June 7, 2017
Philanthropic explorer's drive for discovery fueled by passion for education
Agnes Cooke is a philanthropic explorer bent on discovering different and unfunded territory. The lively octogenarian has supported projects from midwifery to music to machinery for the brain that shows not only how the brain is structured, but exactly how it is working — mainly because no one has gone there before. She also funded two undergraduate scholarships* and a doctoral award within the Faculty of Nursing.
“I want to help new research and projects where I can; I want to make inroads in the areas where there is real promise, but where people may be struggling because an idea is new and different,” says the former registered nurse.
Her drive for discovery is fueled by a passion for education, a pursuit that has been life-long. An ongoing curiosity of all things brain related — stem cell imagery really excites her — led her to Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF) where her generosity contributed to the hospital’s acquisition of a 3Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (3T MRI) scanner that will help transform pediatric diagnostic imaging.
And that brought her to Nursing’s Karen Benzies, whose program of research involves early childhood development.
“That’s where we need to start, that’s where the need is the greatest — when children are young,” says Agnes, whose gift assisted a PhD student, over a three year period, working with Benzies’ team.
Of her tours of the faculty’s Clinical Simulation Learning Centre, Agnes says the visits gave her insight into how nursing education today can prepare a student for almost any scenario they may see in the real world.
“By comparison, we didn’t know boom-all when I was in school. I think the big change from when I was a nurse is that today, students are just so much more prepared than we were.”
In 2008, she received the City of Calgary’s Outstanding Calgary Seniors Award for volunteerism. She has never lost her enthusiasm for the profession or the field of health care, evidenced by the impact her foundation (The Stephanson Cooke Family Foundation) has had with organizations like the ACHF.
“What gets me really excited is going beyond what we know; I want to explore what is different and new. In my position, I am very fortunate to be able to support all the things I am passionate about.”
*The Donald and Agnes Cooke Nursing Scholarships, established in August 2012, offers two scholarships of $1,000 each to continuing undergraduate students in the degree holder route.
On June 22, 2017, the Faculty of Nursing is hosting a Donor Appreciation Evening at Hotel Alma to celebrate donors like Agnes Cook for their extraordinary philanthropic support for nursing students.