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Scholarship Finalists

Winner 2019

Amiya Benson

Amiya Benson

Since elementary school, I was certain that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Not only have I always loved to assist people, my hospital experience and the tragic death of my grandfather contributed to my marvelous career decision.
The summer before the start of fifth grade, on Father’s Day, my grandfather John Sandlin died due to a stroke. He inhabited many health issues that branched off from one matter: high blood pressure. I was nine years old when he died. Coming home from Georgia with my dad to be told my grandfather is no longer with us crushed my nine year old heart. Months before he died, I slept over at his house. Together, we watched the new show ​Saving Hope. I uttered to him “Granddaddy, I’m going to be a doctor one day and relieve you of your problems.” After he died, I felt as if it was my destiny to fulfill those words I spoke to him. Not only that, I grew curious of the sickness that killed my grandfather. Initially, I longed to hate it. Then, I longed to study it. Now, I long to cure it. I desire to find ways to help save the lives of another person’s loved one. It fascinates me that one day I’ll be prolonging the life of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, and grandmothers.
Due to a mosquito bite on my nose that I scratched , I was hospitalized in June of 2014. One morning I woke up with a swollen nose as red as Rudolph the reindeer’s. While at the doctor’s office, I was diagnosed with a staph infection. The very next day my lip was as big as the Pacific Ocean. Returning to the doctor, he concluded to immediately admit me into Russell Medical Center. A straw was placed through my upper lip into my nose to allow complete drainage of the infection. Once I was relieved of MRSA, I was told I could have died from it and I was stronger than most adults that undergo the same thing. I was astonished how I shifted from possibly dying to completely healthy again. An amazing physician allowed me to see another day. My doctor is the reason why I am still a living entity on Earth. Dr. Tyler saved my life. I long to do that to someone else’s life.
As my doctor and nurses walked in and out of my room, I observed their roles in the hospital. They all had one thing in common: providing the best care for me while ensuring I felt as comfortable as possible. My caregivers made me feel like I was at home and distracted me from pain while saving my life. I love people as well as the science of the human body. It just makes sense to combine the two by becoming a physician that saves one’s life while allowing he or she to encounter the same peaceful experience as I did.

Finalists 2019

1. Will Ellis

My older brother is my motivation for going into the medical field. I was never able to experience that normal sibling relationship with my brother. My brother did not walk or talk. He only lived 12 short years. This is last professional picture that was taken of the three of us. My mom had these made for my dad for Father’s Day 2009 and Edward was gone before the next Father’s Day. He passed away on May 14,2010. He had a long list of diagnosis but the main was Lennox Gastaut syndrome. After watching my brothers life, it has inspired me to go into the medical field as a physician assistant to possibly help children like my brother. Thank you for this incredible opportunity to tell you about Edward.

2. Elena Bregier

I started my education in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as a kindergarten student. School was exciting to me as early as my first day, and made even more exciting when I became best friends with Alexandra. At the completion of kindergarten, Alexandra and I parted ways for the summer and made pinky-promises that we would remain best friends in first grade. When first grade began, I was devastated to realize that Alexandra was not in my class. I looked for her on the playground. I looked for her in the cafeteria at lunch. I scanned all of the other first grade classes we passed in the halls looking for my best friend. When I got home from school, I was greeted by my mother with devastating news. Alexandra's mother had written mine and explained that Alexandra had leukemia.
Alexandra and her entire family left Brazil to seek medical treatment in Houston, Texas. As a young child, I could not understand any of this. What is leukemia? Why do children get sick? Why is it preferable to seek specialized medical treatment in a place like Houston, Texas compared to Sao Paulo, Brazil? From then on, I made a vow to myself to learn more.
Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I remained a focused student. During high school, I explored social events, sports, and what I might like to study at university. Though for some this transition proves difficult; to me it was very clear. Since the loss of my friend Alexandra as a young child, I wanted to be a pediatric nurse.
When I started nursing school at Michigan State University, I was pleased to learn that it was ranked number one in 2005 for undergraduate studies abroad. After my first year, I spent the summer studying global health in Ghana. There, I performed community health assessments and learned about barriers to accessing quality health care. Also, I learned about tropical diseases that are not part of traditional curriculum in BSN programs in the United States.
The next summer, I was involved in a community outreach program in Mexico where I served as a student leader to the group. These international experiences in concert with nursing in the classroom birthed an interest in global health and community service.
Upon graduating with my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, I was offered many jobs in critical care. Among them, pediatric critical care spoke to me. My first job as a PICU nurse trained me in pediatric open heart surgery critical care, pediatric traumas, and childhood diseases with advanced complications. I gained tremendously from these on-the-ground experiences, enhanced by the critical thinking skills I learned school. After I became proficient in my field, I was recruited frequently for my pediatric cardiac surgery critical care skill set. This opened the door to life as a travel nurse where each term of employment lasts from three to six months. Travel nurses are recruited for an accomplished skill set in their specialty and they help address staff shortages. Now, I was able to help serve hospitals and well as children during their time of need. In between contracts, I had free time to travel and volunteer abroad. Finally, I had the opportunity to marry my passions between global health, pediatric populations, nursing and travel.
After achieving proficiency in my field, I wanted more. I craved to learn the nuances of other nursing specialties. Both my professional and personal growth have continued as I broadened my experiences. Nursing is an amazing field for its diversity and flexibility. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this profession that allows access and experience in other fields such as outpatient surgery, orthopedics, adult critical care, code team, cosmetics and dermatology.
Pursuing a master's degree in Nursing Education feels like a natural next step. My vision for educating other nurses will go further with the training I will receive from Western Governor's University. The skills I learn here will make me more relevant to developing sustainable healthcare programs for vulnerable children. Learning more, and helping others with what I learn, would fulfill my earliest childhood quest and make my friend Alexandra proud.
Following you will find a photo of me as a volunteer pediatric cardiac critical care nurse in Tehran, Iran, with Novick Cardiac Alliance. Organizations and events such as this have inspired me to pursue higher education in nursing, as the focus of volunteerism is sustainable and education-based.

