Heart To Heart Spotlights

August Spotlight Jacque

Why Nursing: Being a nurse has been my dream career since high school. I didn't have any family members or even close friends of the family who were nurses that led to this aspiration. Maybe, it was the desire to help others or make a difference in people's lives. I knew I could not change the entire world, but I could make a difference one patient and family at a time. My Journey: My journey to becoming a nurse has had its fair share of challenges. My initial journey began in 1987 after graduating high school and starting college in the fall of the same year. Along the way, I became distracted and lost focus. My dream of becoming a nurse became sidelined due to being married with two young sons. It would be more than a decade before I would restart my journey in healthcare. After a failed marriage that ended in divorce and getting remarried to a supportive spouse, I pursued becoming a medical assistant and phlebotomist. I was uncertain if I still wanted to be a nurse. However, after working as a medical assistant for six months, I knew I could not do that for the rest of my career. During that time, little did I know that two close relationships would set the stage for me to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse, specifically a hospice nurse. I knew hospice nursing was my calling after hearing about the care provided by hospice nurses to a fellow church member and a friend's father. I had no idea being a hospice nurse would prepare me for my dad's death. In April 2013, dad lost his battle with kidney disease. What started so many years ago became a reality in December 2011 when I graduated with honors from Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) with my Associate Degree in Nursing and became an RN in February 2012.Having an amazing mentor laid the foundation for me becoming the nurse I am today, and I am still learning. When I restarted my nursing journey in 2005, my dad was diagnosed with End Stage Renal (Kidney) Disease. He was one of my biggest supporters and encouragers, especially when I was in nursing school. The care and education I had provided to my patients and their families came full circle for me in the last few months of my dad's life. About a week after having been with hospice for one year and while mentoring a nurse, my father lost his battle with kidney disease. I was honored to have provided post-mortem care to him. What I had done for other families, I had now done for my own. Most Challenging Event in My Life: My most challenging event was overcoming the stigma of being sexually abused. I had this dark secret that I could not share with anyone. For many years, I blamed myself for what had happened to me and often questioned why. It would take putting all my trust in God for complete healing along with much prayer, two rounds of therapy (several years apart), and finally telling myself it was not my fault. I did nothing wrong. I no longer felt ashamed, and what was once a dark secret had now become a testimony of how God had healed me of the deep-rooted scars and​ brokenness. Life is full of challenges, and there will always be challenging events. We can either choose to face our challenges and become over-comers or yield to the challenges and become victims. Future Goals: I am currently two nursing classes and some electives away from my BSN from Colorado State University-Pueblo. Once that is completed, I will continue pursuing my MSN Nurse Educator. I love education and mentoring nurses. I hope to return to hospice one day. However, that may not be the plan for my life, and I will go wherever God sends me

08/01/22 07:48 AM

May Spotlight Kaela

My Journey/ Most Challenging Event In My Life: In 2019, due to the military, I moved to Colorado to start my freshman year at Fountain-Fort Carson High School. Throughout my four years, I was very involved in my school with extracurriculars, clubs, and sports. I did very well academically with strong grades. In my sophomore year, I got very sick and became unmotivated. After several weeks off from school and many doctors appointments, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The life planner in me was devastated because I had a dream of being a medical physician in the Army. Once I got off gluten, my body healed and I finally felt like myself again. My plan wasnt Gods plan and for some reason being in the Army wasnt the right path for me. So, I went with it. I continued to work hard and eventually found that having the goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner is my path. In my senior year, I decided that I wanted to have a head start so I graduated early and became a working CNA to get my feet wet in the medical field! Now I am currently attending Pikes Peak State College for prerequisites for entry to nursing school while working as a CNA and I am loving every day! I am so excited for my future because it is in Gods hands and I know how rewarding it will be. Why Nursing: I became a CNA because I was so eager to experience the medical field before becoming a nurse. I have always had a passion for helping people. My older sister, Anna, who has Down Syndrome has always been my inspiration. Anna has never talked much and has encountered many medical issues her entire life. I was able to see how blessed I was at a very young age. She has shown me that I need to be the voice for those who cant stand up for themselves. Thats my passion in life. To help and treat those as they should be treated- with respect, love, and dignity. Nursing is my way to pursue this dream of mine. My Accomplishments: -Graduated senior year six months early -Earned above a 4.0 GPA -Involved in various intense AP and college courses -Yearbook editor in chief -HOSA officer -8th place in State for Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking for HOSA (2021) -National Honor Society member -Blue Crew Leader (2019-2020) -Student to Student Secretary -Varsity Soccer Player -Attended college early at Pikes Peak State College -Received my CNA license while attending high school Future Goals: My first goal is to get my ADN. After accomplishing that, I will further my education to get my BSN. My end goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner with either a Doctorate or a Masters degree.

