Phyllis Lewis

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in Tributes |


A Community Project to honour women who have enriched our lives

The Ban Righ Centre supports mature women who are starting or returning to education at Queen’s University. In taking this significant step, these women found role models, advocates and inspiration in other women. Then, as they engage in their studies and in their activities beyond Queen’s with friends, family, peers and colleagues, these students effect continual and positive change, extending the reach of their mentors and the Ban Righ Centre. Through “Who Is She?” we honour women who make a difference.

Phyllis Lewis

By Jan Linscott in Honor

Learning about the Ban Righ Foundation’s “Who is She” project brought back fond memories of returning to school in the mid 80’s at the age of 35 to pursue undergrad studies. I immediately felt comfortable at the Centre from the day I first entered the building. The first guidance I received was to begin with career counselling and be certain, already and RPN, that an undergrad degree was what I really wanted. I was working full-time and raising a child on my own, as well as juggling evening studies to obtain my grade 13 certification. My immediate family was hundreds of miles away in Northern Ontario. Being able to attend brown bag lunches and engage in conversations with woman like myself over the comfort of a bowl of hot soup, I found an enormous source of strength.

Fortunately, in 1986, during my first year as an undergraduate, I met Phyllis Lewis, a professor in the School of Nursing. Phyllis became my mentor and sage advisor at a time when a career in gerontological nursing was not viewed within healthcare as a glamorous profession. Phyllis believed in me and was always there for me when I felt down or was struggling. She had a way questioning that made me think about what I was seeking and where I was going. Although I moved out of town after graduation, Phyllis and I remained connected through the years by attending and presenting at Conferences. When I returned to Kingston in 2001, our teacher-student relationship blossomed into a colleague to colleague one by way of my having an opportunity to co-teach a Queen’s course on Aging with Phyllis. We have graduated from teacher-student to advisor-advisee to colleagues and now have the pleasure also of a memorable friendship in which we share the joys of outdoor travels and discoveries.

My nursing career has come full circle. I have begun teaching nursing part-time. I could not ask for more than the experience of teaching nurses and thus to influence humanity in so many ways. “Who is She?” She is Phyllis Lewis, the woman who fuelled my passion for nursing and shaped my practice. I honour Phyllis and am happy to contribute to ‘the little house with a big heart’, for assisting me in embarking on this adventure.