Elana Brieger

3. Rebekah Buck

This is a picture of me and one of my many foster brothers. He came to my family with a broken skull and several other fractured bones in his body. I want to be a nurse so that I can help children, and adults, in need of protecting against other family members. I want to be able to see them through the physical healing process of their problem, as well as the emotional healing from all of the trauma.

Rebekah Buck

 

4. Jessica Biddle

A Time to Remember As a caregiver to my grandmother, I learned to accept the hardships of life and use these adversities as an advantage. My career aspirations became greatly inspired by my grandmother’s disability and so I’ve sought to find a profession in the medical field. I find that taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient as a teenager is a huge achievement in life. Not only was I helping someone I truly cared about, but I also took on a huge responsibility that most people wouldn’t have done because of the sacrifice.
A majority of the population who suffer from mental health problems resides in nursing homes today, but instead of my grandmother becoming a part of those statistics she was cared for by her loving daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters. Yes, I would say that being a primary caregiver has caused me to miss out on some important aspects of my teenage years, but through it all, I was able to do something that most teenagers could never say they’ve done. I was able to learn about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease first hand and I was also given the chance to make a huge impact on my grandmother’s life. During high school, I took rigorous classes that required one hundred percent of my concentration. I always strived to make excellent grades in all of my courses and become as involved with my school as much as possible, and at the same time, provide care for my grandmother. Although it was extremely hard for me to balance my education and personal life, I was able to overcome this obstacle and continue to better myself, my community and my grandmother.
My grandmother never believed that there was anything wrong with her mind but rather with the minds of everyone else in the house. She never accepted the fact that she was slowly depreciating mentally and physically so she always tried to prove to us that she could still do daily tasks on her own. She once tried to cook food for the family but ended up starting a minor fire, she tried to make coffee by mixing creamer, sugar, cold water, and coffee grinds in a cup that she would soon forget and leave on the countertop, and she would microwave foods wrapped in foil and sometimes even nonfood items. Although she meant well, she became a hazard to herself and everyone else living here so we took safety precautions and baby-proofed the house. A typical day in my household usually consisted of trying to navigate my grandmother throughout her home. Because her illness had progressed, it became impossible for her to walk, talk, and eat. I remember one day I was showering my grandmother and she just started crying out of nowhere. I was confused as to why she was crying so I called my mother into the room. My mom asked her what was wrong but my grandmother refused to answer. My mother asked her if she was tired or hurting but still, she didn’t answer. So then my mother asked her, “ Are you crying because your granddaughter is having to bathe you?” and then my grandmother burst into more tears. I knew her circumstance wasn’t her fault so I had no right to be mad at her and the way she broke down in the shower made me break out into tears.
I would never wish Alzeheimer’s disease on my worst enemy because it’s a very heart-churning experience for the victim and their loved ones. There have been many emotional break downs during the time of taking care of my grandmother, but I’ve always tried to stay strong for myself and her. On April 16th, 2019, my grandmother slipped into a medically induced coma and a day later she passed away. Caregiving may have been a difficult task, but I was honored to have been there for my grandmother and make the last few years of her life enjoyable. Out of all my accomplishments and achievements in life, I would say that this is the one I am most proud of. Over the four years, I’ve learned many techniques and strategies. I’ve learned how to use a gate belt and sliding board to transport the patient, heel protector boots to keep blood clots and pressure points from developing, and types of medications used for Alzheimer’s patients. I learned how to bathe and clothe the patient in bed as well as turn them every two hours. I even learned how to healthily cope with these circumstances physically and mentally. Although this is not the “norm” of a teenage lifestyle, I was still able to gain a lot from this experience. I now know some of the things required of me as I seek a profession in the medical field and strive to bring awareness to mental health problems. With my experience and my desire to further my education, I plan to become a walking testimony for those who may be going through a challenging moment in their lives.

