“I want to help my community and society.”

At 6’6” it’s not surprising that Matthew Barr is a basketball player and a lifeguard. What might surprise you is to learn he’s studying Nursing at Vanier. But Matthew is full of surprises. Aft er graduating from FACE school in Montreal he headed down to Texas to study at the International ALERT Academy where he got his pilot’s license at the age of 17 and trained in first aid and advanced emergency response techniques.

He then spent the next two years doing volunteer work. He worked in various areas in the United States performing community service work and disaster relief. Then in January 2010, he boarded a disaster response Friend Ship to bring supplies to earthquake devastated Haiti.

“It was a life changing experience,” says Matthew. “I thought I’d seen a lot with some of the disaster relief efforts I’d worked on already, but Haiti was something else. Everyone I met had lost something or someone.”

While in Haiti he helped with translation and volunteered with paramedics in mobile clinics as well as in a private hospital where he worked in triage and the pharmacy. “I think Haiti triggered my desire to work in the medical field.” Indeed, when he returned for a second time to Haiti some months later, he worked in a burn clinic with an American nurse. There he cleaned and dressed injuries and saw many children with severe burns. He also met Doctor Pierre Paul-Duval, a general practitioner whose generous and selfless service to patients marked Matthew deeply.

When Matthew finally decided to go back to school he chose to study nursing. “Aft er Cegep I plan to get my Bachelor of Nursing at McGill. My goal is to eventually work in third world countries or in areas such as the far North where there is a shortage of medical personnel and combine my piloting and medical skills to help those in remote areas.”

“I also hope to go to Malawi on a Nursing internship exchange when I’m in my last year at Vanier.”

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