For Tina Davoudbeiglou, a Registered Nurse at North York General Hospital and three-time winner of VHA Home HealthCare’s Head Start Scholarship, the inspiration for becoming a nurse was always right in front of her. “My mom raised me on her own after moving to Canada from Iran. When I was around seven years old, she went to university to become a nurse, with English as her second language—I’m endlessly proud of her,” said Tina. “She wanted to provide a better life not only for herself, but also for me.”
After graduating, Tina’s Mom Fatemeh started working full-time at North York General Hospital (NYGH) and later took a second job as a visiting nurse at VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) to help pay off her student loans, support her family and to extend her nursing skills into home care.
“As a child I remember my mom coming home at the end of a long shift and talking about how rewarding her job was, even though there were hard days. She genuinely loves helping other people and is proud to be able to use her knowledge and expertise in such a positive way,” Tina said.
Tina was never pressured to go into the nursing field, but when she was pursuing post-secondary education, nursing just felt like the right fit. “My mom is my role model and her passion clearly rubbed off on me. Being able to help other people and make a lasting impact is what nursing is all about and what makes it such a unique profession,” she said.
In 2015, Tina started applying to universities and was accepted into Ryerson’s Collaborative Nursing Degree Program. Determined to put herself through school, when the costs associated with a university education—from tuition, to books, to living expenses—started to inevitably add up, Tina heard about VHA’s Head Start Scholarship. The scholarship program is open to children of VHA staff and service providers who are pursing post-secondary studies. Since launching in 2012, VHA has granted $240,000 in scholarships. Each year, VHA’s Head Start Scholarship awards 20 deserving students that demonstrate success both in school and in the community with $1,500 of support for any accredited Canadian college or university.
Tina’s impressive academic record, considerable volunteer efforts and passion for her future career made her an ideal candidate and she was ultimately awarded the scholarship for three consecutive years. “This was the first scholarship that I applied for as a student and I never thought I would be successful. The Head Start Scholarship gave me the confidence to apply for more grants, use my voice in other ways and opened a lot of doors for me,” said Tina. “And of course, being able to focus on my studies, pursue my dreams and reach my goals with less financial worry, was such a relief.”
“As an organization that is centred around caregiving, supporting staff, service providers and their children—like Fatemah and Tina—to achieve their full potential, naturally aligns with the value VHA places on our workers and their families,” said Kelley Myers, Vice-President of Human Resources & Organizational Development at VHA.
After graduating in 2019, Tina now works at the In-Patient Orthopaedic Unit at North York General Hospital—just one floor away from her mom. “Even though we’re in different departments, I’m so lucky to work in the same environment as my mom. Whenever I have questions, she’s there to offer her input and advice and I know I can always go to her after a difficult shift because she understands and appreciates how stressful nursing can be,” Tina said.
Since starting at NYGH, Tina has become a valued member of the Orthopaedic Surgery team. “Tina has a positive attitude, is able to be both assertive and collaborative, and as a novice nurse, she isn’t afraid to ask questions or solve problems,” said Valeria Thompson, Clinical Team Manager of Surgical Services at NYGH. “She communicates well with patients and their families and is a strong advocate for patient care.”
Tina is a wonderful ambassador of the Head Start Scholarship Program and in the company of a new generation of supportive, engaged individuals ready to make a positive impact on the world.
Each year, VHA’s Head Start Scholarship awards 20 deserving students that demonstrate success both in school and in the community with $1,500 financial support for studies at any accredited Canadian college or university. In response to COVID-19, with many students and families needing help more than ever, VHA has expanded this program to reach 30 students this year.