May 9, 2022

Leadership in nursing is recognized in annual, alumni-created award

The Mabbott Leadership Award encourages students to create their own research proposals that demonstrate leadership and highlight originality and creativity
Mabbott family with students
The Mabbott family with students at the UCalgary Nursing 2018 Donor Appreciation Evening.

Even though they pursued their graduate degrees elsewhere, two University of Calgary alumni continue to hold a special place in their hearts for their original alma mater.

That’s why Shelley Mabbott, BA’87, and her husband, Randy, BA’84, have launched a new award at UCalgary.

Thanks to a longstanding appreciation for health care, they chose the Faculty of Nursing as the focus of their charitable attention, establishing the Mabbott Leadership Project in 2019 to ignite student leadership and innovation.

Shelley once sat on the board of directors for the Calgary Health Region and Randy was assigned to Nursing as a member of the UCalgary Senate and is now on the Faculty of Nursing Community Advisory Committee to provide guidance and advice on local health-care and nursing needs.

Randy and Shelley Mabbott

Randy and Shelley Mabbott

“Education and health care are two areas that we're both very passionate about,” says Shelley. “Nurses are incredibly bright, educated, caring individuals who have so much to give to the profession. A lot of times, people can do very well academically, but what truly sets people apart are those with leadership who give back to the communities.”

The Dean of the Faculty of Nursing, Dr. Sandra Davidson, PhD, says "There has never been a more pressing need for nurse leaders that understand how to move systems forward; nurse leaders that can disrupt, challenge status quo and improve our health systems for patients and health-care providers.”

The Mabbott Leadership Project is awarded annually to one undergraduate nursing student. The award encourages students to create their own research proposals that demonstrate leadership and highlight originality and creativity, further developing their leadership skills.  

“My objective for the project was to develop core leadership skills in the field of nursing research,” says Hafsah Syed, BN’21, the award’s first undergraduate recipient, who is now a registered nurse at the Peter Lougheed Centre.

“The Mabbott Leadership Award acknowledges and validates that learning to be a leader is as important as any other nursing specialty,” says Davidson who in 2011, received her PhD in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University in Washington. “In fact, the impacts of a good nursing leader include improved patient safety and nurse retention. The influence of effective leaders can reduce burnout and improve the self-efficacy of nurses to make changes that improve our health systems.”

Hafsah Syed

Hafsah Syed

With the award, Syed initiated a qualitative research project to explore how the human-animal bond impacts the lives of people with chronic pain. She says nursing professor Dr. Eloise Carr, PhD, played a big role as her mentor for the project.

Syed says the opportunity encouraged her to utilize the information learned outside of academics and see the greater purpose and value of utilizing leadership skills in her academic and now professional career. “Gaining a deeper understanding of chronic pain, through leading an undergraduate research study, has empowered me to grow as a young leader in the field of healthcare,” she says.

The Mabbott Leadership Project and the Mabbott Family Graduate Scholarship in Nursing Leadership Award are both funded through an endowment and will continue to positively impact the academic careers of UCalgary nursing students indefinitely.

“It is wonderful to be involved with an incredible institution and to help students succeed by providing accessible leadership-focused research opportunities in the Faculty of Nursing,” says Shelley. “Nurses are really the backbone of our entire health system.”