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Student Spotlight

WCN Stellar Student: Kimberly Williams

Erick Gohdes

Education is the New Currency

Meet Kimberly Williams: a “non-traditional “nursing student at Milwaukee School of Engineering determined to realize her lifetime goal of becoming a registered nurse. Kimberly is a returning college student. Her insights and words of wisdom to students and her own growing children are priceless.

Kimberly’s story: “I always wanted to become a nurse, even before high school. I have been influenced by nursing throughout my life. My mother has been a private duty nurse; my aunt was also a nurse.  I started by taking classes at the community college and was strongly encouraged to get a bachelor’s degree.  MSOE was recommended and it has been a very good fit.  The faculty at MSOE has shown interest in my success since day one. I also feel very supported by my boss.”

Kimberly found working in the emergency department at her local hospital grounded her desire to become a nurse. “I have seen so many ways to make a difference in someone’s life. I see nurses responsible to either stabilize or save people’s lives every day. Nursing has everything to offer and everything about nursing is interesting. “I knew my previous job in IT wasn’t enough for me. I have wanted to learn more.’

Diversity in nursing: “I have noticed how important diversity is in nursing. I feel I bring insight into how patients from the African American culture perceive health, why they may use the emergency room, why some may avoid doctors, etc.  There are not enough culturally diverse nurses to understand the community and its hardships.  Most youth have not been encouraged to push for their dreams and that all things are possible. They need more role models. Younger nurses from different backgrounds need to get out to high schools and middle schools and talk about nursing as a career. High school counselors just aren’t talking about careers in healthcare; more encouragement and advice to young students is needed.

Diversity is also needed within nursing school faculty. Very few faculty members represent the communities of the students. Little is known or addressed to the extra burdens of students from different cultures and economic status. The demands of working, family roles and responsibilities are different. This is especially true if the student is the one exception in the family going to college.”

Advice to other nursing students:  “I think reading keeps me interested and ahead. I think reading and experiencing or applying what I read brings nursing to life. It is more than getting to class and taking notes, for me reading is the key.  I also value the connection between working and being in school. I became a certified nursing assistant after high school. I see the realities of a nursing job. I have no fantasies about life as a nurse. I would recommend that nursing students find a way to either work in healthcare or volunteer to get better exposure to what they are learning in school. Too many young students have no idea what it is like to work in healthcare, in a hospital or nursing home, or clinic. I think we lose many young nurses because of it. They are not prepared for the real world.”

Life as a non-traditional student: “Life is busy, busy, busy!  Nontraditional students are working, raising a family, and being caregivers with many roles to juggle. We do not have any spare time. You must stay organized.  Take one day at a time, and then look ahead from week to week. We cannot focus on ourselves; this is unrealistic.  I think different tracks/schedules for traditional vs nontraditional students make sense.”

Our changing world:  “Times have changed. It was once possible to get your high school diploma, find a job and make a decent living. Not anymore!  I tell my own children ‘education is the new currency.’  You need a college degree to make a good living and provide for your family.  I have two children in college and one graduating from high school. I like to think I have been a strong influence on all of them!”

My word on Nursing Leadership: Kimberly we are awaiting your degree!

Submitted by:

Teri Vega-Stromberg, MSN, RN, ACPHN, AOCN
Clinical Nurse Specialist: Palliative Care & Oncology
Wheaton Franciscan - St. Joseph Campus

Teri is a former member of the WCN Board of Directors & the original author for all Stellar Student articles to date.

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