RNFOO Ambassadors: Previous Award Winners

There are some 1500 people who have been recipients of RNFOO Awards and Scholarships over the past 30 years.  Here are some of the stories of how nurses who have benefited from RNFOO's programs have contributed to health care in Ontario, and beyond.

Anne Marie Derks, NP, MScN
Winner of the Dr. Hildegarde E. Peplau Award, 2007, while a student at University of Ottawa

Establishing the Community Ambulatory Treatment Clinic in St. Thomas is just one of the results of the vision and dedication Anne Marie has for her work.  Anne Marie is a Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in mental health.  She works with people in the St. Thomas community living with severe persistent mental illnesses.  She also educates the staff of the acute admitting unit at St. Joseph's Health Care, Regional Mental Health Care Centre. “I have worked in mental health for 30 years and love what I do.  The RNFOO scholarship helped me obtain my Nurse Practitioner Certification after which I went on to obtain my MScN from the University of Ottawa.  RNFOO, your support was truly appreciated.”

Karla Dozzi RN, BScN
Winner of the RNFOO Gala Scholarship, 2006, while a student at  University of Toronto.

How did an RNFOO scholarship start a journey around the world?  For Karla Dozzi it was logical to use her scholarship funds to help people in less fortunate countries while fulfilling her goal of enhancing global health nursing. With her RNFOO funds she travelled to Namibia where she participated in an evaluation of the University of Namibia’s peer education program on HIV from the perspective of the peer educators themselves. Her next international trip saw her spending six months in Ghana as a Canadian Crossroads International Intern, on placement with a community development organization in the HIV/AIDS sector.

Read more: PW Karla Dozzi

Sarah Ibrahim, RN, MN
Winner of the 2011 Alumnae Association of the School of Nursing Toronto General Hospital Award, while a student at Ryerson University

Sarah received her RNFOO scholarship when she was enrolled in the Master of Nursing, thesis stream program at Ryerson University. She has completed her Master of Nursing and is now working with the Canada Research Chair of Interventions at the Health Intervention Research Centre at Ryerson University. “This award and the support from RNFOO enabled me to continue my education and advance my knowledge and skills.”

Grace Lee,RN
Winner of the Maternal Childbirth Nurses Interest Group Scholarship, 2011, while a student at University of Toronto.

Grace Lee’s has a singular focus to her ambitions - children.  She has centred her career and her studies on the wellbeing of children, and more recently has begun to specialize on the management of pain in infants. Her PhD research, with support from an RNFOO scholarship, will investigate methods and practices of pain management in infant patients of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 
“I believe that nurses in Ontario are very fortunate to have RNFOO's continual support.  It is not only the financial support that has been helpful; the networking opportunities have been invaluable.”

Read more: PW grace lee

Kelly Montanaro, RN,BScN
Winner of the Miriam Bracken Award and Regina Borowska Scholarship, 2011, while a student at St.Francis Xavier University.

Kelly achieved her RN in 1993 but after a number of years, she realized that she wanted more.  She decided to pursue her degree and succeeded in earning her BScN in 2012. “The degree program taught me so much about the importance of nursing leadership and how to promote the nursing role.” She is now Registered Nurses First Assistant at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance in Chatham.  “The scholarship I received from RNFOO went a long way in helping me pursue my degree. I am grateful!”

Alice Price, RN, BScN
Winner of the Regina Borowska Scholarship, 2011, while a student at Ryerson University.

Alice was not sure where her career would take her but visiting South Africa was a distant dream.  Completing her degree was the next step in her career path, and RNFOO was there to help. “I could not believe I had been awarded a scholarship. The award that I received from RNFOO spurred me on to complete my BScN and fulfill my dreams.” The scholarship enabled her to combine one of her dreams with her career goal:  she was able to complete her last nursing practicum in the rural community of Mseleni, South Africa, near the Mozambique border.

Read more: PW Alice Price

Daniel Robinson RN, BScN
Winner of the Saint Elizabeth Health Care Community Nursing Scholarship and Regina Borowska Scholarship, 2011, while a student at Western University.

Daniel remembers the days after receiving the RNFOO scholarship as ones laced with gratitude and pride.  “News of the scholarship spread very quickly and I was recognized by the University of Western Ontario’s Health Science Faculty via a widely disseminated communication. Classmates and strangers offered congratulations.”  And then came the offer from the Western University’s School of Nursing for a position as a clinical instructor. “I have no doubt that the RNFOO scholarship was a motivating factor in my receiving the offer to become a lecturer.”  Daniel accepted the offer and is now a teacher of new nurses in addition to his position as a Nurse Case Manager with the Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses (PEPP) at London Health Sciences Centre. “RNFOO believed in me and inspired me to continue to grow as a professional.  Thank-you,”

Wendy Seidlitz, RN, MSc
Winner of the Ontario Nursing Informatics Group (ONIG), 2007, while a student at McMaster University.

Working full time, raising two children, and working on her Master’s degree while her husband was pursuing a PhD, required Wendy Seidlitz to do a lot of juggling.  While pursuing her advanced degree at McMaster University's School of Nursing in Nursing Informatics she applied for an RNFOO scholarship. “Winning the award was so validating.  It made me feel that despite the hard work I had made the right decision.” The research started during her Master's degree was recently published.  You can read the article here.
After completing her degree Wendy took on further leadership and research roles including sitting on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics and the Canadian Nursing Informatics Association.  “Thank you to all the RNFOO members, donors and volunteers! If you are a student reading this, you should apply too!"

Ancy Sookraj, RN, BScN
Winner of the RNFOO Gala Scholarship, 2006, while a student at Ryerson University.

Ancy had a good job as a clinical educator at Trillium Health Centre, but her desire to make a difference in healthcare made her look for new opportunities.  When a managerial job, where she could mentor nurses became available, she was eager to apply.  To her dismay the job required that the candidate possess a nursing degree.  Undaunted, she pursued her degree and with the help of an RNFOO scholarship completed her BScN in 2007.  The next year she became the Manager of the Critical Care Unit at Trillium Health Centre.  Ancy continues to encourage the diploma-level RN nurses in her organization to further their education.  “I talk about my scholarship all the time and how the RNFOO invests in nurses. They believed in me and helped me achieve my goal. Thank you, RNFOO! ”

Jo Watson, NP, PhD
Winner of the Prenatal & Parenthood Education Research Award 2007, 2008, 2009, while a student at University of Toronto.

Dr. Jo Watson takes a deep breath as she adeptly balances her many responsibilities. As the Operations Director in the Women and Babies Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre she deals with many life changing issues. Her dedication to her profession doesn’t stop there.  Dr. Watson also manages to serve as adjunct faculty in the graduate program at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. “Research is one of my passions.  I continue to be active in research, developing expertise in implementing randomized control trials, Cochrane Reviews and program evaluation.The RNFOO awards enabled me to pursue my passions and contributed to my career success. The research award helped me complete my doctoral studies.”