A better future starts with empowered nurses and student caregivers

McGill24 is back on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, for its ninth edition. On this day, gifts to the University go further by combining with others to achieve even more for our students and researchers. Read on to find out about two student-led initiatives to look out for on McGill24 as McGillians across the globe unite to create healthier and more sustainable futures for all.
Image by Owen Egan / Joni Dufour.

On Wednesday, March 13, McGill University will be celebrating its ninth annual day of giving, McGill24. All around the world, McGillians rally around this 24-hour digital fundraiser and join forces to support students, teaching and research. 

In 2023, a record-breaking $4.4 million was raised, contributing to life-changing opportunities for students and faculty—and showcasing the power of collective giving as the McGill community gathers in support of causes that create real change, at home and around the world. 

This year, building on their past success, our students are once again set to garner philanthropic support towards initiatives that build a better tomorrow. 

FMHS Focus spoke with ambassadors of two of the participating student groups to learn more about what McGill24 can help them achieve. 

Nurses' Wellness Week: celebrating and empowering nurses  

Launched in 2022 by the Nursing Graduate Student Association (NGSA) at the Ingram School of Nursing (ISoN) to recognize nursing graduates balancing study with frontline patient care during the pandemic, Nurses’ Wellness Week has expanded into a respected initiative advocating for nurses’ wellness at McGill, all while recognizing the key contributions of nurses to the health ecosystem. “We wanted to encourage an environment that really promotes wellness, makes sure that everyone feels valued in their profession and recognized for their hard work,” explains Sydney Wasserman (BScN’21, MSc(A)’23, PhD’27) and NGSA co-Vice-President Academic (Doctoral). 

Nurses’ Wellness Week is aligned with National Nursing Week (6-12 May 2024) and will offer students the opportunity to engage in activities that support their mental and physical well-being. In the past, this has included mind-body activities such as yoga, artistic projects such as paint nights, and the pursuit of new knowledge through American Sign Language classes. Gift baskets and self-care packages are also distributed and, this year, the NGSA hopes to include networking events and workshops with peers and nursing leaders. For Camilo Sierra (BSc’18, MSc(A)’24), President of the NGSA, Nurses’ Wellness Week is an opportunity to highlight the different roles nurses play in the healthcare community: “We work at the bedside, in public policy, research, and other leadership areas that the general public doesn’t know about. It’s great to be able to showcase these aspects of nursing.”

Nursing students holding McGill24 swag
Image by Owen Egan.
Camilo Sierra, Sydney Wasserman and Arina Maria Nogai hope that Nurses' Wellness Week will support the mental well-being of fellow nursing graduates.

Nurses’ Wellness Week has had a transformational impact on ISoN students, as illustrated by their increased attendance over the years. “Initially, this initiative was a chance to provide a safe and interactive space for our graduate students. We would come together to network, share our knowledge and expertise, and get the emotional support that was needed. It has now become a movement that redefines nursing and embraces leadership opportunities to portray our profession in a brighter light,” explains Arina Maria Nogai (BSc’22), a student in the Nursing Administration Program (MSc’24) and NGSA Vice-President Communications. Involved in the initiative since day one, Nogai has witnessed firsthand the impact it has had on the student body. “It's become an advocacy initiative for higher education and representation in the field of nursing,” she says. 

This year, the NGSA is hoping to raise $1,500 for Nurses’ Wellness Week on McGill24. Donations to this initiative will help a steadily growing number of nursing students nurture sustainable wellness practices beyond graduation, empowering them to foster healthier and more vibrant work environments and inspiring the next generation of nurses to continue to advocate for themselves. “We always fight for our patients—it's time that we fight for ourselves as well,” says Wasserman. 

Win4Science: supporting caregiver grads in STEM 

Simran Dhir is a Master of Science student in Pharmacology and Therapeutics (thesis) in the Ribeiro-da-Silva Lab for Research on Pain. In addition to her research, which focuses on neuropathic pain, Dhir is the Head of Operations of Win4Science, an initiative launched by Prof. Lisa Münter in 2017 to address the barriers women and minorities face in academia. “It started as a group advocating for women in science,” Dhir explains, “but we are trying our best to branch out and be more inclusive: how can we provide support to people who might be looking for, say, how to be a queer woman in science? How to be a person of colour and still be queer and be in the sciences?” 

Win4Science offers many opportunities for students to connect with peers and mentors through workshops, mentorship programmes, and a spotlight series featuring prominent women researchers who share their stories and advice with members. “Our job is to spread awareness,” says Dhir. “We also highlight the lack of resources and petition in the hope of driving change.” 

In 2022, Win4Science expanded and established its  Caregiver Travel Awards, making the most of McGill24 to raise funds in support of STEM trainees who are also primary caregivers of children, parents or grandparents. These awards are designed to alleviate the financial pressures placed on student caregivers as they progress in their careers: too often, they struggle to ensure their loved ones are taken care of while they pursue academic commitments such as conferences or other speaking engagements. The Caregiver Travel Awards are designed to help with the additional caretaking and travel costs these trainees require while they travel for work, trying to level the playing field for STEM graduates and postgraduates with caregiving responsibilities. 

This year, Dhir and her team, pictured above, are hoping to raise $15,000 on McGill24. “With more money, we can increase the chances of student caregivers being able to overcome the difficulties they face and attend their conferences,” Dhir stresses. The awards, which range from $250 to $1000 per applicant, have already supported six student caregivers and made a significant difference in their career progression.  

Win4Science has received positive feedback from applicants: “This is a great initiative for moms in STEM!” says one, while another shares that “Graduate students who have families are at a clear disadvantage compared to their peers. I can imagine that this is even more so for women, unfortunately, due to social norms, so awards and initiatives like this are highly appreciated.”

On McGill24, contributions to FMHS student-led fundraisers that are made on March 13 will be eligible for matching gifts, effectively amplifying your impact.

Student-led initiatives you can support include: 

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