 

 

5. Lauren Anderson

I first met Mrs. Patton when I was in seventh grade at Deer Creek-Mackinaw Junior High. Mrs. Patton oversaw the science department, and she was my homeroom teacher that year. My life was filled with an instant joy from the moment I interacted with Mrs. Patton. She lit up every room with her enthusiasm for life. Mrs. Patton ignited a fire in me to always yearn for more. From the beginning of each day to the end, her joy never wavered. She was relentless in her pursuit of opening my eyes to the world of knowledge that came with science. Mrs. Patton embodied what it meant to love your job to the point where it never felt like you had to work. She had a passion for teaching and it was contagious in her students. I always enjoyed school, but it was Mrs. Patton that planted a seed in me about science that has only flourished since. I looked forward to homeroom and science class every day because I could be in her presence and feel her passion spread through the classroom.
During the winter, Mrs. Patton missed class for a week. We walked into class that day and knew something was wrong. Mrs. Patton would never miss class if she did not have to. With each day that passed, we grew more concerned until we discovered the news. Mrs. Patton was beginning her fight against melanoma. She returned to the classroom and the first thing she did when she walked through the door was smile. Despite the prognosis she was given earlier, she came in with the same energy that she came in with all year. She was battling cancer and not only returned to teach, but came back even harder. Mrs. Patton taught us a lot about science, but it does not compare to what she taught us about life. She attacked each day with an energy declaring that she was going to make this day the best one yet. One of the greatest lessons she taught me is when life comes at you hard and knocks you down, you get right back up and go back at it harder. She looked a challenge in the eye with a smile on her face and said, “Try me.”
Mrs. Patton used all of the fight inside her to battle melanoma but it was too advanced to overcome. She passed away that summer. Despite her physical absence, her spirit filled the classroom. Her spirit lives inside me to this day and is a driving force behind my approach to life. Because of her, I attack each day with the confidence that I can make a difference. She sparked a light inside of me to dream big dreams and to chase after them until they are mine. When something does not go as planned in my life, I think of the day she returned to class after being diagnosed and I immediately know that I have to return with a fight stronger than it was before. With Mrs. Patton’s influence on my life, I have been able to accomplish numerous goals and impact the lives of those around me. With her influence, I will continue to pursue my wildest dreams and do it with a joy that reminds me of her.

Winner 2018

Corrie Crump

This is the first photo ever taken of my family. This is also one of the moments that helped me to solidify my decision to become a midwife. The care I received from my OB team throughout my pregnancy, during delivery- which ended with a c-section, and even postpartum was phenomenal. This picture was taken in the operating room by my anesthesiologist after they laid my new baby girl on my chest once she and I were stable. This photo captures the happiest, most emotional moment of my life. I am perusing midwifery in hopes of providing the same kind of experience for others.

