on a white board and hung on her bedroom wall. She was reminded every morning of how she wanted to live: ‘Whatever you want to do, do it NOW. There are only so many tomorrows.’
Amanda’s love for outdoor activities remained with her. She tried all the things that she could fit into her busy life including white water rafting and mountain climbing and dreamt of combining her love of travel and sport with a trip to Africa to conquer Mount Kilamanjaro.
Amanda loved to teach and felt the most joy when she was teaching her class of Resource Students. She brought her love of fun and her matter-of-fact attitude to the classroom. This was best summed up by a student when she wrote ‘decimals were a blast with you’…’thanks for smiling at me everyday when I walked in!’
Perhaps Amanda knew that she needed to live each day as if it was her only day. On November 17, 2006, Amanda was told that she had untreatable cancer and as with everything in her life, Amanda took the time she needed to adjust to the enormity of this pronouncement and then made the most of her days. She longed to live until spring – and she did! Spending her time in her family home she lived – she did not wait to die – with the love and support of all the people that were so special to her. Amanda remained in control of her day to day life and took every moment one at a time. She did not dwell on what she could not do, but did everything that she could do. She was courageous in her ability to adapt to the new challenges that were presented everyday.
On Sunday, July 8, 2007, Amanda passed away. Some would say that the cancer had won. But although Amanda accepted the inevitable outcome of her struggle, her spirit was strong and it inspired The Amanda Marie Cowan Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund will allow her sense of hard work and fun to be carried forward to other aspiring teachers that share Amanda’s standards to live by. Amanda’s message to each recipient: “This is your lucky day – go out and live it.”
The Amanda Marie Cowan Memorial Scholarship Fund will provide an academic award for a deserving student at The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. The Award, to be made each year on Amanda’s birthday, will recognize both the student’s academic promise and financial need.