Ruth Baker, 23, is studying Practical Nursing part-time at Georgian’s Muskoka Campus. Ruth, who grew up in Bracebridge and was originally interested in culinary arts, was home-schooled until the age of 12. She was the head baker at a famous butter tart eatery in Muskoka in her last two years of high school. While in college studying culinary management, she worked in Jasper, Alberta, as a pastry cook over the summers.
Ruth still loves cooking and baking, but when she returned home two years ago she realized she wanted to change her career direction.
Why did you decide to take the Practical Nursing program? I knew I needed a change; I saw an opportunity in nursing and didn’t hesitate to take it. I believed, in the long run, nursing would be a great challenging career for me that would also give me the opportunity to grow. I was already working in long-term care as a food service worker, and I knew I had the capabilities and empathy needed to work in health care. I also quickly became aware of the issues in our health care system and wanted to be an advocate for the people affected by them. I’d found a new passion for helping people.
How do you balance work and studies? I currently work part-time as a personal support worker (PSW), but it can lean toward full-time depending on the week. Being a PSW and a nursing student, taking care of my own health is key to keeping myself balanced. I always make time for going to the gym and cooking myself large batches of healthy meals. Keeping myself organized is helpful as well, but a healthy lifestyle really keeps me full of energy.
What advice would you offer other students who have gone back to school for a career change? Take care of yourself first, and just keep reaching for one small goal at a time… you will get there!
How is Georgian helping you succeed as a student? I was able to land a PSW position due to references that were kindly offered by two of my professors who are also practising Registered Nurses: Tanya Young and Terri Burton. I’m very thankful to both of them.
Where would you like to work after graduation? I would love to work in a hospital. I like the idea of working at the core of our health-care system and understanding more about the issues we’re facing. Eventually, I would love to enter politics and run in an election. I want to understand multiple perspectives, not only in our health-care system, but in my own community. Having a view of the big picture is crucial as a politician, and that starts at the grassroots, in the community.
You’re very passionate about seniors’ issues. What inspires that passion? Since I was a kid, I’ve had two very influential figures in my life. First is my mom. She ran in a provincial election in Muskoka when I was 12, and since then politics has always been part of my life. She overcame her biggest fear of public speaking to become a politician because she was so passionate about the issues she was fighting for. My mom was always making sure my sister and I understood the issues in the world by talking to us about them and teaching us to be empathetic.
The other influential person was my grandmother who taught me a lot about seniors’ issues and started bringing me to the local food bank to volunteer when I was nine years old. That gave me a good perspective very early on about the reality of how people live in our community. I remember feeling surprised to see so many seniors who had nothing; as a kid, you assume everyone grows up and has a happy life. Working in long-term care, and seeing the issues there first hand, really spiked my passion, but I have always been aware. Seniors’ issues concern everyone. We will all get older, if we’re fortunate, and those issues will still be there unless someone makes a difference.
How did you get involved with Daughters of the Vote? My mom found out about the opportunity for Daughters last fall. I looked into it and applied. Daughters of the Vote, which is run by Equal Voice, picked one woman between the ages of 18 to 23 to represent their federal riding in Ottawa. I was selected to represent the Muskoka-Parry Sound federal riding in the House of Commons. Twenty-three of us out of 336 were selected to speak in the House based on the issues we wanted to bring forward. I chose long-term care. It was a riveting experience that reinforced my passion for making a positive impact and being an advocate.
Why is being politically active important to you? It’s important for me to make a difference in more than just my own life. I see voting as the first step toward having a voice in my community, and I try to educate as many people as I can – especially young people, to do the same. It’s not just about one person being politically active; everyone needs to know that the only way we can all make a difference is to vote.
Watch a clip of Ruth speaking in the House of Commons about her passion for long-term care.
Are you registered to vote? Visit Elections Canada to find out what you need to do in order to vote in this year’s federal election slated for Oct. 21.