By Amanda Boundris
Sele (Leo) Akioyamen, a second-year nursing student, was recognized at the School's annual awards assembly on Mar. 4.
Sele (Leo) Akioyamen always knew he wanted to work with people and science, and with his grades in high school, he could have chosen from any number of career paths. In the end, it was the experience of his parents that made him choose to study nursing at McMaster.
The Akioyamens were bankers in Nigeria before coming to Canada and making the career change to nursing. Today, they work as nurse managers in mental health.
"When I saw them go through nursing school here, I saw a change in them. They became better people as they became nurses; better parents, more understanding, and better at listening to people," said Akioyamen. "This had a huge impact on why I chose nursing. I wanted to provide a better level of care, to share the importance of patients’ stories, and to truly have an impact on their lives."
The second-year nursing student from Scarborough was honoured for his academic achievements, which included earning top marks in first-year. Akioyamen was one of more than 300 students from the School of Nursing (SON) recognized at the School's annual awards assembly on March 4.
The achievements of students in the McMaster Mohawk Conestoga Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) Program at McMaster University, Mohawk College and Conestoga College and the McMaster Health Sciences Graduate Nursing Program were celebrated at the event in the CIBC Hall of the McMaster Student Centre on campus.
Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of Health Sciences and director of the nursing school, told the award winners: "This afternoon’s celebration is a great opportunity for us to show how proud we are of your accomplishments."
Marlene Raasok, Conestoga College’s executive dean of the School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services, encouraged the group to "take a moment to celebrate your achievements," adding: "Nobody gets an award in the BScN Program without dedication, work and demonstrating excellence in knowledge and skills."
In addition to the Clarence L. Starr Prize, which goes to the student who completes the first year of the BScN program with the highest sessional average, Akioyamen received the McCusker Nursing Scholarship for demonstrating academic excellence and he also made the Deans’ Honour List.
Akioyamen said he always earned good grades in high school, but he was "completely surprised" that he achieved the highest average last year.
"I didn’t actively seek to do that, I just tried to do my best, which I think everyone is doing so when you get an award for something you should be doing, it’s kind of like getting an award for doing the dishes," he said.
Akioyamen credits the support from family, friends, professors, teaching assistants and mentors as the key to his success, and also keeping busy with extracurricular activities, which helps him prioritize and take his mind off of studying when he needs a break. He is a member of the McMaster African Students Association, McMaster Gospel Choir, Hamilton Chinese Christian Fellowship, and he’s a Student Success Leader. He also plays intramural volleyball and is part of the McMaster Men in Nursing Society.
Now, nearly halfway through his time in the nursing program, he is positive he chose the right university.
"A lot of people at McMaster do really amazing things and when you open your eyes to that, you can’t help but be more motivated to do your best," he said. "I love this school. I am in the best place possible to do exactly what I love."
[Photos from awards assembly]
[Award recipients and descriptions of awards]