Kim, Theresa and Moira
Three generations of McColl nurses, from left: Her granddaughter Kim Cockburn, Theresa McColl, and her daughter Moira McColl. Courtesy McColl family

Jan. 20, 2022

Like 100-year-old donor, once you are a nurse, you are a nurse for life

Longtime UCalgary philanthropist Theresa McColl celebrates milestone birthday Jan. 20

A University of Calgary donor who has had a long-standing impact on many aspiring nurses turns 100 on Jan. 20.

Theresa (Terry) McColl was born in Austria and came to Canada as a young child. She grew up in southern Alberta and completed nursing school at Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary in 1945. She actively worked as a nurse for around five years.

Although her career was cut short after having children, McColl continued as an active member in the community and volunteered in the realm of nursing and social services.

Once a nurse, always a nurse

There is a saying, “Once a nurse, always a nurse.” McColl’s nursing experience has followed her throughout her life.

According to her daughter, Moira McColl, one of the many volunteer activities Theresa participated in was providing programs and activities for young mothers and their children with the YWCA. During summer camps, McColl would often work as a camp nurse.

“I would describe Mom as a lifetime learner. She had a full life of meaningful volunteer experiences, focused on helping others,” says Moira.

John and Terry McColl Bursary

McColl has been a UCalgary donor since 1997, and, through her efforts, the John and Terry McColl Nursing Bursaries were officially established in 2010 and are to run for 15 years. The bursaries, valued at $2,500 each, are offered annually to four undergraduate students entering their third or fourth year in the Faculty of Nursing.

John McColl, Theresa’s husband of more than 40 years, passed away in 1987. The bursaries represent their recognition of the significant contributions made to society by the nursing profession.

Dedication to nursing profession

Theresa is committed to offering the opportunity of higher education to those who work hard and need financial support. Moira says this resonates with her mother’s own background as she did not come from money. Just as much as she is devoted to helping aspiring nurses achieve their goals, she enjoys hearing from nursing student recipients each year.

Theresa’s ongoing connection and devotion to the nursing profession has been passed down from generation to generation. The McColl family now has three generations of nurses: Theresa, her daughter, Moira, and her granddaughter, Kim Cockburn.

“She was very proud to be a nurse and believes nursing is a very noble and worthwhile profession,” says Moira. “She very much wants to help young people who have chosen nursing as a career and have worked diligently to succeed — in particular, those who are financially disadvantaged. This is the basis of the John and Terry Nursing Bursary. She got great joy from knowing her many small bursaries made a difference to so many aspiring nurses.”

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