“Literally the Only Thing Keeping Me Alive Was Being in School”

Jane Dantes
"This was life-changing for me and my whole family. I don’t know if donors truly understand the difference they are making in people’s lives. I would have never been able to go to Queen’s without the funding opportunities that were provided,"

When Jane van de Ven-Dantes, MSc’15, started studying at Queen’s as a mature student in 2011, her health was so poor she was unable to hold a pen. She was a bedside nurse for 16 years before a car accident in 2010 left her physically unable to do her job. Along with her physical challenges, the mother of three battled anxiety and depression as she worried about how she was going to take care of her family.

“Literally the only thing keeping me alive was being in school, because that was the only thing supporting my mental health. Studying gave me a purpose,” said Ms. Dantes. “My whole identity was shattered after the accident. I was devastated because being a bedside nurse was who I was.”

Fortunately, Ms. Dantes’ story has a happy ending, as she was able to overcome the physical, mental, and financial obstacles and get her Master’s degree in nursing from Queen’s. Today she is healthier and loving her new managerial nursing job at Providence Care Hospital in Kingston.

Financial support and bursaries helped her overcome a very dark period in her life. When asked what she would say to the donors who support students like her going through tough times, she gets emotional and has to fight back tears.

“This was life-changing for me and my whole family. I don’t know if donors truly understand the difference they are making in people’s lives. I would have never been able to go to Queen’s without the funding opportunities that were provided,” says Ms. Dantes.

Ms. Dantes’ loss of job income had a significant effect on her family. She applied to Queen’s knowing she would need financial support to graduate. She eventually sold her home and moved her family in with her mother while studying.

Ms. Dantes reached out for help and the Queen’s community responded. She was able to start her education because of the Robert Sutherland Fellowship and was also supported by the Alumni Scholarship for Nursing Graduate Students, and the Queen’s Graduate Award. One of the people she met was Carole Morrison, director of the Ban Righ Centre, an organization supporting mature female students at Queen’s.

The centre was a source of both emotional and financial support. Together they identified bursary options that apply to her situation, and eventually Ms. Dantes received the Diane McKenzie Award and the Helen Bracken Anderson Bursary.

“Mature women with families face unique challenges when coming to Queen’s. It is very rewarding to hear from alumnae like Jane that the Ban Righ Centre had a positive impact not only on them, but also on their families,” says Ms. Morrison. “Staff members at the Ban Righ Centre provide encouragement and support, but the women students themselves persevere, surmount barriers, and create their own futures.”

Ms. Dantes now dedicates her professional time to her job at Providence Care managing Clinical Nurse Educators and supporting the Standards of Practice for nursing care. She says her Master’s degree was a key factor in her professional success.

“I am happy and I am finally in a really good place,” said Ms. Dantes.

If you would like to support students like Ms. Dantes, please visit the Ban Righ website to make an online donation.