Thursday was a pretty exciting day for Ben Anderson, as the New Zealand native graduated from the Western Regional School of Nursing in Corner Brook.
But a more exciting day took place back in September, on the first day of his final year, when Anderson became a father.
Eight-month old Arran Anderson-White was all smiles and quickly became the centre of attention once the formalities were over at the school’s graduation and awards ceremony at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.
Just minutes before Anderson had been awarded the Western Regional Health Authority Fourth Year Academic Award.
Anderson said receiving the award, which is presented to the graduate with the highest academic average in nursing courses in the fourth year, was a great honour.
“I was very surprised. It’s been a tremendous year. There’s been a lot going on,” he said adding “obviously” as he glanced down at his son in his arms with his wife Meagan White standing nearby.
White is from Corner Brook and is a family medicine trainee at Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
The couple met while volunteering with people with developmental disabilities in Scotland. They’ve been married for almost four years.
After deciding to make Corner Brook their home, Anderson enrolled in the bachelor of nursing (collaborative) program that is run in conjunction with Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“My mum told me when I finished high school I should go into nursing. And I should have listened to her then,” he said.
“It took me a while to figure out.”
It was probably a natural choice for him as he’d been involved in care work at different levels and in different countries for some time.
“Nursing, I think, allows me to continue that care work in a more formalized profession.”
His fourth year was definitely a challenging and busy one as he juggled school and parenthood.
“Lots of good stuff going on,” he said with a laugh.
There were many a sleepless night with a newborn, but that didn’t seem to bother Anderson.
“He’s pretty cute.”
In fact, Anderson found a way to incorporate his studying with parenting by reading nursing text books to his son.
As tough as it was at times, Anderson said he had a lot of support from his wife, her family, his classmates and faculty.
He said the school was accommodating and supportive.
Being able to celebrate the day with his son was very special for him, and he also had some other guests in the audience who flew all the way from New Zealand.
His dad, Dr. Glenn Anderson, a general practitioner in Motueka, New Zealand, said he and his wife, Jane, promised their son four years ago that they would be here.
The two days of travel were well worth it to see him graduate and to receive the award.