“Those bursaries allowed me to breathe for a minute."
Kim Banfield has one of those quiet job titles that obscure what she really does: touch the lives of almost everyone in BC.
The Royal Roads University graduate turned her Master of Arts in Leadership-Health to a career working for the Provincial Health Services Authority where she is a project leader with BC Emergency Health Services, overseeing patient and staff safety.
What that really means is she is part of a team of managers who review emergency medical response. They ask the hard question: Is there something that could be done differently to ensure a better outcome for patients? If the answer is yes, they improve the system. Banfield then becomes one of the team that makes those changes happen, ensuring frontline emergency medical professionals have the guidance, training and support to adopt new procedures.
She says it’s rewarding work.
“We’re genuinely helping people—everyone’s family needs emergency services at some point,” Banfield says. “And the courses I did on change management have been essential. We’re often trying to change [work] cultures that are deeply entrenched.”
But the road to graduation in September 2015 and the job she loves was as hard as it was rewarding. Banfield, a full-time single parent, had wanted to return to school for almost a decade but waited until her sons were teenagers, old enough to understand and appreciate their Mom’s commitment. It was a financial stretch, yet she knew she was capable of a more senior leadership role and that she had little choice but to upgrade her education if she wanted to grow both professionally and personally.
On paper, she appeared to be in excellent financial shape. She owned a home and had a steady job. But she says it was a tough two years—the busiest of her life—that would have been much tougher without the three alumni-funded bursaries she received.
“I was living paycheque to paycheque,” she recalls, as she added the cost of school to raising two football-playing kids on her own.
“Those bursaries allowed me to breathe for a minute. They meant that I could put that $1,000 towards my tuition and maybe spend a little more on groceries that month.”
But the 16-hour days came with some unexpected joys. The daily commute with the boys between home in Shawnigan Lake and her work in downtown Victoria took between two and three hours which meant they didn’t have dinner before 8 p.m. and they all had homework after that. But it gave them time to talk, which is something her sons say they miss now that they live closer to town.
“They told me about what they were doing in school, and I told them what I was learning,” she says. “My boys have always known that education is valuable—that it opens doors. And my sons were exceptional when I was studying or working all night on an assignment; they were the most supportive people in my life.”
The grad school venture worked out so well for Banfield that she can even see a day when she will be among the alumni contributing to the bursaries that helped change her life.
“The bursaries I received really lifted some of the stress. If there was a chance I could help a new student take the plunge and give them the opportunity to succeed I wouldn’t hesitate to make that happen.”
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