05/01/22 09:42 PM

April Spotlight Ms. Braggs

My Accomplishments: -Joining the Army -Graduating from The United States Military Academy- West Point (Class of 2021, Major: Pre-Med) -Getting my CNA License -Getting my Life Insurance License -Starting my own Business Why I took CNA Training: I took CNA training because I have always had a strong gravitation to caring. I had a minor setback in my Army career that opened up the door for me to explore many other options that life has to offer. CNA training allowed me to see what else I was capable of doing in this life, while also speaking to my passion. My Journey: My journey began immediately after graduating High School in 2017 when I was accepted to the prestigious Military Academy, West Point. After four years full of learning, adversity, and excitement, I graduated from the Academy, where I was expecting to be commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer and begin my military career at Fort Riley, Kansas. It came as an enormous shock, when I was informed that my commissioning was put on hold due to my allergy to bees. In the midst of all the madness, I found myself not going to Kansas, but instead going back home to Colorado Springs. At this point I had no plan, no timeline, and no structure, but I knew I could not remain idle, so I found myself filled with desire to explore my other passions in life. I attended Heart to Heart CNA School and quickly received my CNA license. Most Challenging Event in My Life: The most challenging thing in my life would have to be not being able to commission after graduating from West Point. It is always hard not bearing the fruits from the things you work so hard for. While this was the most challenging thing I have experienced, it has also been the biggest opportunity for me. Because I did not take this challenge at face value, I was able to accomplish so many things that I would have never had the chance to. Future Goals: I have been cleared to commission as an Officer in the United States Army. In just a few days, I will be moving back to New York to finally begin my Army career. I plan to keep my CNA license active forever, so if one door closes, I will always have an open door somewhere else.

03/31/22 10:28 PM

February Spotlight Mr. Daryl Johnson

Why Nursing: When I was younger , I had a few personal health issues. And the team of providers and nurses that cared for me, were amazing and compassionate. That was my eye opener to healthcare. My Journey: I started as a CNA, while in high school, working at a nursing home, until I was hired at Memorial at the age of 16. I worked on a Medical Surgical unit, and than I learned how to read EKG, and started watching cardiac monitors and working in the ICU. When I turned 18, I went to Pikes Peak Community College and became an EMT. And transferred from the ICU to the Emergency Department. I have been at the University of Colorado Hospital now for 12yrs, background ranging from ER, Transfer Center, and Patient Representative. Most Challenging Event In My Life: Taking care of my father in the ICU, I made the decision to do the last care of his body when he passed away. Future Goals: Healthcare Administration. Step away from patient care, for my own mental health and well-being.