Corrie Crump

Finalists 2018

1. Sophie Roth

As I stood outside of the Israeli prison, a place where a common civilian cannot gain entry, I understood that medicine is not confined to boundaries or walls, locks or gates. Doors will always be open because in the end medical professionals value life above all other things. At a young age, I had pictured myself in the back of an ambulance, wearing a first responder uniform. A stethoscope gently resting around my neck as I pulled the bright blue, latex gloves onto my hands. Since I was a child I imagined the moment when I would be able to help someone in need of medical attention. I have always had an empathetic connection for individuals in their suffering. As a child, I remember questioning my pediatricians every move. I became innately aware of my thirst for knowledge and medicine and from that point on there was no fear of blood, or pain, or the environment I would be standing in. It was at this point that my developmental trajectory to study medicine formed. 15 years later, and here I was.
As I looked down to the stethoscope around my neck waiting outside of the prison, I began to worry about our next patient. Although I was surrounded by guards, as well as my fellow first responder volunteers, I felt ashamed as I began to question my safety. As a 17-year-old, American female volunteer I felt out of place, and uncomfortable at the entrance of the Israeli prison. Although I was surrounded by adults who were all fluent in the language of the state, I wondered whether or not I was safe entering a foreign prison. Ignoring my surroundings I jumped out of the ambulance’s rear doors, and proceeded, as I had been taught, to lift and then pull, the bed out of the vehicle. Reaching for the enormous first aid bag, I followed my Israeli driver into the prison. Walking into the facility alongside my driver, my fellow volunteer, and our prison guide I felt my confidence grow. As I observed the interior of the prison, I saw dozens of prisoners in the midst of their daily routine. Aside from the fact that some of the prisoners were wearing matching orange jumpsuits, this diverse group of men did not appear to be any different from the rest of the population.
Following the lead of my ambulance driver, I entered the doctor's office at the far end of the prison. I approached the prisoner and began to take blood pressure and pulse. Glancing at the face of the prisoner, I saw the deep wrinkles above his forehead and the tired look in his eyes. Was this man the prisoner I had previously been afraid to help? As a child, I dreamt of having the opportunity to work as a first responder. Now fulfilling my dream, in a foreign country, I was saddened by the influence that my preceding connotations of prisons had held. Prisoner or patient, the elderly Israeli man in front of me was still just that: an elderly man with a valuable life.

2. Bradley Wilinski

I’m interested in pursuing a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant because I find that helping people with disabilities is extremely rewarding. In my lifetime, I have needed help of others so I do have an understanding of what it’s like to need assistance. From the moment I was born, I have faced many challenges. At birth, I needed open heart surgery to correct a Congenital Heart Defect. The surgery fixed my heart but it also caused me to suffer a stroke. While the stroke didn’t cause me any visible physical problems, it did leave me with me with memory loss that has been an ongoing challenge for me. I have always been dedicated to work hard in school by studying much harder than the average student so I can remember information for quizzes and tests. Despite these challenges, I have managed to maintain a 3.5 grade point average in High School and I am a member of the National Honor Society.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced, has led to some of my greatest successes. At age 7, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder in which your brain causes tics; movements or sounds that you can’t control. When I was in elementary school, things were extremely hard. Kids would laugh and stare as I was ticcing. Even teachers thought I was doing this on purpose and would yell at me to stop. I dreaded going to school, and knew that I had to do something to stop the bullying. I realized they didn’t understand about my Tourettes and it was up to me to change this. I started going to each and every classroom explaining about Tourette Syndrome and why I was making these sounds and movements. I realized that I wanted to help others with Tourette Syndrome, so I became a Youth Ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association. As a Youth Ambassador, I go to schools to speak to students and faculty to explain about Tourettes and what they might be seeing in a classmate.
I like being able to help others with the same condition as I have and help them find their voice. Last year in school I volunteered to be in a gym class where I got to work with special needs students. I enjoyed helping and watching them succeed in new experiences. This made me decide that I want to work with people with special needs. I have learned that even though I have a disability, and have faced challenges, I can never let it stop my hopes and dreams. Even if I have to work harder than most, I know that that’s what I need to do to succeed. I am very proud of my accomplishments and will continue to work hard to achieve my goal of succeeding in college.

