WRC Distinguished Graduate Student Award Recipient 2018
Suzanna hopes that one day, the University of Calgary will name a classroom after her. It is no wonder considering she has been enrolled for more than a decade. After completing a BSc, Zoology (’10) and BN (’13), Suzanna began her pursuit of a rewarding nursing career demonstrating empathy and a deep-rooted commitment to vulnerable populations. Now, as fourth-year Master of Nursing student studying the narrative experience of disability, she works tirelessly to achieve academic excellence, professional distinction, and community leadership.
Over the past five years as a registered nurse, Suzanna has demonstrated integrity, empathy, and commitment to optimizing care for vulnerable populations. She was the charge nurse with the Adolescent Addictions & Mental Health inpatient unit before moving into a more autonomous position with the Psychiatric Emergency Services team at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. More recently, she became the Nurse Clinician with the Child Development Centre, responsible to interface patient care and process optimization for children newly diagnosed with complex developmental disabilities.
Early in her career, Suzanna noticed the negative impact that inequitable community supports has on child and family health and well-being. She answered this call-to-action by intersecting two fields that rarely mix: nursing and entrepreneurship. With support from the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Suzanna co-founded Enable, a social enterprise that creates meaningful partnerships between people with disabilities and post-secondary student support workers. Since its inception in 2016, Enable is rapidly expanding, currently employing 40 support workers who invest up to 1000 community hours each month.
The entrepreneurship space is male-dominated, but the tech-entrepreneurship space has even fewer women involved. Nevertheless, she persisted and trail-blazed for other women looking to pursue their ideas. When her male co-founder left within the first year of Enable’s inception, she was further challenged to continue into the male-dominated technology start-up space, but built a strong relationship within the entrepreneurship community in Calgary and on campus. Suzanne is recognized as a key entrepreneurial figure in nursing province-wide. Dr. Elizabeth Cannon appointed her as a representative at the US-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders and as a selection committee member to advise her on the hiring of the inaugural Executive Director of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking.
As a leader, Suzanna is innovative and a change agent. She has served in a number of advisory and board activities, including her current roles as director of Between Friends and the youngest member on the board of directors for Calgary Quest School. Suzanna is committed to activating the passion and imaginations of other students and nurses. She currently works as a graduate teaching assistant in the Faculty of Nursing and as a nursing instructor at Bow Valley College.
Last year, Suzanna and her fiancé reiterated their personal commitment to supporting those with disabilities by welcoming a young man with an intellectual disability and autism into their home. Her ability to balance the competing demands of her academic, professional and personal life truly exemplify her commitment to community activism, innovation and connecting people in compassionately.