02/01/22 09:32 AM

January Spotlight Diamond

- Why nursing? I've always wanted to care for people. Growing up, nursing was the only thing I can see with myself truly enjoying. Now that I'm in my profession I know this for a fact. I've been able to care for babies who just entered the world, I've been able to hold the hands of those leaving this world and few things in between. I'm amazed by the work that I get to do, most days it honestly doesn't even feel like I'm doing work. -My Journey My very first job was working at my home church in music ministries. There, I helped the church set up equipment, speakers, etc whenever they would travel to other churches to perform. I also got to explore my musical creativity by learning different instruments and creating songs. After I graduated high school, I got a job at a local 7-Eleven. This is where I got my drive and motivation to work hard to get the education and career that I desired. From then, I got certified as a nurses aid and worked at a few different nursing homes while I studied to become a registered nurse. My schooling started off at CSU- Pueblo and ended at Denver College (School) of Nursing. While there, I was able to start working as an Advanced Care Partner at University of Colorado Hospital in the birthing center. I learned how to scrub in c-sections and other gyn related surgeries. After I graduated nursing school, I became an RN on that very unit as a postpartum RN. I truly enjoyed caring for and educating new moms and babies, but knew that I wanted to explore more in nursing. After two years I transferred to the operating room, General surgery team where I assisted in various open belly, endocrine, and gyn related surgeries (on occasion assisting in Neuro, spine and Ortho surgeries) and remained on that team for about 4 years. Then, I was privileged enough to be asked to join the transplant team where I currently assist with liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Here on the transplant team is where I truly feel rewarded in my career knowing that lives are being changed and restored by these surgeries. Im blessed to see Gods work everyday. - Most challenging event in my life? In any area of my life, the most challenging thing is waiting on Gods timing. I tend to create my ideal situations of my biggest desires in my mind and when it doesnt manifest in the time and way that I want, I find it hard not getting discouraged and wanting to give up on them completely. Time and time again Ive been proven that Gods plan and timing are much better than my own. Still, even knowing this, I find great frustration in the waiting process. This is a challenge that I dont ever see going away in my life, so I just continue to have faith, be consistent and put in hard work in all of my desires and let God take care of the rest. -Future Goals Im honestly surprised that my career has flourished in the way that it has, as quickly as it has. Where Im at currently wasnt even a goal of mine. So Ill just continue to be open and receptive to the plans my Creator has for me. Maybe some personal life developments with more traveling?... Well see whats in store.

01/02/22 11:21 AM

November Spotlight Christine

Why Nursing: I always knew I would work in the medical field. The human body always fascinated me. I enjoy connecting with others, and finding solutions to difficult problems. My Journey/Challenges: I thought about medicine and then graduated college with a BS in Dietetics in 2008, at the height of the Great Recession. I decided to go back to school to become a registered nurse. I graduated in 2011 and went directly to the ICU as a full time staff nurse, and worked PRN in psychiatry. I accepted a nurse manager position approximately 3 years later, and after working as nurse manager for a year I went back for my MSN - Clinical Nurse Leader in 2015 and graduated 2 years later. My husband and I had incredibly stressful jobs, and we always wanted to move to another state. We took less demanding jobs working fewer hours, and moved to Colorado at the end of 2018. We spent most of 2019 traveling the Western part of the US, and in January 2020 I went back to school to pursue a doctoral degree to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). Although on paper it may look pretty impressive the journey to get to where I am today has not been without its challenges. I have encountered my share of bias, and as a result I questioned my own abilities at times despite my success, but I continued on. The support from my husband and family were the constant in my life that carried me through some very difficult times. Future Goals: I’ll graduate with my PMHNP in December 2021, and go on to complete the DNP in 2023. I can’t wait to work with others in my community to improve mental health outcomes, provide access to mental health care, and decrease/eliminate long standing health disparities within our field. Things I Enjoy: I absolutely enjoy traveling! I have been to 10 countries, and I’m ready to visit more. I love the outdoors. Even before moving to Colorado I hiked, skied, camped, cycled, and just enjoyed being outside.

