Small Class Sizes Make a Big Difference for South-Central Grads

May 31, 2018
Vanessa Sido and Kate Palfrey
School of Nursing graduates Vanessa Sido (left) and Kate Palfrey both spoke at the South-Central regional celebration.

Vanessa Sido and Kate Palfrey come from different generations and grew up half a world apart, yet both credit the nursing program at the University of Northern British Columbia’s South-Central campus in Quesnel with inspiring them to become leaders.

Sido is from Lagos, Nigeria and came to Canada six years ago with the dream of getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Palfrey is from Quesnel and came to the Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program as a mature student.

On Thursday, they celebrated with their classmates, family and friends. They reflected on what brought them to UNBC and what lies ahead.

For Sido, it was a recommendation from a friend who had attended UNBC and raved about the quality of education. Four years on, she understands why UNBC is one of Canada’s top-ranked small universities.

“I like the smaller campus because it’s more personable,” she says. “You’re able to get know the instructors and the instructors know you.”

Palfrey did not need to travel nearly as far as Sido, but her journey to UNBC was just as circuitous. She came to nursing as a second career, after owning her own family business in Quesnel. With roots in the community, she didn’t want to leave the Cariboo and with a background in biomedical studies, the nursing program was a perfect fit.

“I think UNBC is a phenomenal asset for our community,” she says. “It enables us to always have a strong nursing group here in Quesnel. If you go to school here, you want to stay here.”

Nursing students in Quesnel are able to complete all four years of their degree on one campus, shared by two institutions. The first two years of the program are offered by the College of New Caledonia and the final two years are offered by UNBC.

With small class sizes – this year 19 nursing students graduated – the cohort became a close-knit community. They are able to support each other as the work through their class assignments and their clinical placements.

“You get to know everyone and you get to know a little bit about everyone’s story,” Sido says. “Because we’re a small class, we know everyone’s sense of humour and we’re able to laugh.”

Both Sido and Palfrey are going to begin their careers working as nurses in Northern B.C. Palfrey is looking forward to using the knowledge she gained in the classroom to help care for others in her community.

“We’ve been lucky to have great clinical experiences, but we’ve always had our preceptor there or our faculty member there with us,” she says. “Now it’s time for us to go out and stand on our own two feet and gain that experience for ourselves.”