• ${_EscapeTool.xml($altText)}

Anne Kendrew

Nominee, 2020 Alumni Achievement Awards
Diploma in Nursing, 1969


Photo of Anne Kendrew.

Through her decades of work as a nurse in maternal child care, Anne Kendrew has helped improve the health and well-being of thousands of Albertan families.


Did you know that a proud MRU alumna helped change the way mothers and infants are cared for today?

Anne Kendrew (née Porter) has been a pioneer throughout her nursing career, starting with being one of 25 students out of hundreds of applicants accepted to Mount Royal College’s first two-year nursing program in 1967. At the time it was the only program in Western Canada to be offered by an educational institution instead of a hospital.

In the early years of her career, the world had entirely different views on maternal and infant care. Back then, parents weren’t able to hold their newborn infants right away. And if the newborn or infant was given a terminal diagnosis, the accepted practice was not to allow parents to hold them at all. “The belief at the time was that you could not grieve a dream,” Kendrew remembers.

With quiet determination and persistence, Kendrew began to change this. She played a leading role in advocating for two programs that are now part of standard maternal child care across Canada.

The first was for perinatal bereavement support in the face of infant death. She, alongside other nurses and educators, worked for years to advocate for a different approach. It was started at Holy Cross Hospital, and after a city symposium with hundreds in attendance, including spiritual leaders, the program was put into place. Perinatal bereavement support is now standard in Alberta, and nursing staff are provided with additional training to help parents through the process.

The second groundbreaking program Kendrew built was the Cuddlers program, where volunteers were trained to cuddle babies for a few hours each week under the supervision of nursing staff. Cuddlers was likely the first of its kind in Canada, and focused on the importance of touch for infants to gain strength and become more healthy(perhaps they were premature and their parents couldn't always be present, or they were awaiting adoption).

Kendrew strongly believed that physical touch was an important factor for newborn health. With the help of the hospital's clinical educator, Joanne DeForest, and the volunteer services director, she was able to locate supporting research literature and went on to advocate for and create Cuddlers. In Alberta, they were able to train hundreds of volunteers to cuddle infants, and eventually held a Canada-wide symposium for nursing leaders interested in establishing the program. “I credit the success of the above programs to the amazing nurse and physician input and support,” Kendrew says.

Through her decades of work as a nurse in maternal child care, Kendrew has improved the health and well-being of thousands of Albertan families.

“She is keenly aware of how and what nurses need to be thinking about, and shared the importance of using emotional intelligence in order to make a real difference in the lives and health of patients,” says MRU nursing professor Marg Olfert, who nominated her for the 2020 Alumni Achievement Award.

Kendrew is now retired and lives in High River, but remains devoted to ensuring that compassion, empathy and connection are a vital part of nursing training. “If anyone called and said a Mount Royal student needs a boost, I would come,” Kendrew says.

MRU is proud to have Anne Kendrew as a 2020 nominee for the Alumni Achievement Awards, the most significant recognition the university can bestow on members of the alumni community. Award recipients will be announced in the fall of 2020.


Rebecca Morante

Nominee, 2020 Alumni Achievement Awards
Bachelor of Nursing, 2004


Photo of Rebecca Morante.

Working as a nurse in Calgary, Rebecca Morante particularly enjoys mentoring and working with fellow Mount Royal graduates.


Rebecca Morante has dedicated her nursing career to serving local and international communities to improve maternal and child health.

As the daughter of a Mount Royal instructor, Morante has experienced the campus as a centre of learning and a place to nurture her curiosity since her early childhood. It was a natural progression to complete her Bachelor of Nursing at MRU in 2004.

MRU’s focus on community is something that Morante values. “They work so hard to engage people in a variety of ways,” she says. “They recognize culture and diversity and provide opportunities for people to intersect within those differences and similarities.”

In 2015, Morante volunteered with the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT) as a humanitarian nurse to support the post-earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. The experience affirmed her desire to work in low- and middle-income countries with local people, learning their cultural and traditional practices, trying to understand behaviour change and mutually developing capacity.

Morante is particularly proud of her work to open an operating room at the Laos Friends Hospital for Children. Weeks of delays due to equipment being held at borders, plus training staff, running scenarios and setting up policies led to the beautiful, breath-holding moment when the first child was carried through the operating room doors and surgery was performed ―fluidly, successfully and safely.

Another memorable ― and humbling ― moment involved running a pilot neonatal care workshop in Myanmar after months of visiting hospitals, writing lesson plans and building scenarios. “The highlight for me was seeing the nurses understand and shine when they learned a new skill,” Morante says.

Morante went on to facilitate quality improvement initiatives in eight district hospitals in Myanmar, contributing to the development of a neonatal care program curriculum to be used nationally.

Working as a nurse in Calgary, Morante particularly enjoys mentoring and working with fellow Mount Royal graduates; she appreciates their critical thinking skills, focus on people and family-centred care values.

“In the middle of chaos I often reflect on my very first clinical rotation. Our instructor listed all the course expectations and described what we would become by the end of the clinical experience. I remember worrying ‘How will I ever do it all?’ The answer is the same as I learned years ago: step by step, slowly,” Morante said. This is her advice to students: take it step by step.

MRU is proud to have Rebecca Morante as a 2020 nominee for the Alumni Achievement Awards, the most significant recognition the university can bestow on members of the alumni community. Award recipients will be announced in the fall of 2020.