Bradley Wilinsky

3. Hope Petersen

My Grandpa Richie, a dedicated and driven farmer who had never taken a sick day in his life, sat waiting in a doctor’s office. For months, he had lost weight rapidly and became more prone to common colds. After finding a lump under his arm, Grandpa knew it was time to face the mystery head on. One word would change my family’s lives forever: Lymphoma. Grandpa’s diagnosis would take many things from him, including his independence and strength. Despite these being robbed from him, Grandpa Richie took every measure to protect his biggest priority: precious time left with us.
The doctors presented Grandpa with the option of chemotherapy. However, he rejected the proposal. He resented the idea of leaving his family with tainted memories of him weak from the brutal chemicals. Grandpa Richie had lived a lengthy life filled with simple joys, such as being promoted from father to grandfather. He had accomplished all he desired to do, if not more. He was proud of the beautiful life he had built with his friends and family. Thus, Grandpa Richie did not want to count how many more memories he could create if he underwent chemo; he wanted to lose himself in the countless moments he had left.
Grandpa taught me to never reflect on life with bitterness. “A clock can only tick forward so that’s the way we go,” he would tell me. He never resented the struggles he faced; instead, he chose to love the life he was given. Grandpa kept his optimism by viewing his illness as an opportunity to live everyday with unfathomable joy. At first, it was hard for me to understand how he could not hate this awful disease; I saw it as an evil that turned my world upside down. The more it progressed, however, the more I understood Grandpa’s positivity. I was suddenly aware of the happiness simple things brought, such as how Grandpa held his coffee with both hands to soak up its warmth on chilly mornings. I began savoring every moment instead of taking them for granted. During the ups and downs of Grandpa’s journey, I came to realize where my place was in the world. I developed a love of caring for those in their last stages of life. I began working and volunteering at my local nursing home and hospital to gain a better understanding of this new passion. The more I interacted with those receiving hospice care, the more I realized this was where I was meant to be.
This coming fall of 2018, I will be attending St. Cloud State University to pursue my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. After graduating, I hope to be a home-health nurse specializing in hospice care. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than being a hand to hold and listening ear for those when they are most vulnerable. Caring for those who have impacted the world with their spirit and love, just like Grandpa Richie, is a blessing beyond belief.

Hope Peterson

4. Cassandra J. Zolnowski

I am 18 years old and in my sophomore year at Chamberlain College of nursing. If you were to ask me if I always wanted to be a nurse my answer would be no. I was around 7 or 8 when first being asked what I wanted to be and I had my little heart set on being a lawyer. There was no changing that I wanted to be a lawyer. It made money and I loved to debate and I thought that was my calling. I had this image in my head to be this successful lawyer who could pay for her mother when she got older. It wasn’t until the end of year of my freshman year where I knew I wanted to be a nurse I would do anything and everything to make that happen.
I didn’t grow up with the traditional American family and struggled through a lot of hardships but through all that I had my Aunt Sherry and her house was my escape. Whenever I needed money or food or just to spend the night some where we were always welcomed with her loving arms. Freshman year everything is going great. I had the support system I needed but it suddenly it came crashing down when my aunt got sick. My aunt became hospitalized and underwent surgery. My aunt didn’t make it. It was that day I died inside. I didn’t make the best choices following her death but the one thing that stuck with me is the nurses. I remember walking that hospital with my mom and siblings and getting lost and asking the nurses where to go and the nurses constantly checking in and I understand it is their job but it felt like a comfort from them. I felt almost safe.
As I was going through this life changing experience I began to look back at all the times I had been in the hospital for sprained ankles, misplaced shoulders, stitches, allergic reactions I can’t remember the part that included the doctor just the nurses. The nurses where the ones to keep checking on me and getting me fitted for crutches and slings and staying around to make sure I was alright. It was after my aunts passing where I had my epiphany and knew nursing was my calling, becoming a nurse is what I am meant to be in life. I continued through my remaining three years of high school researching and applying for colleges and scholar ships and making sure I would be alright once I walked out the doors in high school. I was blessed enough to be accepted into all the schools I applied to and ended up choosing Chamberlain for the financial needs it was able to assist with. I remember walking in last year and getting my tour and just wanting to cry because I never felt more welcome in a place before. I had a sudden rush of energy and happiness when we entered all the sim labs and met professors and I just knew this is what I was meant to do and be.
I took something negative and made it into something positive something I know I love and enjoy and something that will be escape just like my aunt was at some point in time. I completed my first year of nursing school with making the dean’s list and I continue to brag about it to this day. Nursing isn’t a hobby it’s my passion.

