Advice on “Never giving up” from an NU Student Nurse

Editorial Note: This blog post was written long before the current public health crisis was dominating the conversation here in the US. However, this message of never giving up, working hard, finding creative solutions, and overcoming obstacles and challenges couldn’t be more timely. We are thinking of all of our NU student nurses and nursing school grads, as well as all of the heroes working in the medical and public health fields at this time.

A smiling young female nursing student in front of flowers
Tori Chavez, a Student Nurse and NU Scholar (January 2020 Cohort) shares her inspirational message of perseverance and hope

Don’t Give Up

I hate to sound cliche, but when I look back on my life, the first thing that comes to my mind is “everything does happen for a reason.” I always knew that I wanted a career in nursing but, statistically, the odds were not in my favor. My parents had me when they were teenagers and had only a high-school education. When we weren’t stressing about how to make ends meet, we were stressing about the next time we would have to. I quickly realized that accomplishing my dreams was going to take more than validation and encouragement from my family. Nonetheless, I made sure to make my education a priority and did everything I could to get myself into college. 

I knew at a young age that if I wanted to go to college, I was going to have to do so by myself. I had a deep passion for school and would immerse myself into every subject; however, despite this hard work, my outside responsibilities started to affect my academic life. I decided to join a rowing team solely because it would help my chances of getting into school. And this choice paid off – by the beginning of my junior year, I was proud to be the first in my entire family to get accepted into college. 

person holding white scroll
A lifelong goal – the diploma at the end of a tough and winding road

I was paired with an academic advisor who quickly shut down nursing as my desired major: I was working 40-60 hours a week, was required to maintain full-time status in school, and had to put in 20 hours of rowing practice a week. Reluctantly, I agreed to my advisor’s recommendation that I instead pursue Kinesiology, but knew that it wasn’t the right fit for me. And then, at the height of my athletic career, I was in a car accident which resulted in me losing my scholarship. I now found myself a full-time college student who had to pay for a major that I was never passionate about. I met with another academic advisor in the nursing department, but once again my hopes were shot down. I was told it would be impossible to get into the nursing program because I was a B-average student and had repeated a couple of courses.

I switched into Public Health because, with a degree in this field, it would be easier to get into a nursing program later. It was intimidating for me to switch majors halfway through my college career, but it seemed like the only way to ever get into nursing. Over the next three years, I went in and out of part-time and full-time status in school while experiencing a horrible break up, an assault, and the deaths of three of my family members. 

When I finally reached my senior year I was broken, tired, and unsure of everything going on in my life. I sent out over a hundred emails to nursing schools across the United States explaining my unique situation, and asking if there was any chance that I could get into their program. Most responded positively, and I was willing to go anywhere if that meant that I finally had the chance to fulfill my dream. 

travel nurse
There are so many paths to take in nursing, but I’m glad I chose mine.

While finishing up my last two classes in my public health program, I got a job as a travel nurse recruiter. Approaching graduation, for the first time in my life, I finally had a job that offered me financial stability. I was then faced with another tough decision: Did I want to try to get into nursing school in another state? Or should I stay stagnant in a secure position? I shared my concerns with a manager, who told me that his wife had attended National University, despite having had a similar experience in a traditional college herself. I reached out to an academic advisor at National, and it was the first time in seven years that someone said my goals were possible. I quit my job that week, took the additional classes that were required, and within six months I was officially accepted into National University’s nursing program

I look back on all the obstacles and hardship and can’t help but feel grateful for them, because they led me exactly where I needed to be. I am a year away from completing my dream and have recently been blessed with being accepted into the NU Scholars Program. National University said yes to my goal and put me in the position of success. I am now setting new goals for myself. I want to go for my masters, maintain honors, and give back to the community in any spare time I have. I want to motivate anyone who may be uncertain about their educational and career goals to reach out to an advisor at National University and see just how possible they really are. 

"Push harder than yesterday if you want a different tomorrow" over mountains