Teresa Oyer is determined to become a nurse and a recent grant from the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society is just fuel for her tenacity.
Oyer, a mother of four grown children and grandmother to five, is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that began at Okanagan College and now has her attending UBC Okanagan. (Students complete two years at the College and then transfer to complete their two final years at UBCO).
Making the transfer between the two institutions meant Oyer, now in her early 50s, was eligible for one of the $5,000 transfer scholarships that the Scholarship Society gives out annually. In 2016, the Society gave out 109 awards, totaling $545,000.
Five Okanagan College students, including Oyer, received the scholarships and proceeded to UBC.
It was a significant contribution for Oyer, who admits she has a full plate between responsibilities of family, helping care for grandkids, volunteering with the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and with the City of Kelowna access programs, and her studies.
“I have always been a caring person, and I have always wanted to be a RN. My mom was a nurse. In high school in Kamloops I was a candy striper at Royal Inland Hospital. At Halloween, as a child, I would always dress up as a nurse. I’ve been a health care provider for many years – I love teaching, advocating and caring for others.”
Her journey toward her goal wasn’t as straightforward as it might be for some just-out-of-high-school nursing students. She began at the College taking some of her pre-requisites in the school’s Adult Academic Career Preparation department. From English and biology, she took a foray into university arts courses at the College, including psychology and anthropology.
“I was always a good student, but I was not sure how I would do as a mature student,” she confides. “But my professors were great. They inspired confidence and I felt they recognized that my life experiences could contribute to the classroom.”
As she engaged in the nursing program, she found the small class sizes and quality of instruction reinforced what she had heard about the program’s reputation. As she entered her second year, that reputation was bolstered in her mind.
“In September last year (2015), I was diagnosed with and treated for lymphoma. I was even more determined that nothing was stopping me from accomplishing my dream. I have always believed that stumbling blocks can be used as stepping stones to success. This belief was followed with encouragement from the nursing staff, instructors and my family.
“My whole goal when I’m finished my studies is to ‘pay it forward.’ I hope to have my Master’s degree before I’m 60 and I am thinking about becoming a nursing teacher someday.”
She is grateful to the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society for its support, and has advice for fellow students: “take the time to find out what financial aid is available to you – do the research and apply.”
(Okanagan College has a website dedicated to financial aid for students, that makes researching sources of funding easy, and allows for online applications – visit Okanagan.bc.ca/financialaid)
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