5. Hailey Danna

Compassionate, respectful, empathetic, and confident. These are the traits of some of the most influential people in the workforce, medical professionals. My interest in the medical profession not only came from the dramatizations on television, or the stories I was told, but also by the endeavors of my parents. Over the years, my mother has worn many hats in the nursing profession. From a surgical nurse, a hospice caregiver, program coordinator and nursing educator, my mother has done it all. Growing up, I remember my mother dragging herself through the door following a sixteen hour shift. Though she was drained, she always would share how relieved she was that she was able to help someone that day or provide a peaceful passing for a patient under hospice care. At a young age, I remember my mother sharing with me children’s books about the body systems, I became increasingly mesmerized at how intricate the body functions were. The many systems working together like well-oiled machine to perform the many intricate tasks that are required fascinates every cell in my being.
My father, a former volunteer fireman, also influenced me in an astonishing way. I fondly remember waking up in the middle of the night, an intense ringing of his pager echoed through the house. Often followed by the clamoring of the bedside table, the sound of heavy boots down the hallway, the thud of our door being swung open, and an increasingly distant sound of sirens as my father raced to save whomever needed him. When he arrived, he would run, climb, and crawl through smoke filled rooms set ablaze in order to rescue someone in need. My father never knew these people nor had any relation to them, yet he went in to save them nonetheless. Upon his return, he always shared stories of heroically risking his life, entering a burning building to save the life of a complete stranger. The thing that always amazed me the most, however, was when we saw those strangers in public and they approached him thanking him and I could see the gratitude rush over their face like a wave crashing on the beach. The combination of both he and my mother acting as strong influences introduced at a young age, shaped me into the passionate seventeen year old that I am today.
My past has drastically influenced both the person I am today and the person I hope to be in the future. I am often viewed as crazy for having such a passion at this age and people often tell me to loosen up and just enjoy being a kid. However, being a kid and being the way that I am has gotten where I am today and what I really want to enjoy is my future in the medical profession. Though it is outlandish for a teenage girl to say she has a passion for medicine, I am that seventeen year old girl who believes that through the medical profession she can truly make an impact and give back in an unconventional way.

Winner 2017

Alli Schlosser

Times of trial throughout life allow a person to learn the most about themselves. The biggest trial in my life helped me determine the career I want to pursue. During a soccer game my junior year of high school, I felt an excruciatingly painful pop in my knee. Numerous doctors appointments following my injury determined that I had torn my ACL, and I was sent in to have surgery on my injured knee. A day following surgery, I anxiously went to my first physical therapy appointment. My nerves were instantly calmed when the therapist assured me that life would be back to normal before I knew it. She helped me recover completely and come back to soccer stronger than I was before. I could not have gotten through what I consider some of the worst moments in my life without the help of my physical therapist always encouraging and inspiring me.
Not only is it important to have physical therapy but also psychological therapy. Having a serious injury that involves much recovery can be devastating and difficult at times. I would often catch myself feeling discouraged and worried about trying to make a complete recovery for the next soccer season. However, my physical therapist encouraged and inspired me through it all. Each session she would reassure me that I was on the road to a great recovery and that this would make me stronger than ever.
Going through many strenuous weeks of physical therapy helped me come to a conclusion as to what career I wanted to pursue. I want to be able to help injured athletes going through the toughest times of their athletic career by helping the athlete recover through physical therapy. After graduating with my intended major in exercise science, my goal is to go on to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Seeing how much my therapist helped, encouraged, and strengthened me inspired me to want to do the same for other athletes and people with disabilities. Tearing my ACL may have been a painful and trying experience, but it lead me to the realization of the career I want to pursue in life.
At a recent soccer game, I felt another pop in my knee followed by raging pain. Instantly, I knew I had retorn my ACL. Devastating set in as I realized my high school soccer career was over. Once again, I will have to go through another surgery and months of recovering through physical therapy. However, this time around I am not worried about my recovery. My past experience with physical therapy left such a positive impact on me, and I know my physical therapist will once again do everything she can to help me make another full recovery.

Finalists 2017

1. Beria Heyman

As someone who does not know me looking in on my life, they might see just a normal African-American girl. However I am far from normal, for starters I am Transracially adopted. Meaning that me and my parents look nothing alike and people often question if I am biologically related to them all the time. Another thing that makes me stand out is that I was born with Sickle Cell Anemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes pain and complications all throughout life. My parents knew this going into the adoption and thankfully followed through.
Throughout my life I have struggled with Sickle Cell and its varying complications. From minor pain to full on pain crisis, Sickle Cell constantly reminds me that it is ever so present in my life. Recently I have had problems with my blood volume and keeping it at a stale level. My hematocrit levels keep dropping to dangerously low levels, leaving me feeling dizzy light headed and fatigue. Lucky my team of Hematologists and nurses have been on top of trying to find a solution to this never ending problem. We’ve came up with having blood transfusions every month about a year ago when this all started. In the beginning of this I dreaded going to the hospital for a multitude of reasons, like missing schools, or the hospital time or just the simple fact that these visits are constant reminders of my Sickle Cell. However my sulking to the hospital stopped when I meet a transfusion nurse named Jennifer. Jennifer and I just clicked immediately making my experience at the hospital a little less gloomy and a whole lot better. When drawing my blood we’ll talk about our common interest like Tv shows, books and our shared interest in 90’s rap music. Jennifer truly makes my hospital experience better.
I want to join the medical field so I can be like Jennifer for another kid. My goal is to become a pediatric nurse in the hematology clinic at Children's Hospital. I am positive that my appreciation for nurses comes from all of the hospital visits and overnight stays that I have had myself. I remember being 12 and knowing that I wanted to be in the medical field, however back then I had not figured out for what. So every time I went into the hospital I watched the nurses, doctors and everyone else, so I could get a sense of what I wanted to do in the future. Around the age of 15 after I had collected all of my data, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse, because nurses are the ones that truly make a difference. Hopefully in the future, I will make a difference for someone.