10/31/21 11:38 PM


Why Nursing: Health and science have always been an interest of mine. I remember my high school anatomy/physiology classes and being fascinated by how our bodies work. For career day, I chose to shadow a labor and delivery nurse. The compassion and knowledge the nurse had that I chose to follow that day was outstanding. She truly loved what she did and her patients trusted her. I was inspired. I had another first-hand experience with a hospice nurse when my grandfather was passing away from cancer. She held our hands, prayed with us, and guided my family through the dying process. This really opened my eyes to the many roles of the nurse, so I decided to pursue a nursing degree. My Journey: I graduated from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2011 with my BSN. The majority of my early nursing career is in cardiology. I also worked in the emergency department and in the PACU. I decided to go back for higher education in 2014. I graduated in 2017 with my adult/gerontology primary care nurse practitioner degree. At that time, my husband and I were still living in Missouri but decided we wanted a change. I began looking for NP positions in Colorado. I was hired at PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) in Colorado Springs. It was a wonderful first nurse practitioner job and I’m so grateful for my experience there. In January 2020, I decided to go back for my post-master’s certification in mental health. I will complete this program in December 2021. Why Mental Health: As I began my primary care journey, I started to notice mental health issues surfacing during a majority of my patient’s appointments. For example, they may have come to see me for stomach pain but as I dug deeper into their symptoms and current life stressors, I would often find psychiatric issues that needed to be addressed. I learned quickly that getting a behavioral health referral would often take weeks to months before a patient could be seen. I would try to treat these patients in the meantime but felt inadequate and not fully prepared to treat mental illness. I decided to go back to help fill the mental health provider role and advance my knowledge in this field. Most Challenging Event In My Life: The most challenging event in my life was probably my first year as a nurse practitioner. I was very timid in my practice and would often doubt my decisions. Thankfully, I had a wonderful mentor, Dr. Scot Sickbert, to help me through my first year of practice. I recommend finding a great mentor, someone you can trust, during your first years of practice as a nurse or a provider. It truly impacted my practice and boosted my confidence as a practitioner. Future Goals: I hope to graduate in December and pass my mental health NP boards. With my new degree, I hope to find a position in mental health, specifically working with the geriatric population. My husband and I are also very excited to welcome a baby in February 2022.

09/30/21 02:40 PM

September Spotlight Dr. Conner

WHY MD Planning my career, I knew that there were a few features I wanted it to fulfill. 1) I wanted to help others. 2) I wanted it to be a career in science because I loved learning about how things worked. 3) I wanted my day to always be interesting and different. No boredom. When we had a career fair at my elementary school, the nursing field presentation piqued my interest. It was only later that I learned that even though I never met or seen a female doctor of color, that Black girls can become doctors too. Diagnosing and prescribing treatment, utilizing scientific tools and knowing the patient to individualize the treatment is a challenging but rewarding career. My Journey/ My challenges My journey to become a physician was long and filled with ups and downs. Once I set my goals on becoming a physician, learning and working towards that goal began inside and outside the classroom. Throughout my educational career, I would not only study to obtain the best grade possible, but also to build a strong scientific knowledge base. Often, I would find myself in a class or conference where no one looked like me. Knowing that I was representing, not only myself, but other future women of color helped push me to continue forward. Participating in a medical interest club, shadowing a physician through the Boy Scouts special program, and attending a NASA conference on medicine at the Air Force Academy were extra curricular activities I did during my high school years. Graduating from Mitchell high school with honors, I previewed which colleges would best help me to pursue this career. While in college, I shadowed doctors at the local hospital as well as in Kenya, Africa. I graduated from Carroll College with a BS majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. Disappointed that I was unable to attend medical school right after graduating due to finances, my interim job provided an opportunity to use and improve upon my scientific skills and knowledge. As a chemist for the city of Colorado Springs Wastewater Laboratory testing, analyzing, and using critical thinking skills to determine how the water system was working was required. These skills are comparable to the skills I use as a physician to determine how the human system is working. Matriculating through medical school brought its own challenges since I was married and had a child by this time. Learning large amounts of material in a short amount of time along with caring for a family required careful planning and life balancing skills. After graduating from medical school, life events occurred causing a delay in starting residency. During this time, I worked as a medical assistant, which not only provided financial assistance, but also gave hands-on clinical training. Full time training in Family Practice residency with 2 children and my spouse in the military during the time of 9/11 was hectic. Extended calls overnight, admitting patients to the hospital, delivering babies, and assisting in surgeries at unpredicted hours caused my youngest to eventually resent my scrubs. Graduating from residency one would think an easy street was ahead. However, interviewing, moving, setting up a practice panel, setting up a home for now 3 children with my husband, and practicing in the real world has its own set of challenges. Being accepted in the new community as a Black woman doctor stretched me in additional directions.​ In conclusion, challenges in facing sexism, racism, cultural bias, financial limitations, time management, fatigue as well as facing discouragement from teachers, instructors, colleagues, even my own personal physician and dentist were all difficult to face. However, encouragement and faith in me and my abilities from family members, friends, teachers, instructors, and professionals in medicine and scientific fields, helped me to persevere and succeed.

