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What it Means to Give Back: Reece Bearnes
Growing up in rural Cape Breton, Reece Bearnes (BSc’08, MHA’10) recalls making annual family trips to Halifax, taking tours of Dal’s campus in junior high and achieving a personal goal of becoming a Dal student. As a teenager he volunteered at the local community hospital and healthcare was often a topic of dinner conversation at home. During his time at Dal what he didn’t expect was a discovery of a newfound passion: leadership. “I had the chance to take on positions such as teaching assistant, residence assistant, and council member which fueled my interest in leading others,” he says. With an interest in healthcare coupled with his newfound leadership passion, he knew the Master of Health Administration degree was the perfect fit!
During the first year of his Masters program, Reece had the opportunity to become a member of the student council. This gave him the chance to represent a group and bring forward ideas and challenges on their behalf. He recalls a mentor approaching him to ask if he would be interested in running for the presidential position the following year. “It was that gentle nudge that led me to apply and later become elected to the position. That experience taught me the importance of being engaged and involved in the Dalhousie community beyond the classroom, not only to contribute and give back but also to grow my own leadership potential. It made me appreciate the idea that each of us can play a role in helping motivate and support a loved one, friend, or colleague in achieving their best potential and challenge them to grow and learn,” he says.
Reece considers himself truly honoured to have had such amazing mentors throughout his student journey at Dal. During his program, he completed a residency at the IWK Health Center and a Fellowship at Capital Health¸ where he was mentored by exceptional health leaders, but also had the opportunity to connect with a broader group ofindividuals cross the country. “I truly benefited from these leaders who took a keen interest in my career and professional development. I owe so much to them for steering me in the right direction, sharing their own stories and learning from their career journey and collective years of experience in the industry,” he says.
Having had such positive mentorship experiences as a young leader, he understands the significant impact individuals can have on a student’s and young leader’s journey. “I believe that as leaders, we have a responsibility to mentor the next generation. I know many senior leaders who attribute part of their professional growth to the guidance of a patient mentor who challenged them to think differently and open their eyes and mind to different perspectives. This type of influence can have many positive and lasting effects, and I know that the ELEMENT program will be a terrific way to support students and emerging leaders in this way.
As a mentor in the School of Health Administration’s new ELEMENT Mentoring Program, Reece hopes, “that students will leave the program feeling inspired at their potential as a leader, truly appreciating the importance of playing an active role in their own development and growth. I hope students will develop lasting relationships that will steer and support their aspirations as leaders for many years to come.”
He feels that all alumni have been inspired and impacted by someone who has helped them move in the right direction towards a goal or personal accomplishment. He believes we all have a responsibility to give back and contribute to our community, including being mentors and role models for our ‘upcomers.’ “Serving as a mentor has its benefits for the leader as well,” he says. “Every mentee I’ve worked with has taught me something and contributed to my own growth and development. It truly is a two-way street and a mutually beneficial experience.”
“Giving back is about paying it forward. I was blessed by a number of individuals who took me under their wing and had a keen interest in my growth and development. Giving back for me is about recognizing that it is my time to step up and fill that role for a student, like so many have done for me in the past.”
As Clinical Director at The Ottawa Hospital, Reece works with a dedicated team that inspire him daily by their passion and the compassion by which they provide care. “It truly keeps you grounded…I can’t think of a better place to work," he says.
When asked what his future holds, Reece states he has truly found passion and joy in his career. “I will continue striving forward on my leadership journey and continue to reach towards my potential. I know mentoring will be a major part of my career, being both a mentor and mentee for many years to come!”
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