Sylwia BorawskiNursing student and Governor General Award recipient Sylwia Borawski credits personal experience for her academic journey.

Governor General’s Silver Medallist plans to pay it forward

At 13 years old, Sylwia Borawski received an unexpected diagnosis that would change her life.

As her doctor explained that she had Type 1 Diabetes, little did Borawski realize that the care she was to receive from an emergency room nurse and hospital staff would influence her scholarly journey and help fuel her drive for academic excellence.

Today, the BScN graduand will be honoured at Convocation with the Governor General Silver Medal, given annually to an outstanding graduating honours student on the basis of academic performance. In addition, Borawski is receiving the Board of Governors Medal in nursing, a feat she accomplished in 2021 and 2022.

“It comes as no surprise that Sylwia is receiving this recognition,” says Debbie Sheppard- LeMoine, dean of the Faculty of Nursing. “Over the years, Sylwia has demonstrated a passion for knowledge, leadership, and penchant for research. She’s beloved by her peers because she genuinely cares for others, and we are thrilled she is capping her undergraduate experience with these honours.”

Borawski humbly views her accomplishments as a combination of family encouragement, personal drive, the Faculty of Nursing’s support system, and that life-altering moment in the hospital in February 2014.

“The compassionate care I received by nurses during my hospital stay inspired me to pay it forward as a future nurse myself,” says Borawski. “I still remember how the ER nurse took the time to sit with my parents and draw on the bedsheets to explain how exogenous insulin would work in my body as I received a life-long treatment.”

A first-generation student, Borawski credits her parents with making significant personal and professional sacrifices, immigrating to Canada to provide the opportunities she was able to enjoy.

“They instilled a strong work ethic in me from a young age and always taught me to help others if I was able to, and nursing, in the simplest terms, is all about helping others through their most vulnerable times,” she adds.

Assistant professor and NP clinical placement co-ordinator Gina Pittman points out that Borawski, an Outstanding Scholar and student peer mentor, will be a welcome addition to the nursing profession because she is naturally composed, patient, caring, and compassionate.

For Borawski, her experience is coming full circle.

“In looking back at my journey personally and academically and applying it to the future, if I can make this kind of difference in even one patient’s life, I will feel like I have made meaningful impact,” says Borawski.

Convocation continues through Friday at the Toldo Lancer Centre; tune in to view the livestream of each session at

—Gam Macasaet

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