2. Brianna McMillion

I found my passion for becoming a nurse on a mission trip in Mexico. To begin, every year my church goes down to Mexico to help at a church plant. Sometimes when we go down we are working on the church and making their meeting place more comfortable, while other times we are serving the community by working to clean up and paint houses. While we are down there we stay in houses and last year one of the houses on the other side of the street blew up. Apparently, there was a gas leak in the house and at about 1:14 am on New Year’s Day the house collapsed. It was so scary. I was sleeping in the living room and when the explosion happened, the door was blown open by the force. All of us poured out of the house, having no clue what was happening. All the youth on the trip were so scared because all we saw was a fire and a collapsed building. Then, while our leaders were telling us to get back, we could hear people in pain, yelling for help. It was so hard to stand back and not be able to do anything. I felt so helpless and fearful of what would happen next. One of the leaders on the trip, Carol, was a nurse and she immediately jumped in to deliver first aid, until the ambulance came. Later, the couple who were trapped in the collapsed house came to our youth group to talk to us about what happened. The couple talked about what an impact the leader had on them. The husband talked about how calm and collected the leader was. They were so scared and my leader allowed them to feel safe. It was not the clinical skills or technical medical stuff she did that helped them most, but her calmness, in one of the scariest nights of their lives. This experience inspired me to want to become a nurse. I want to go to college and hone my skill, so that when the time comes I can help people. That youth leader did not know that 212 miles from home, at 1 o’clock in the morning, she would need to provide service to a random couple. However, she answered the call and did what she was trained to. My call may never be to save someone from a collapsed building or fire. My day may come in the form of being able to relate to a patient and provide a sense of security in their time of need. Additionally, I never want to be in a situation like the one I faced in Mexico, where there are people in need and I am unable to help them. I never want to feel that useless. To conclude, when I went on a mission trip to Mexico, seeing one of my leaders who is also a nurse, help a couple in need, inspired me to purse becoming a nurse.

3. Kailey Minks

The young man looked fearful . . . anxious. He was lying on the football field, holding his ankle, his eyes glassy with pain. He looked to me for comfort under the beaming stadium lights. It was in this moment that I knew, I had the power to make this a positive situation, ensuring the player was not afraid.
After suffering many injuries while playing competitive volleyball, I was forced to give up the sport I loved during my sophomore year. When the school’s Athletic Trainer asked if I would be interested in joining the Sports Medicine Program, I jumped at the opportunity. Upon completing first aid and emergency response training, I soon found myself kneeling on the field comforting the young man and assessing his ankle. I was nervous, as this was my first football game as a student athletic trainer, but I felt well prepared for what I needed to do. The rest is history.
I quickly learned during the next two years that I was passionate about the healing process. I always knew an occupation in healthcare interested me, but now I was positive. I want a challenging career, one that forces me to keep learning. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and make an impact on their everyday routine. In my high school classes I have excelled in a variety of areas; from academics, to photography, to cooking. I was awarded a $3,500 scholarship my senior year to attend a Medical Careers Exploration Program at the local community college. In this program I have gathered a wealth of information regarding the many occupations available within the medical field.
My great-grandmother was a nurse up until retirement, I will always remember the satisfaction she felt by helping people through her work. She worked a pediatric nurse, inspiring my hope to become a nurse midwife. My mom also works in a hospital and comes home every day confident with the fact that she has helped patients in receiving the best care possible. Both women are inspirations to my goals.
I want to be a nurse because I believe I can contribute to someone’s day. Whether it is with a smile, a comforting word, or by providing the best care, I know I will do my utmost for each patient. I believe that becoming a nurse will fit in with my personality. I appreciate a challenge, I am energetic, loving, and I thrive in a fast-paced atmosphere. I look forward to continual learning opportunities, as I know that making a difference in someone’s life will be rewarding. I am a person with strong values, and a great respect for life. I feel compassion for the suffering and I am patient. I see nursing as the career that is meant for me. I believe that becoming a nurse will mean the difference between my making a living and making a life and I look forward to this challenge.

