Award Recipient

Andrea Paul

Recipient of the TD Aboriginal Baccalaureate Scholarship (2010, 2011)

I remember deciding that I wanted to be a nurse when I was seven years old.

I grew up in a small First Nations community called Eel Ground in northern New Brunswick. My grandparents lived in Boston, and we used to go and visit them all the time. When I was very little, my grandfather was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and he was hospitalized a lot of the time.

I remember going to visit him in hospital – and I’ll never forget the nurses there. They always took the time to talk to me and ask me how I was. They were so friendly to me – and more importantly, they were making my Papa feel better. He liked them too. I wanted to be just like them when I grew up!

The kids in my community experience more than our share of challenges. Before I’d finished high school, I’d had more familiarity with addictions, violence, abuse and suicide than anyone that age should have. Somehow I made it through with a determination that I’d do something to make it better for the other kids coming up behind me.

I was a good student, and focussed on science and math in high school so that I could go on to study nursing. I was accepted into the nursing program at the University of New Brunswick and was so excited that my dream was taking shape.

But, there was a challenge. My parents and extended family simply didn’t have the money to pay for my education. Without some kind of outside help, I’d never realize my dream.

Someone at the local hospital was familiar with my situation and suggested that I apply for a scholarship through the Canadian Nurses Foundation. I won a scholarship through the TD Aboriginal Nursing Fund – and that sent me on my way.

I graduated with my Bachelors of Nursing two years ago. Today, I’m a surgical nurse at my local hospital and I have a second part-time job at a local nursing home. I volunteer in the community – especially with education programs that teach girls self-respect and help young people navigate drugs, alcohol, violence and suicide. Today, I love my patients. I love the people I work with. I love my work – and I love my life.

I plan to go back to University to get my Master’s Degree in a couple of years. I want to become a Nurse Practitioner in my home community. Nurse Practitioners can diagnose illnesses, prescribe drugs and refer patients to specialists. They are especially valuable in small communities where doctors are scarce.
I dream of providing close-to-home health care right where I grew up. I even want to do house calls!

I’m living my dream today – and I’m so excited about my future. That dream and that future wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of the Canadian Nurses Foundation and the donors who support it. I will always be deeply grateful for the investment they made in a girl from New Brunswick who had a big dream.

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