WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DOES SOMEONE NEED TO BE A SUCCESSFUL NURSING STUDENT-ATHLETE?
I would say that the two biggest characteristics that someone needs to be a successful nursing-student athlete is good time-management skills and knowing when to say no. I say that time management is important as a nursing-student athlete because nursing is already such a time-consuming major itself, but when you add in being an athlete it’s like working two full time jobs. Knowing how to manage schoolwork, and athletics, and a social life is a hard adjustment and even as a sophomore I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s hard practicing 15 hours a week, having two tests, and making sure that I’m able to see my friends and take care of myself. I feel like it’s easy to get burned out as a nursing student-athlete which is also why I think it is crucial to know when and how to say no. At college there are always events going on, people are always going out to dinner and hanging out, but the reality is that sometimes you can’t do those things because you need to study, or you have a meet or practice. Sometimes I say no to hanging out with my friends or going to dinner with them because I am tired; not physically, but mentally tired. I struggle with anxiety and depression and sometimes I just have to say no so I can take care of myself, and I feel like this should be normalized. Are there times where I want to go out and hang out? Yes, absolutely, and when I feel like going out I always do and I have a blast. But if I know that I have a lot of things to do in the next few days or I am just burnt out, I always say no. Sometimes it is okay to be selfish and put yourself first, and as a student athlete knowing when and how to take care of yourself is one of the most important things in my opinion.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES AS A NURSING STUDENT-ATHLETE?
I think that my biggest challenge is time management. I am super involved on campus, and I love to talk, and I get distracted super easy. So sometimes I fall behind with the things that I wanted to do on a certain day. I always eventually get caught back up, but sometimes it just feels like I am in a constant state of catching up on my work instead of feeling like I am on top of everything.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION AS EITHER AN ATHLETE OR NURSING STUDENT?
As an athlete I find inspiration in the fact that there are not that many Black Divers around the country that compete at this level. Swimming and Diving are historically known to lack diversity. So for me, I always push myself knowing that I am helping to break stereotypes and barriers. I also want to inspire Black children and show them that they can do anything that they want to do. I want to show them that if they want to swim, they can swim; I want to show them that if they want to dive, they can dive. I want to inspire these kids and let them know that all their goals are tangible with enough hard work.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR NURSING CAREER?
With my nursing career I honestly don’t really know what I want to do. I have the big picture down but there are still small details that are missing. I know that my long-term goal is to ultimately become a CRNA, and maybe even teach when I’m older. But I also think that I might want to get an MPH or even an MBA before becoming a CRNA. This past summer I did a summer program called SHPEP at Columbia University and we met the Director and Associate Director of the CRNA program. Just hearing them talk about the profession and seeing the joy they had really just made everything click for me. After graduation my goal is to start on a med/surg unit and then transfer to ICU. initially I wanted to go directly into ICU, but my sister is a nurse and I talk to her about her experiences as a nurse. She told me that starting on a med/surg unit and transferring is a good idea because she calls ICU “its own beast” and says that for the new grads she works with it just overwhelms them. I had never really thought about teaching until this year, because lab is always a lot of fun and just hearing stories and tips and tricks from my professors always brightens my day. But the more I think about teaching later in life, the more it seems to make sense in my head. I would want to teach because I would want to give back to the next generations of nurses, and especially nurses of color.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AN INCOMING NURSING STUDENT-ATHLETE?
My advice for an incoming nursing student-athlete is that you are more than capable to be in the Villanova Nursing Program, and a Villanova Student Athlete. Nursing is a hard major, and I feel like it is really easy to feel stupid and not worthy, but you made it into this program. The college of nursing is the most competitive college on campus; so that means that admissions read your essays and saw your drive and passion and decided that you have what it takes to become a Villanova Nurse. Anybody can fill out an excel spread sheet or fill out some equations and write a paper. But not everybody can be a nurse; not everybody can work a 12-hour shift constantly running around making sure your patients are okay; not everybody is able to work in healthcare and advocate for people; not everybody is able to work with terminally ill patients and make them comfortable. But as a Villanova nurse, you are capable of all these things and more. So always keep your head up and affirm yourself everyday by saying “I am smart, I deserve to be here, and I will make an amazing nurse someday.”