Margaret De Jager

Margaret De Jager

What education have you taken?

In 2010, I graduated from Luther College High in Regina, Saskatchewan. Upon graduation, I studied Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. I graduated with a BA in Psychology and worked in Saskatoon for two years. In 2017, I started attending Brandon University. I am currently in my 3rd year of a BSc in Psychiatric Nursing and will graduate in 2021.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I am grateful for all of the volunteer opportunities I have had in my life. I have been a mentor with the Student Refugee Program at BU, and I am the current President of BU WUSC. I am proud of the events that my team and I have been able to run at BU, including raising awareness around the importance of women in education and spreading overall messages of equality.

In the past, I have worked with Save the Rhino Trust Namibia, focusing on rhino conservation. This experience is where my love for community partnership started as I worked with local communities towards a common goal of wildlife protection. I worked alongside wildlife protection officers tracking, documenting rhinos, and other wildlife along the south-west coast of Africa.

I often feel like I got a late start on my academic achievements; however, I am grateful that I have found a program that I am very dedicated to and passionate about. I am proud to have made the Dean’s Honor List in 2019. In addition, in 2019, I was honored to be the recipient of the Dr. Jose & Mrs. Ruth Vasconcelos Scholarships in Psychiatric Nursing and the Reesor’s Jewellery Award. It is a great honor to be recognized for my academic achievements and to be nominated for Women’s Week. It is something that I will always cherish.

Give a brief bio about yourself/ your background/ your history.

I currently reside in Brandon, although I have never been stationary for long. I was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and my family immigrated to Canada in 1997. I spent my childhood in Regina and enjoyed playing sports, including volleyball and basketball throughout high school. I also spent many hours on the farm with my horses. After high school, I moved to Saskatoon, where I lived for 8 years. I love Saskatoon dearly, and that is where I did a lot of growing up and growing into who I am today. After I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, I did not know where to go from there. I was lucky to have worked for a local business named Hardpressed and to have been surrounded by people who encouraged me to find my passion. Seeing other people immersed and pursuing their passions, I decided to follow my own. This led me to Psychiatric Nursing. I took a leap of faith and moved to Brandon with the help of my family and my heart dog, Zeppelin. In 2019, I started working as a research assistant for Dr. Rachel Herron with a focus on Indigenous men’s mental health. The opportunity to further my learning through research has been incredible.

I love spending time with my family and friends and my dog. I also enjoy traveling, reading, spinning, and yoga. My favourite memories with my family have been made at our cabin in British Columbia or traveling on dirt roads through southern Africa. I am at my happiest when I am by a river, lake, or ocean, with my partner and my dog.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

Growing up, I was inspired by my father and my mother, who were both in the health care field. I knew I wanted to help people, but I did not know where this would lead me. Throughout my psychology degree, I became increasingly interested in mental health and the need for health care professionals within that space. Having struggled with my own mental health illnesses throughout my early twenties, I grew to understand the positive impact that support and understanding can have. These experiences have shaped who I am today and have led me to my chosen career path. My goal as a Psychiatric Nurse will always be to provide my clients with compassion, kindness, and the utmost respect.

What is your philosophy in life?

Throughout my life, many people have helped guide me on my journey. I am grateful to the people who have shared their stories with me, provided me with light and love, and taught me about their perspectives and experiences. I would not be where I am today without the knowledge that others have offered me.

I believe in the importance of compassion and kindness. When we show others compassion, we allow ourselves to see past our judgements. When we come from a place of genuine kindness, we create space for beautiful connections to occur. Compassion is to grasp the idea that we do not always have to understand why someone is hurting; we just have to be able to give them a safe place to land.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

The future can be daunting, but I am very much looking forward to it. When I have completed my BScPN, I hope to jump right into my career as a Psychiatric Nurse. Once I have gained clinical experience and found my home within the profession, I plan to continue to pursue my education by earning a Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Nursing. My ideal future also includes settling down with my partner, raising a family, having two dogs, and spending time with our extended families. I am working hard to create a life of balance for myself, and I hope the future is ready for me to do it all.

Nominator’s Comments:

Margaret de Jager is a third year Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing Student.  She is an honor roll student, a Research Assistant and an active volunteer in the University Community. She excels in all her roles and manages to include others in her social justice initiatives across campus.  Her pride in her own culture, her knowledge of the importance of inclusion and her empathy enables her to shine in all of the roles she embodies. She is an undergraduate student, and with very limited research experience she has excelled in her role as a Research Assistant and will have a few publications, reports and presentations under her belt in the near future.  She is a mentor and a positive role model for her peers.  She embodies the important characteristics of a psychiatric nurse and many of us are very excited to see where her career and her studies will take her.