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It takes a community

Spring nursing graduate finds purpose in teaming up to help others

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the Class of 2020 at Memorial.

By Marcia Porter

During her second year, Faculty of Nursing spring graduate Julia White and more than 20 of her fellow classmates signed up for CIBC’s Run for the Cure.

The event is an annual fundraiser that supports breast cancer research in Canada.

Among the group there was such a spirit of camaraderie and sense of purpose, she wondered: “If people are signing up for this, then what else would they be interested in doing?”

With the help of her older sister, Kate White, a Faculty of Nursing (FoN) alumna, the St. John’s native launched MUNFON Gives Back as a way to lend a hand to the university as well as larger communities.

“I just had this feeling, like many of my classmates, that we needed an outlet while in school, where we would be able to go out and help people,” said Ms. White, who begins her nursing career this month in the oncology department at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s.

Nursing students who teamed up to Run for the Cure inspired Julia White (bottom row, left) to launch MUNFON Gives Back.
Photo: Submitted

“It was a kind of motivator to help us get through the program, to know that all this hard work really has a purpose.”

Throughout her degree program, Ms. White and her fellow nursing students organized events big and small, including food, clothing, personal hygiene and blood drives; raised awareness about mental health through Bell Let’s Talk; and walked in support of the Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ms. White says she is “pretty proud” of the hygiene drives for The Gathering Place the students did in both 2018 and 2019

“Hygiene items are something they really lack. It felt really good to help. When you see people in need, it gives you a purpose, especially when you are asking yourself, ‘Why am I staying up late studying and getting all stressed out?’”

Premier’s Youth Council

Not only did the MUNFON Gives Back activities open Ms. White’s eyes to the needs of people in her community, they helped her develop more confidence and build her leadership skills.

In fact, this past January, she did something she says she likely would never have even considered in her first year of nursing.

Julia White, with the Premier’s Youth Council, is at the far right in the red blazer.
Photo: Submitted

She applied to be a member of the Premier’s Youth Council, a two-year volunteer position that puts her at the table with 24 other young people from across the province who come together with the premier and members of the House of Assembly to give them advice on issues from a youth perspective.

“In no way did I imagine that my nursing school experience was going to involve all of this. It was a bit intimidating because I don’t have much experience in politics.”

Ms. White says these experiences will help inform her nursing career and make her a better advocate for her patients.

“Most importantly, I’ve had experiences now that make me think critically about the way we do things.”

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