09/01/21 10:24 AM

July Spotlight Lawrence

Why Pre-Medical: When I was a kid I never knew what I wanted to be when I became an adult. I did think about being a professional athlete, a firefighter, or an actor; but never stuck with any of them. My maternal grandfather had heart problems and passed away suddenly. Years later, my maternal grandmother also passed away due to heart problems. I was devastated and I did not know what to do. It was then I realized that I could become a cardiologist to help people that suffer from heart conditions and try to prevent kids from going through what I unfortunately went through, losing my grandparents at young ages. The first step in doing that is to get an undergraduate degree in Medical Humanities. I know it will be difficult, but in order to assist in saving the lives of others, I am willing to take that first step. College Plan: My plan is to attend Baylor University in the Fall of 2021 where I was accepted into their Medical Humanities program. I am excited to meet new people, eat Texas food, participate in college activities, and learn more about the medical field. Most Challenging Event in My Life: Dealing with the death of my grandmother was the most challenging event in my life. She was a person I was close to and her not being here to watch me grow up is devastating. However, I know that if she were able to tell me one thing right now, that would be to be strong. I will be strong for her and work hard to reach my goal. Future Goals: For the next eight years I will be working to obtain my medical degree. The next eight years will be long and daunting, but if it means that I will become a cardiologist in the end, then I will continue to work hard. Things I enjoy: Music is my all-time favorite. I first learned to play a guitar when I was five. Since then, I have learned to play the trombone, tuba, and saxophone. I also enjoy hanging with my friends and playing Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Awards and Accomplishment: I graduated with a 4.23 GPA and was in the top 50 of my class of over 300 graduating seniors. Volunteer of the Year Award for Evans Army Community Hospital Red Cross Fort Carson Youth Volunteer of the Year Superintendent Scholar Award Distinguished Honors National Honors Society Acceptance Baylor Academic Scholarship Chancellor’s Award

06/30/21 08:02 AM

June Spotlight Kya'

Why Nursing: I am excitedly awaiting the day that I am working as a Pediatric Nurse. It has always been my dream to care for children, but it really resonated when my home was engulfed in flames in the spring of 2017. This solidified my aspirations as I watched those who were injured need medical attention. I was intrigued by the interaction, compassion, communication and sense of urgency from the medical staff on site. Nursing is a broad field; however, I firmly believe in my heart that catering to children is my true passion. College Plan: I graduated from James Irwin Charter High School on May 27, 2021 with a 4.33 gpa. My college journey will begin this fall at Creighton University (Omaha, NE) where I was accepted into their College of Nursing. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, playing club volleyball, living dorm life, learning from new experiences and most importantly, absorbing knowledge to set me up for success in Nursing. Most Challenging Event in My Life: Undoubtedly, experiencing 2 devastating house fires have been the most challenging events in my life. During these emotional times, I learned about patience, perseverance, fear and overcoming obstacles. The trauma also reinforced that having a great support system (family and friends) can bring comfort when it’s needed the most. I truly now value my existence and know that I have a greater purpose. I thank God daily for saving my life and feel blessed that I’ll have the opportunity to “save” others. The small things that I previously took for granted, I don’t anyone. Life is too short and I recognized that EVERYTHING can be taken away in the blink of any eye. All I know is that my future has to be brighter than my past! Future Goals: Over the next 4 years, my ultimate goal is to attain my BSN and seamlessly transition into my career. I realize that it will take commitment and probably many late nights, but I’m confident I can do it! Thanks for setting me up with a strong foundation Heart to Heart, I’ll keep you posted!

