Ruth Haire (30), from Derrycarne Road in Portadown, gave up her secure job to become a mature student at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) four years ago.
She is now in her final year of a degree course in Children’s Nursing.
The change of direction has more than paid off for her, having found a career she “absolutely loves”, and been offered a job at the Allen Ward in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
And a fortnight ago, Ruth and husband Johnny attended the 21st annual awards ceremony in the Culloden Hotel where she was revealed as the Northern Ireland winner.
There are over 700 nursing students from QUB, Ulster University and Open University who would have been eligible for the award, so winning is quite an achievement.
Ruth was nominated by her clinical mentor and fellow Portadown woman Doris Corkin, a senior lecturer at QUB in the School of Nursing and Midwifery.
She based her nomination not only on Ruth’s academic excellence but also the positive feedback from parents, children and mentors during her practice placements, as well as her voluntary work in Northern Ireland and internationally.
Said Doris, “Ruth has excelled throughout her nurse training and achieved highly, both academically and clinically. She is a great role model for all nursing students.”
The RCN judging panel observed how nursing is a calling for Ruth, not just a career. It also noted how she displays an international perspective and goes the extra mile to make a difference.
Ruth, who worships at Portadown Elim Church, feels her faith called her to nursing. Her husband said, “It is a big thing to give up your job but she felt everything would work out and it really has. We have had a lot of support from our families as well.”
The couple are going to Africa in September where Ruth will be doing some nursing work in an orphanage.