McMaster University

McMaster University

Nursing student running away with awards

By Amanda Boundris
Published: February 29, 2012
Sarah Haliburton with young patient at clinic in Kolkata, India
Sarah Haliburton with a young patient at a clinic in Kolkata, India during her clinical placement in 2011.

Sarah Haliburton has done a lot of running around to achieve success.

"I fit things in when I can. I tend to have to work at the track," said Haliburton, a veteran of both the McMaster cross-country and track teams, explaining her key to balancing it all as a student-athlete.

The fourth-year nursing student and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Cross-Country All-Star has been honoured for both her academic and athletic achievements at McMaster. Haliburton was one of close to 350 students from the School of Nursing (SON) who were recognized at the School's annual awards assembly on March 5.

Associate Dean of the SON Catherine Tompkins joined Catherine Hayward, associate dean of Graduate Studies; Alan Neville, associate dean of Education for the Faculty of Health Sciences; and a host of other representatives from McMaster University, Mohawk College and Conestoga College in celebrating the achievements of students in the McMaster Mohawk Conestoga Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) Program and the McMaster Health Sciences Graduate Nursing Program.

Speaking to the audience, Tompkins said the evening is "one of my favourite events of the year,' and that "this is an opportunity for us to celebrate success." She added: "We're very, very proud of you and we know you'll make exceptional nurses and have a great impact on health care."

Marlene Raasok, executive dean of the School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services at Conestoga College, encouraged the students in attendance to reflect on their personal contribution to nursing and to remember that "each award speaks to your commitment to nursing."

In addition to earning the Dr. Ronald V. Joyce Award for Athletes, which recognizes her outstanding athletic ability, Haliburton earned a University (Senate) Scholarship, and the Philomathia Travel Scholarship, which allowed her to complete a nursing placement with the Institute for Indian Mother and Child (IIMC) in Kolkata, India in the summer of 2011.

Other highlights from her time at McMaster include being a member of both the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) National Bronze Medal 4x800m Track Relay Team and the CIS National Silver Medal Cross-Country Team in 2010, and being named a Marauder Scholar and CIS Academic All-Canadian.

However, she doesn't see any award or race win as her biggest accomplishment. This Richmond Hill native is most proud of being able to come back from her 10-week placement in India with not only more confidence and knowledge as a nurse, but also successful in making the cross-country and track teams again after her return.

Before leaving for India, Haliburton was not even sure she would be able to train while there, let alone make either of the teams when she got back. But in Kolkata, she was up at 5 a.m. every morning to run.

"This past year has been my best year in running," said Haliburton, who finished ninth in the 3000m at the CIS National Track and Field Championship in Winnipeg, Man. on March 9.

Although she says she will finish her degree this year with "a passion for nursing' and an eye toward entering graduate studies, Haliburton admits she did not begin the program with the goal of being a nurse after graduation. "But, I found I really enjoy nursing. There are a lot of opportunities in nursing and you can really have an impact on people's lives."

Donalee Bearinger, who recently graduated with her BScN degree, received the Lynne Beaumont Scholarship for her work in the 2010-2011 academic year. She attended the event with her mom, dad and friend Annie Hofman, who was given a Deans' Honour List award.

"It's nice to be honoured for all our hard work," said Bearinger. "I feel blessed. I wasn't expecting it at all. I was very surprised."


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