U of T alumna wants to keep the passion for nursing burning bright

3 February 2023

Profile of Ruth Kipka Lemole

Photo by Patrick Browne

For Ruth Kipka Lemole, the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing has always been at the forefront of reinvigorating the future of nursing. As a student in the BScN program from 1992-1996, Kipka Lemole felt that she was given not only a foundation in education, but also life-skills that she would take with her throughout her career and personal life.

“My time at Bloomberg Nursing was undoubtedly life changing. I still remember how inspired I was by my professors including Dean Dot Pringle, and Professor Gail Donner among many others. They gave me the hands-on experience to excel in clinical, a voice for my knowledge and passion, and an empathetic drive that I continue to use to this day,” says Kipka Lemole.

This profound sense of connection to her alma mater is what motivates Kipka Lemole to continue to give back to Bloomberg Nursing, and in recent years especially, inspire a future generation of nurses to keep going. She has been a staunch supporter of Bloomberg Nursing’s Golden Notes program, where each September, alumni pen notes of encouragement and support to the incoming class of nursing students who receive the notes on their orientation day.

“During the pandemic I wanted to empower new students and make them feel essential. They worked so hard to get into U of T, and they have likely given a lot of thought to going into the nursing profession. I wanted to help them feel like they made the right decision, despite the challenges they will face. To help them realize that nursing is a wonderful way for a person to give of themselves, and that it’s worth it, they will feel it, they will feel essential,” says Kipka Lemole.

In addition to engaging with undergraduate students through Golden Notes, Kipka Lemole and her husband created the Michael and Ruth Kipka Lemole Student Bursary, an endowed award that supports undergraduate nursing students in financial need.

Kipka Lemole says that she always wanted to be a helper. At the age of six, when she had a fall and needed stitches in her nose, she remembers the care she received from nurses in the ER that day and was mesmerized by the help they provided to those who were sick.

“It gave me this sense of all encompassing care, I knew I would be taken care of, and that everything was going to be okay. That feeling never left me and I wanted to be that beacon of care to someone else,” says Kipka Lemole of her decision to become a nurse.

She found her niche in pediatrics through her clinical placements Sick Kids in Toronto before heading south to the U.S. and working in the PICU unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix Arizona, while spending some of her time as a float nurse in the NICU. For Kipka Lemole, working with that population and helping children and their parents throughout their health care journey was infinitely rewarding, and something she credits her time at Bloomberg Nursing for providing her with a foundation to excel in, particular through a holistic care approach.

Now as a homemaker with five children of her own, Kipka Lemole continues to support both the nursing profession and U of T’s Bloomberg Nursing because she is a firm believer in the progress the Faculty of Nursing has made, and its continued acceleration particularly in its research that seeks to enable healthier lives and dismantle barriers to social justice.

“I have a huge passion to encourage people to go into the field of nursing,” says Kipka Lemole, “there is a lot of fatigue right now, but I can see the vitality of Bloomberg Nursing particularly through its research. I’m proud to support the faculty and researchers who continue to seek solutions through their evidence-based work and empower them.”

Kipka Lemole also encourages other alumni to remember the community that Bloomberg Nursing provides and to add to that flame of passion for future nurses, to remind them why they are in the field and that they are indeed important, essential, and unique.

“I would say to my fellow alumni, everything you do stems from that community that you were given and that supported you,” says Kipka Lemole. “Giving back to the Bloomberg Nursing and the University of Toronto is coming full circle, it generates more nursing, it keeps the fire going. Let’s ignite that passion for nursing and keep it burning bright.”