06/14/21 12:44 AM

MAY Spotlight Racquel

Why Nursing: From the age of three Ive always wanted to be a doctor. I joined the Army after high school, but still had the desire to become a doctor and transition from active duty. I thought it was best to start from the bottom and work my way up so I started nursing school. I love the idea of helping someone back to good health. I think because of my understanding of what a nurse does it made me more eager to pursue nursing. I love that as a nurse you can work in almost any area in the medical field that you would like. I also like to think that nurses are the first line in patient care, they are the first and last to see the patient. We play a very important role and I love it. My Journey: After leaving the army and starting school I realized I wasn’t mentally ready to take on college and I still had some adjusting to do. I needed to find a school that was more structured and straight to the point. I decided to get my foot in the medical field by going to school to become a Medical Assistant. After finishing and becoming a Registered Medical Assistant and I was ready to give up. My husband found a new church where we met Mrs. Williams who convinced me to take my state exam for CNA because I already took the classes. She helped me practice for my skills check off and study for the exam. She also helped me make up my mind to continue nursing school, so I started an LPN program which I will be completing in a few months. Most Challenging event in My Life: Though I’ve had many challenges along the way, I would say right now my challenge is balancing school and family altogether. So far I think I’m handling it well thanks to my husband for his patience and help.​ Future Goals: After school and getting my license I plan to continue my education to get my BSN (yay! future RN) and later work on my dream of becoming a doctor. I will take it one step at a time. That way Im not overwhelmed and start to doubt myself again.

05/04/21 09:02 AM


Why Nursing: After taking some time from high school to live and enjoy life I also took that time to really think about what career I wanted to pursue. Although I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be a Nurse, I realize that nursing has always been a part of who I am. I am the oldest of five siblings and even at a very young age found myself playing a motherly role by nurturing and caring for my brothers and sisters. I have always had a great love of people, all people, and learned to love all our differences without prejudice or judgement. That being said, nursing has always been a natural impulse for me. When I asked myself what do I want to do with my life I asked what would make me happy, what career would challenge me, what would give me meaning and feel purposeful, and what would keep me engaged and give me the opportunity to continue to learn and grow!? Also, would I be able to find a job and use my degree in life. It just made sense to me; nursing fulfilled all these things for me. I have always been very active and an athlete throughout my life; nursing is hard work; gets you moving and keeps you physically healthy as well and mentally. I have always believed in practicing what you preach… I feel that our patients or those we teach are more apt to learn and follow your guidance if you yourself are a good example and live a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention nursing will always be in demand; what career gives you the option to go anywhere in the country and find a job. Nursing is very rewarding and offers so many possibilities! My Journey: As mentioned above my journey began as a child. I was the oldest sibling of five children to a single mother who struggled to provide for us children; father passed in a car accident when I was year and a half old. Although she was a good mother, I often had to assume the role when she could not. Some might say I was forced to grow up at an early age but maturity was a blessing in disguise. I knew when I was very young that if I wanted things to be different for me in my life that hard work, goals and smart choices would pave my way. I moved out of the house at age 16, put myself through high school while maintaining an A+ average, graduated from high school a half a year early and went to work. After 2 years of substandard jobs decided on college and Nursing was the best choice for me! Most Challenging Event in My Life: I would have to say finishing nursing school after having a child and being a new mother was most challenging. Although I tried to do things in order; school, marriage and then children, there were some hiccups! I married half way through nursing school and towards the second half became pregnant. Unfortunately, during my 1st trimester of pregnancy, I became ill will Hyperemesis Gravidarum and was hospitalized for 8 days, unable to eat or drink, losing 12 lbs. and mentally/physically drained. Hiccup came when nursing director told me I could make up 22 hrs. of clinical and a missed test by the end of the week after returning from being discharged from the hospital, lethargic and still recovering. I could have attempted to pass the test but realistically the only smart decision was to withdraw from that semester because taking an incomplete was not an option for me. So, my nursing degree was lengthened another year and a half before obtaining my degree – 11 months to be accepted into another program and a whole semester to redo the semester I had to withdraw from. This was my greatest challenge, but I didn’t give up and eventually it paid off. Future Goals: I am continually expanding my knowledge in nursing and new opportunities to come my way! I worked with Memorial UCHealth for almost 8 years which made me a well-rounded nurse. I have since worked with Alzheimer’s patients assuming the role of Interim DON and ADON, and currently am the Wound Nurse Manager for 120 bed LTC/Rehab facility, and most recently took on a second full time job as an On Call RN for hospice! Possibilities are endless and my goals are to keep learning and growing in this field!

