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In Memory of Theodora Oduro

by Senior lecturer Dr Sandy Oldfield

I first met Theodora in 2006, when she was working as a nurse in the Special Care Baby Unit in Oxford. She had previously qualified and worked as a nurse and midwife in Ghana. Being new to higher education, Theo decided to first attempt some modules as an associate student. Encouraged by her success, Theo subsequently began the post-experience Children’s Nursing BSc (Hons) programme in 2007, from which she graduated in 2009. During that time, I was Theo’s personal tutor, lecturer on a number of her modules and dissertation supervisor.

Theo was an exceptional student, and a delight to teach. I cannot recall anyone in my many years of teaching who was a more enthusiastic proponent of higher education and how it could change people’s lives. Theo radiated enthusiasm in all she did – whether in theory or practice. She had steely determination and stood out as student who went the extra mile in her studies, which was very evident in her engagement in class discussions and other learning opportunities available. Furthermore, she would often offer unique insights gained from her experience of working in different cultural contexts; this definitely helped to encourage her classmates to think and practise cross-culturally. By many of her younger classmates she was viewed like a ‘mother’, because she was so empathetic and supportive of them, and ready to offer help.

Theo was a great believer in the importance of applying evidence in practice for the welfare of children and families. I recall her telling me how she challenged some of the doctors in the unit where she worked to consistently adhere to evidence-based practice in infection control; she said they listened to her, which I suspect was largely due to her good natured and humorous way of doing this. Having undertaken her dissertation on neonatal developmental interventions, she enthusiastically shared her learning from this with others in her workplace, encouraging them to think about how to incorporate research findings in practice. An extract from Theo’s final reference from us speaks for itself in this regard: “Theodora feels she has particularly developed her understanding of evidence-based practice and the physiology underpinning this, as well as management skills; she now feels confident in evaluating and where necessary, challenging practice.” She had very high expectations of herself and other people.

Theo had a lovely open, generous and caring personality, which meant she readily established close relationships with others. Every member of the Children’s Nursing teaching team remembers her with great fondness. We will always remember Theo as a wonderful person, who contributed so much to others’ lives – not only in an educational context but also in health care practice. Although her life was unexpectedly cut short, the way she lived her life will be an inspiration to others for many years to come.

Theodora returned to Ghana in September 2011, but was tragically killed in a car accident in Ghana on December 18th. Her memorial service will be held on Saturday January 28th 2-8pm at Sol House in Manchester.