Nov. 12, 2020

Scholarship gives financial support and confidence boost to new nurse

Ewa Makarewicz, BN'20 shares how receiving the Donald and Agnes Cooke Nursing Scholarship changed her life
Ewa Makarewicz

Sometimes a donor gift – large or small – can change the direction of someone’s life. That was the case for Ewa Makarewicz who, in 2019, received the Donald and Agnes Cooke Nursing Scholarship and graduated in 2020. The scholarship is awarded annually to a degree-holder student in their second, third or final year at UCalgary Nursing and is based on academic merit.

Makarewicz completed her Bachelor of Science in Honours Physiology and Developmental Biology at UAlberta in 2016 and was inspired to enter nursing when a family member ended up hospitalized that same year.

“That was an incredibly difficult time for my family as we felt lost and unsure what the future would hold,” says Makarewicz now. A negative interaction with a nurse led her family to doubt the compassionate care at the hospital and motivated her to want to join the health-care system to provide ethical patient-centered care. “I know I can’t change the system, but I am committed to creating safe and positive health-care experiences for anyone I interact with as an RN.”

During her preceptorship, Makarewicz started to question her ability to complete her two-year program at UCalgary Nursing. “I was struggling with depression and almost took a year off and thought of maybe leaving altogether,” she says. That’s when she received the notice that changed her trajectory – notice of the decision that she had received the Donald and Agnes Cooke Scholarship.

“It was a glimmer of joy amidst the darkness. It gave me hope that perhaps I am in fact cut out for nursing and did have it in me to complete my preceptorship.

“Although the financial support was very important to me, I think what I needed even more at the time was just a boost in confidence and someone showing me that they believed in me,” Makarewicz continues. “I truly feel Agnes sent out a lifeline when there was little hope left. Words are not enough to express my gratitude.”

Since graduating, Makarewicz has been working as a casual RN at a COVID testing centre and on a surgical unit, and was recently hired for a full-time position as a case manager in rural homecare, a role she is very excited to begin.

“I have since dealt with my depression and I believe the root causes are all resolved. I am so excited that I was able to complete my program on schedule despite the many hurdles I faced, and I look forward to a long career of helping others as an RN.”

Makarewicz is also looking forward to a time when she can meet her benefactor in person. “When this pandemic is over, I would love to take Agnes out for dinner to thank her in person and get to know her a little better as well.”

Agnes Cooke is a long-time supporter of UCalgary Nursing and is a retired registered nurse. She and husband Donald were married in 1950. The Donald and Agnes Cooke Scholarships offers up to $1,500 for two students who show motivation and commitment to pursuing a career in nursing.