The Tough Road Ahead

So I mentioned on my Meet Erica page that I’m a nursing student. I know what most people think when they hear the words “nursing major”; they think blood, poop, needles, and YUCK! Well let me be the first person to tell you that, yes, all those things are a pretty accurate description of a nurse’s job. Even though you have to deal with all of the nasty parts of the job, and there are plenty of nasty parts, you get those moments with a patient that shows you that everything is worth it!

I got the chance my senior year in high school to take a clinical class and spend time working at a local nursing home. Now we had some not so fun jobs like cleaning up poop, changing diapers, putting in dentures, and a bunch of other stuff. Even though we had to do all that yucky stuff every day, those little moments when you get to sit down and talk to the patients and hear their stories made it all worth it. To know that spending that little bit of time with the patients and just seeing the smile on their face can brighten your day.

I want to specialize in pediatrics. This means that I want to work with children. I love working with children. They are fun to work around because even if they are going through a hard time or a bad illness, they still have a positive outlook and are always looking for something fun to do. I’ve volunteered at my church for 7 years in the AWANA’s program at my church running the games for children and helping them memorize their bible verses. In those 7 years, I have fallen in love with working for children, and I learned that was part of my calling- to do something to help children. I didn’t expect that I would learn so much from these children.

The lady in the chair is my aunt Elisha that died of cancer.

The lady in the chair is my aunt Elisha that died of cancer.

Back to the nursing part now! My goal after college is to go on to get my Master’s and become a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner. That means working with children that have cancer. I mentioned this in my Meet Erica page, too, and said that it has greatly affected my life. When I was in preschool, I had a best friend in my Sunday school class at church. His name was Lance and he was diagnosed with Leukemia. He died while we were young, so I don’t remember a lot of what he went through, but as I grew up I decided I wanted to learn more about this disease. So growing up I always researched and tried to learn more about leukemia. That wasn’t my only encounter with cancer. My great grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away while I was in elementary school, and my great aunt was diagnosed with cancer in her eye and later on developed another type of cancer, too. I saw her go through chemo, and I saw it tear her down. She always stayed strong-spirited no matter how weak her body became. She died while I was in 7th grade after a long battle with her cancers. Then, a few years later my papaw was told he had a tumor and that there was a possibility that it was cancerous. So he had a surgery to remove it. Luckily it wasn’t cancerous.

My high school years were when things got tough. A girl a year younger than me was diagnosed with bone cancer. Claire had gone to middle school with me and I knew who she was but I wasn’t very close to her. She fought the cancer and eventually went into remission. She was finally able to come back to school, but a little while later she was diagnosed with leukemia. There’s that disease again. She fought her battle the hardest she could with a smile on her face and this light beaming from her eyes showing her strength even in the hardest of times. She had not only her family and friends supporting her, but she had the whole school and community backing her up. She was the inspiration to the school, and little did she know she was an inspiration to me. I followed her story even while I began college. Sad to say that she passed away a little while before her graduation. People say this is when they lost the battle, but with Claire she didn’t lose, she just got tired of winning the battle. She was my inspiration to decide on pediatric oncology.

claire

This is Claire Hayes from the time before she was first diagnosed up until a little bit before she passed away.

I have family and friends that have fought cancer and are fighting it right now. Just this past year my dad’s partner at work was diagnosed with cancer, went into remission, cancer came back, and he is now finally back in remission again. Also just this summer, at 11:30 PM the night before my birthday I found out my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, according to the doctors this one is “incurable”, but I believe there is nothing that cannot be cured. There is always a chance of hope and nothing is impossible. She is still fighting her battle today.

stephen

This is Stephen Talbott, my dad’s partner, and his daughter before his last surgery to remove a tumor.

the lady in the front seat in the yellow shirt is my aunt Teresa

the lady in the front seat in the yellow shirt is my aunt Teresa

So how does this tie into LMU, you may ask? Well duh, I’m a nursing student here, silly! But this is just my first step in pursuing and achieving my dream. With the Math and Science Building being just a year old, we have a great facility to learn in. Most of the equipment is brand new and the work you do is very hands on. I’m excited to start dissecting in my Anatomy and Physiology class this semester. It also houses the Caylor School of Nursing, the nursing program here. There are great faculty and professors here to help you succeed and they truly want to see you succeed. All of the faculty members hold at least a Master’s degree in science and some even have a Doctoral degree. This just adds to the wonderful learning environment here on campus.

If you have any questions about the nursing program here or anything else you can comment on here or email me

and I will try to help you out to the best of my ability!

4 thoughts on “The Tough Road Ahead

  1. Erica, I am so proud of you. You have such a sweet, compassionate spirit. I know God will help you along your way of studies and bless you beyond measure as you enter your lifetime of helping others. Love you girl, Nana..

  2. Hi Erica, my name is Sharon and my daughter and I came up to LMU from Andersonville (about 1.25 hours) to tour the campus. My daughter immediately fell in love. She too is interested in the Nursing Program. She wants to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She originally wanted to be a Doctor but quickly decided that 8 + years of college was too much. What can you tell us about the Nursing Program at LMU. Is there anything that she should be doing now to prepare? She is a senior this year and will graduate in May 2014.
    Thanks, Sharon

    • Hi Sharon! I’m so excited to hear that your daughter fell in the love with the campus! I understand that completely; before I came to visit LMU I was dead set on going to another school. But as soon as I could see the school as I was driving up, I also fell in love, and have been in love ever since. One thing that I love, not just of the nursing program, but of all the classes, is that the classes are small in number. I think my biggest class in my 3 semesters of being here had about 25 students. However, I am in a class this semester that has 7 students in it. The small class size gives you a more personal feel with your classmates and teachers. It makes it a lot easier to go talk to your teacher during his/her office hours if you need help. Also the professors are very helpful, and they want you to come talk to them if you are having problems. I’ve had to go to my professors plenty of times for help. Now, I’m not exactly in the nursing program yet, so I haven’t had classes with those professors yet, but my advisor is through the Caylor School of Nursing. She has been very helpful and supportive throughout my semesters and getting everything in line to apply for the nursing program. When it comes to preparing for the nursing program, or just college in general, I would just say prepare for a lot of sciences and a lot more studying. You will have at least one science class a semester and at least one semester will have two science courses. One thing to remember is that your science classes are a major part in preparing to apply for the nursing program. You want all of your grades to be high so your GPA is high, but you definitely want your sciences to be high most importantly. The sciences are what show the teachers that, yes, you are prepared and ready for the nursing program. Another thing to look into is ways of getting scholarships through the university, one that I found was through the Honors program. The Honors Program has a couple of days where incoming students can come and participate in interviews with faculty and do a writing sample. These are then looked over and decided upon who gets what scholarships; one, most importantly, is the presidential scholarship that gives you full tuition for your 4 years. It is also a good way to meet some of the professors, as they are the ones interviewing you, and you are also able to meet other future students here. It would also be a good idea to look into participating in Railsplitter for a Day, which is where you come to campus and stay the night in one of the dorms, and then sit in on a few, real classes. This shows you what it is like to be a current student at LMU. If you all have any more questions, feel free to comment again or you can email me at erica.stephens@lmunet.edu. I hope this has helped you all out, and I hope I see your daughter here next year!

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