Active alumni supporter and BScN 7T9 graduate Elizabeth Walker knew hosting a Dinner with 12 Strangers would be a wonderful way to engage the Bloomberg Nursing community. Taking great care to create a welcoming atmosphere, Walker had name tags ready, eased students into the dinner by having them sit beside alumni and prepared an elegant three-course meal. This attention to detail made the group, who truly were strangers, feel immediately at ease and set the stage for an evening of shared experience, advice and good food.
“I loved the opportunity to use my role as an alum to bring this great mix of nurses together and talk about our profession from a number of different stages in our careers,” said Walker, Analyst, Research and Policy, Family Health – Peel Public Health. “What started off as complete strangers coming together ended up being a robust evening of sharing information and expertise.”
BScN 7T1 graduate Moya Johnson, now the councillor for the Town of Halton Hills, Linda Da Costa from the class 8T0 and Barbara Fowler, a BScN 8T9 graduate and current manager of the Healthy Sexuality Program for the Peel Region brought their considerable knowledge to the dinner. Responding to numerous questions around community health, they provided students insights on public health, attributes needed to succeed in that field of nursing, and what experiences new nursing graduates should undertake to be a good fit with community health.
The students including Sharon Grossman, Cynthia Siva, Andrea Somers and recent graduate Nicole Harada eagerly absorbed the information and were able to share their future goals, student experiences and knowledge of the second-entry program, which began in 1997. Zoraida DeCastro Beekhoo, a senior lecturer with the Faculty attended the dinner as a way to discover more about the Bloomberg Nursing alumni network:
“I did my nursing studies in New York and was interested in really learning about our Bloomberg Nursing alumni, and get more insight around our undergraduate student expectations,” said Beekhoo, the undergraduate clinical placement co-ordinator at the Faculty. “This was a wonderful forum to gain a historical perspective on where our graduates are going, where they started and especially, to see the pride our current and past students have at being part of the nursing program.”
Beekhoo has always been impressed by the level of alumni engagement and commitment and left feeling that “our alumni are truly leaders in the community and the profession and would be great role models for our students. There really is a connection– the pride of being a U of T alumnus really stands out and speaks to the strength of our Faculty and the university overall.”
After the meal, more than one attendee expressed interest in creating their own Dinner for 12 Strangers and future plans are underway. Thank you to Elizabeth Walker for inviting alumni, students and faculty to connect at her dinner and strengthen the ties of the Bloomberg community.