04/11/21 11:20 PM


Why Nursing: From the time that I was a teenager I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I loved learning the way the body works. I also wanted to help and care for people. My Journey: My nursing journey has been 18 years in the making. I started out as a CNA initially with hopes to work and gain experience in the nursing field. After a shoulder injury and feeling like I could not find a position that was a good fit, I moved on to other jobs that provided me with the flexibility to continue my education. At one point I also considered the military and took the ASVAB but eventually decided to continue my nursing path. I started my nursing education at the local community college but later moved and completed my ADN at a career college. I always dreamed of becoming a labor and delivery nurse, but my desire changed while I was in school. I again was at a place where I was not sure what I wanted to do but decided to be open because I realized any opportunity would provide a learning experience. My first position was in a skilled nursing facility and from there my love for working with the elderly developed. Over the years I gained experience in hospice and primary care as well. I went on to complete my BSN and later my master’s specializing in adults and geriatrics. I am currently working as a Nurse Practitioner managing the primary care needs of residents in skilled nursing facilities. Most Challenging Event in My Life: Having a child let alone becoming a single parent were not a part of my plans. When I got pregnant, I was working full-time, completing my BSN with the goal of going on to get my master’s degree. Becoming a parent has been a challenge but I had to learn to not let it limit me. My daughter is the best thing that happened to me. She has pushed me to do things I would have never otherwise done. She is my motivation for all that I do. I want her to see that if she works hard, she can do anything. Future Goals: I would like to continue to strengthen my skills as a nurse practitioner. In the future I would like to get involve in precepting nurse practitioner students. I also hope in the future to get into a role where I am providing mentorship to nursing students or even education.

02/28/21 08:32 AM

February Spotlight Aaron Williams

Why Nursing: Unfortunately, I was born with a heart defect that required open heart surgery to correct. I had a natural gift of speed which was put on display during track and football season. Oftentimes after physical exertion, I would become dizzy and experience shortness of breath. By the time I reached 15 years of age, the doctors decided it was time to correct my heart issue. I spent about a week in the hospital recovering from the surgery and receiving excellent care from doctors and nurses. It was during this time that I knew that I wanted to go into the medical field to help others. Initially, I was inspired to become a heart surgeon, but later in life I realized that my true calling was nursing. My Journey: Being the first in my family to attend college was a badge of honor to wear as well as a heavy cross to carry. As a son, I always wanted to make my father proud, and I remember overhearing him telling someone that I was going to college and how proud he was. This was the badge and the cross, keeping him proud and not letting him down. I got the sense that achieving this wasn’t just for me. Competing to get into nursing school was extremely challenging, but not soon after getting accepted, I realized that this was just the beginning of my fight. Several months before I was scheduled to start the nursing program, I was summoned to the department chair’s office. I felt extremely honored that she wanted to personally meet with me and welcome me into the program. I confidently walked into her office and introduced myself and sat down at her desk. She pulled out my transcript and tried to convince me that nursing wasn’t the best fit for me. She expressed her doubts that I could successfully complete the program based on me receiving a “C” in a couple of my advanced science classes. I pulled out my acceptance letter and stated, “ those grades were on my transcript when I was accepted into the program, why are you questioning me now”? She had no response and as I walked out I told her that I would prove her wrong. Shortly after that meeting, I discovered that she had the same meeting with several other African American students. Most Challenging Events in my Life: Sadly, less than two months before I was set to start the nursing program, my father suddenly and tragically died from a heart attack. I was devastated and struggled with the decision to start the program. Heart broken and depressed, I knew that I had to continue my journey in completing nursing school. I asked God to grant me the strength and courage to press forward. I had to fight through depression and discrimination while getting my education. Being black wasn’t the only discriminatory issue that I was faced with, but also being a male in a female dominated profession wasnt always welcomed. Nevertheless, I am happy to say that I graduated nursing school and have been a Registered Nurse for nearly 20 years. Future Goals: Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to be in Healthcare Management for the past decade and have accomplished the heights of my aspirations. I can retire in the next 7-10 years and have no desire to advance any higher. I can’t believe that at forty-four, I’m already thinking and preparing for retirement life. My future goals and endeavors are to explore real estate investment opportunities and to travel.

02/01/21 11:11 AM