When I was in high school, if you had told me that someday I’d be enrolled at Duke University on my way to getting an advanced degree in Nursing, I would have thought you were either crazy or delusional. I grew up in challenging circumstances, and no one, especially me, expected that I would go to college at all, let alone graduate high school. But fortunately for me, I had a teacher in high school who saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself and encouraged me to consider Running Start at SCC. While I was hesitant, having someone who believes in you can be a powerful force, so I ended up following her advice and enrolled at SCC, and while I couldn’t have predicted where it would lead me, this small start opened up a whole new future to me. Without the Running Start program at SCC, I would never have landed on the path that led me to where I am now, in an accelerated nursing program at Duke University!
Through Running Start, I graduated high school with an AA from SCC in Social Work. From there, I went on to finish my Bachelors degree at EWU. While I was at EWU, I was fortunate to be a part of a service trip to Lima, Peru, and, like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I felt like I was seeing in color for the first time. I volunteered at an orphanage and for the first time, saw abject poverty. Yet despite the grim circumstances of daily life there, I witnessed true generosity and compassion, and I saw the power of a community working together to help those most in need. This experience made me realize that I wanted to spend the rest of my life helping people. Since then, I have volunteered at various organizations in our community, including the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Hospice of Spokane and Lutheran Community Services.
After graduating from EWU, I spent two years in Fort Riley, Kansas working with the Red Cross in Emergency Communications, which helps connect deployed military members with their families. I continued to be involved in volunteer work and participated in a variety of programs that provided to support to military members and their families. I was based out of a military hospital, and during my time there, I realized that nursing was my true passion, so I returned to Spokane and SCC to start nursing pre-requisites. Unfortunately, since I already had a college degree, I was not eligible for financial aid. Thankfully, I received a scholarship from the Foundation, which filled the gaps between being able to pay rent and stay in school. The support I received from the Foundation was the extra help I needed to make it through.
Once I completed my pre-requisites at SCC, I was looking at my options for finishing my nursing degree, and thanks to my previous non-profit and volunteer experience, I was offered a place at the Duke Accelerated Nursing Program. I feel so happy and fortunate to be a part of this program and am really enjoying being in North Carolina and the chance to explore another part of the country.
I feel so fortunate to have been accepted into the nursing program at Duke. It’s a really intense, challenging program, but as soon as I arrived, it reinforced that this was where I was supposed to be, and that it’s what I am meant to be doing. I know that I have found my calling, and it’s so fulfilling to know that doing what I love to do is helping make a difference in the world. After I finish the program here at Duke, I will be coming back to Spokane and working as a nurse at CHAS clinic (a community health program).
I think the biggest lesson I have learned so far from my journey is that the most important thing in life is just to try. Don’t limit yourself to what you, or other people, think is possible. It might be scary, but don’t be afraid to explore different options until you find something that interests you. It’s worth it to find out what you’re really capable of and to see the places you might end up. I wasn’t always sure where I was going or what I should be doing, but I tried lots of different things and finally found a fit in nursing. It’s led me to places I never expected to be, and now I know it’s just the beginning.
I’m so grateful that SCC was there for me and helped me find my way. At SCC, I found my path to the future, and it means so much to me to have had someone who believed in me and pushed me to be more than I thought I could be.