Kailey Minks

This photo is the first time I ever wore scrubs, but definitely nowhere near my last time wearing them!

4. Taylor Marlay

I was a micro-preemie. My twin and I were born prematurely at 26 weeks and I weighed just 1pound and 13 ounces. While our start was very difficult for our family, my mom says that it was one of the most special journeys she and my dad have ever taken.
Thanks to the care of the nurses and the neonatologists at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, I am now a 19 year old college student with a totally clean bill of health. The stories that my parents tell of our time in the hospital are the primary inspiration for my pursuit of a nursing career. Additionally, my mom has worked in Radiology at our hometown hospital for over 30 years and I have grown up around the health care setting. Since we were able to talk, my sister and I were volunteering at the hospital by appearing in marketing efforts and helping with community activities. In high school, I was fortunate enough to have a partial nursing education through a community college in our area. Our high school and the college have a partnership r to offer college classes to high school students through a career academy. It was when I was arranging my schedule for my junior year that I decided to enroll in the Nursing program.
I loved taking care of patients and found myself interested in different procedures and tasks that nurses are involved in. I felt like I had truly found my way and that this was definitely the career for me. I continued with academy through high school and took many of the required nursing courses as well as doing clinical time in local nursing homes. Working with the elderly is very rewarding and they have so much knowledge to offer regarding life experiences.
I am enrolled in community college and taking classes to help build my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing while I wait to begin the Associates Degree Nursing Program in June of 2018. I have been accepted and all of my core education classes have been completed as well as some of my primary nursing courses. Once I complete the program at community college, I will then move on to complete my Bachelor’s Degree while I work as an RN.
I feel that I owe a great deal to the doctors and nurses who cared for me and I want to pay that forward to help others through times of need with their health. I have had the pleasure of observing in the Surgical and Emergency Room areas as well. I find that those areas offer more of a challenge to me personally and feel that I may want to specialize in one of them.
As I continue on with my education and embark on the path to my nursing career, I can’t help but think about those individuals that were there for my parents as well as my twin and I. I hope to be able to share the gift of service to others.

5. Kristin Kowaleski

I was inspired to pursue a career helping others because of events I had gone through in my life. Starting in my sophomore year in high school, I began passing out almost daily. With countless doctors and nurses visits we finally found the answer while at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. While in the cardiology unit, Dr. Webster and his Nurse Practitioner Jaclyn, ran test after test knowing it was a heart rhythms problem, but how they would go about fixing it was the question that had yet to be answered. After 10 days as an inpatient at Lurie Children’s in 2015, I was sent home on medication and with an implanted heart monitor. Much as I hoped this would solve my problems – it did not. However, it did allow my team to spot that I would have 10 second pauses between each heartbeat which is why the passing out spells were occurring. Come 2016, we decided the best course of action was to implant a pacemaker. After the surgery, I would not be allowed to do the one thing I loved the most- swim. This was heartbreaking for me, and my doctors and nurses knew the toll it was taking on me. Thankfully, with the support of those around me, I was able to put my energy into other things such as being accepted into a top nursing school and becoming the swim coach for special needs kids at my high school. I wanted to be the support for others in their tough time just as my medical staff and family had done for me.
This year the symptoms from my past had all returned. Episodes of heart palpitations, syncope, and shakiness were back in full swing at full force. The doctors and nurses who were there from the start were once again by my side. Dr. Webster discovered the pacemaker had malfunctioned and needed to be replaced as soon as possible. Although this may sound like a simple procedure, it was not. What should have been one 2 hour procedure turned into two, six hour procedures because my heart was not cooperating with the removal of the old pacemaker and the implantation of the new one. This was frustrating for me as well as hard for my body to handle. As my family encouraged me to be strong, so did the nurses and doctors taking care of me. In fact, Dr. Webster sat with my family through both of my surgeries and visited me with Jaclyn, his nurse practitioner, even though I was moved into an adult hospital. It is my experiences with these wonderful nurses and doctors who truly care about their patients that makes me want to be a nurse. I want to be the support for my patients and comfort them in their time of need like the nurses at Lurie's and Northwestern did for me.

Kristin Kowaleski

Above is a picture of me this fall in Northwestern Hospital.

 

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