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Best in program reap rewards

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 06/06) - You can make $2,500 go a long way. When you are a student, you can make it go even farther.

Four nurses at Arctic College have received $2,500 each for being the best in their program.

Health and Social Services Minister Leona Aglukkaq was on hand at the college for one of the most pleasant tasks a cabinet minister can have: handing out cheques.

The nurses received the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship, which was founded by the health department following the 2002 visit of the Queen.

"This scholarship recognizes excellence in academic studies by Inuit nursing students. It is so important to us all to see Inuit nurses active in our health system," said Aglukkaq.

"I'll put it aside. I have two kids myself and I may spend a couple of hundred bucks on presents," said Susie Nakushuk, a second-year nursing student from Iqaluit.

Nakushuk is happy she chose nursing as a career, despite the long hours and hard work.

"It is challenging and it is interesting. English is my second language and learning medicine is like learning a third language," said Nakushuk.

Sherry Katsuk-Parks is a third-year nursing student from Pond Inlet, and she wants to work there.

"That is where my mom's family is from, and my husband and I want to get back. I lived there for a couple of years and the people gave me so much, I want to give something back," said Katsuk-Parks.

As for the money, Katsuk-Parks said, "It will help with lots of things."

Charlotte Zawadski, a fourth-year student from Rankin Inlet, sees the importance of offering medical services in Inuktitut.

"They (patients) are very shocked when I start speaking Inuktitut to them. Their faces light up, and they will talk about how they are really feeling," said Zawadski.

Sharon Owlijoot, a third-year student from Arviat, has a very practical use for her $2,500.

"I'm going to use it to get back to Arviat for Christmas," said an excited Owlijoot.

There are 29 students enroled in the Arctic College four-year nursing degree program. Just over half of the students are land claims beneficiaries, and nine nurses have graduated to date.