One by one, prospective students at the third Nursing Success! Seminar stood up in a classroom at Samuel Merritt University to share the story of why they want to become a nurse.
A 43-year-old mother of twins spoke first. “It makes me feel good to make others feel good,” she said.
A middle-aged man who worked in a biotech lab followed. “I want to give more of myself to others,” he said. “I want to help people when they cannot help themselves.”
“I’m choosing nursing school over med school,” said a professional bicycling mechanic, “because it will allow me to work with more people one-on-one.”
Over the course of three days, June 10-12, more than 40 prospective students from varied backgrounds shared their personal stories, got an in-depth look at SMU’s nursing programs and facilities, and learned about the University’s commitment to diversify the student population.
“The purpose of the seminar is to diversify our applicant pool,” said Anne Seed, Associate Director of Admission, “which can then help diversify the nursing workforce. Our faculty, staff and administration are dedicated to creating an inclusive and diverse environment on campus, as well as one in the healthcare community outside the campus.”
The attendees, who ranged in ages from 19 to 45, had all completed at least two years of college, and many had decided it was time to make a life-changing career shift. According to Minority Nursing Association, it’s estimated the registered nursing workforce is 85 percent female, 9 percent African American, and 4 percent Hispanic or Latino.
Ayisha White, 30, of San Jose, attended after learning about the program on the University’s web site. White, who is African American, had earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and worked in the banking industry. Though already successful in her career, “I was left feeling like I wasn’t making a difference in people’s lives,” White said.
To get that hands-on experience, White volunteered at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, where she worked in a hospital with children. “I saw firsthand what impact a nurse can have on people,” she said. “And I saw that I could do it. It felt like a natural fit for who I am as a person, and what I can offer to others. I saw that for me, nursing is not just a passion. It’s a call.”
The prospective students heard presentations from Audrey Berman, Dean of the School of Nursing (“Succeeding in the Changing Healthcare Landscape”), Aara Amidi-Nouri, Chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and the school’s Diversity Director (“Discussion on Health Disparities”), Rhonda Ramirez, Director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program (“International Nursing”), and Che Abram, Assistant Director of Admission and Diversity Recruitment (“Exploring Diversity at Samuel Merritt University”)
“We want you to bring your stories with you,” Abram said. “We respect our differences and realize that’s what makes us a community. We want you to bring a strong voice, speak your mind, and be an advocate for yourself.”
At the end of the three-day course, White said she looked forward to applying and entering her new career.
“The seminar inspired me to go forward,” White said. “It rejuvenated me in feeling like this is a path I want to go on, and confirmed this is the place I can do it.”