Receiving critical donor support to finish her nursing degree has inspired Kyla Richardson and her family to think about giving back down the road. (Photo: Submitted)

Giving a lifeline of support

Thanks to donor support through scholarships and bursaries, University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Nursing student Kyla Richarson is ready to apply the skills she learned in the classroom and provide compassionate care.

Kyla Richardson knows firsthand that caring and authentic relationships can have a huge impact. As a community youth worker for nearly two decades, she found that being fully present with her clients and engaging in respectful communication allowed her to provide meaningful support. She’s now graduating from the USask College of Nursing, carrying these values forward and is committed to providing individualized nursing care to her clients.

In 2017 Kyla made the courageous decision to return to school to become a registered nurse. A single parent to a 12-year-old daughter, Kyla lives on a small farm outside Saskatoon along with her retired mother. While her work with youth at the time was incredibly rewarding, she was seeking a role with greater financial stability for her family and looking for a new challenge. Nursing fit the bill, combining her love of science and learning with supporting people in various life circumstances.

Kyla was honoured to be the first student to receive the Guy and Joyce Evans Memorial Award in Nursing in the 2018/19 academic year. Joyce Evans established this fund through a gift in her will 15 years before she passed away. As a member of the Greystone Circle, the university’s legacy group, she was able to envision the impact her gift would have by seeing examples of other members’ realized gifts.

Originally from Trinidad, Joyce was raised by a single mother and dreamed of being a nurse. She completed her nursing studies in London, UK, and moved to Saskatoon in the late 1970s. It was particularly important to Joyce that students receiving this award demonstrate the concept of caring as an essential component of nursing. Kyla truly embraces this commitment to compassionate care, a trait which her instructors have consistently endorsed.

When Kyla entered her third year of studies, she knew it would include long hours and a heavy course load. This meant that keeping her part-time job would put a strain on her studies and her family. Receiving the Guy and Joyce Evans award at that time provided a much-needed boost.

“For students like me, finding a way to make ends meet is a huge challenge. Worrying about money creates a lot of stress. Bursaries and scholarships from incredible donors like Joyce Evans make all the difference.”

Kyla believes that the positive impact of student awards goes beyond just the student. “By supporting a student, you are not just helping me. You are contributing to a healthier future for my daughter, my community, and my future patients,” she explained.

Despite nursing final clinical placements being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyla successfully completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May 2020. She is currently balancing studying for her national nursing exam, the NCLEX, with home-schooling her daughter and making sure that her family stays safe, which she noted is a challenging responsibility.

Although this is not how she imagined she would finish her degree, Kyla said the COVID-19 outbreak does highlight the important role of nurses.

“I hope that the pandemic has increased public awareness of the brilliant and important work nurses do. I hear stories from people in the hospitals and care homes that are hardest hit. I hear the sorrow behind the words but I also see the incredible technical skill that nurses possess, trying everything in their power and knowledge to save lives while providing as much humanity as possible.”

Kyla said seeing how these nurses embody the skills she has developed through her education is inspiring. “The knowledge I have started to gain is so clearly on display in these nurses and I am overwhelmed by their skills.”

While Kyla hopes to take the NCLEX exam in the fall, she has also acknowledged her willingness to enter the field as a graduate nurse. “If the system starts begging for nurses, I will answer the call and go.”

If you would like to make a gift today to help students through scholarship and bursary support, please visit give.usask.ca. If you would like to support students’ ambitions through a gift in your Will, please go to usask.ca/giftplanning or email us at gift.planning@usask.ca.

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