A childhood dream come true

Surrounded by supportive family and generous donors, Liz Walters has found her calling.

By Cassie Dowse

Liz Walters, nursing student at Western.

“Everything about nursing resonates with me – especially the connection with patients,” says Western nursing student Liz Walters. “It offers the perfect blend of compassion and science.”

As a child, nurses made a deep and lasting impression on Liz. Her mother – a personal support worker who emigrated from Jamaica to Canada – also instilled an appreciation for health-care workers as she supported Liz and her three siblings.

When Liz broke her arm at age 10, her mother struggled to understand what the emergency room staff were saying to her.   

“My mother, who speaks Patois, found the language barrier difficult. Although I spoke English, I felt too young to confidently speak for myself. Nurses made us feel comforted and respected. I knew I would one day provide that same empathetic care for others.”

For Liz, the road to nursing school has not been easy. Growing up in a neighbourhood with socioeconomic struggles, post-secondary education wasn’t a given, but it was something she aspired to.

“Some people discouraged me from following this journey, but my siblings and I were taught to pursue our dreams regardless. At the end of the day, what you think matters – and I want to make a difference in the world.”

Donors make all the difference

During her health sciences undergraduate studies in St. Catharines, Liz worked full-time to fund her education. When she was accepted to Western’s Compressed Time Frame BScN Program, she knew the heavy course load and clinical placement would make it next to impossible to go to school and hold down a job.

Upon learning she’d been awarded a donor-funded bursary, Liz cried tears of joy. “When I called my mother, she let out a deep sigh. It was a significant relief because it meant she could support my siblings with their educational finances and worry less about mine.”

Liz Walters studying.

“The bursary meant more than financial support; it signified belief in my potential.”

Like Liz, many Western students require financial support. When you give through Western, you remove financial barriers, enabling hard-working students to realize their dream of making a difference in the world.

Paying it forward

In what would be a full circle moment, Liz hopes to find a position at a children’s hospital after graduation. “In my childhood I dreamed that I’d land exactly where I am right now,” she says. “Donors have helped me achieve my goals.”

Liz also wants to make her family proud. “I want my mother to see that she made the right decisions for us – to witness her hard work was all worth it.”