The legacy of the late Dr Sarah Cope, a University of Canberra assistant professor of nursing and a passionate advocate for the rights of the elderly, lives on, with a UC nursing student presented with the inaugural award in her honour.
Dr Cope passed away in March as the result of bowel cancer, aged just 44. She inspired many students including second-year UC nursing student Jess Kerrigan who on Friday will be officially handed the Caring for Older People Excellence (COPE) Award in Dr Cope's honour.
The award recognises an undergraduate nursing student who shows enthusiasm and passion for caring for older people
Dr Cope taught Jess, 26, who is determined to focus her career on the better care of the elderly, especially those with dementia and how diet can affect their wellbeing.
"We seem to focus on the other end of life, newborns and neonatal care, and that is important, but I think we also have to put greater focus on the aged," Jess said.
Jess, who is also a mum to two young children, said she was honoured to receive the award, saying Dr Cope had been a special person.
"She touched all of the students in different ways," Jess said. "We've all got our different memories of her."
Dr Cope's husband Ian Cope was at UC on Thursday to celebrate the announcement, along with his wife's beloved black 2018 Mustang which she bought as a bucket-list item after she was diagnosed with stage-four bowel cancer last September, just six months before her death.
Mr Cope said his wife woke up one night with stomach cramps that turned out to be a perforated bowel, a 15-cm tumour and the devastating stage-four cancer diagnosis.
"She was very strong and after the initial shock, she was determined to fit in as much life as she could and she did," he said.
That included paying for her extended family to go on a holiday to Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast and buying dream cars for her brother (a Ford Model A Coupe) and an F6 Ford Falcon for each of her stepsons, Owen and Jordan.
Mr Cope said his wife, who was also a registered nurse and lieutenant in the army, had always been passionate about aged care. She would be thrilled her influence was still being felt in promoting the field.
"Oh, yes, 100 per cent," he said. "If she had her way, we'd all be nurses."
UC head of the school of nursing, midwifery and public health, Professor Karen Strickland, said Dr Cope was an accomplished academic, "a really serious intellectual", who was committed to her students.
"She had such a big personality," Professor Strickland said, laughing that Dr Cope also loved nothing more than to attend Summernats.
The inaugural Dr Sarah Cope memorial lecture will also be delivered at the university on Friday by Dr Cope's former doctoral supervisor Professor Elizabeth Beattie from the Queensland University of Technology.
Other key speakers will present research in ageing, while former UC students will present key memories of Dr Cope's teaching.
A bottlebrush tree has also been planted outside the nursing building at the university in Dr Cope's memory.