I have had a long-term interest in nursing, and I found a nice fit in a Community Health major with a concentration in Health Planning and Administration. Advisors within the Illinois Academic Enrichment and Leadership Program (I-LEAP) in the College of Applied Health Sciences helped me learn more about myself and gave me great ideas on how to advance my career goals. April Carter was especially knowledgeable, honest, and understanding. She helped me find my home-away-from-home. The friendships that I made during my time on campus were incredibly beneficial.

One helpful experience that I had on campus was my Work-Study job in the University Payables department. I worked there for three years. My supervisors and team members were flexible and supportive of my studies. I gained meaningful relationships and work experience, and they wrote letters of recommendation for my current job too. That was a really great experience.

I also participated in LeaderShape in my senior year, which is a six-day, five-night leadership development retreat hosted by the Illinois Leadership Center. It focuses on teambuilding and career development activities. We talked about where we saw ourselves in the future, and developed posters on organizations we would like to create. I created an organization for Alzheimer’s patients to provide relief to families providing daily care needs. The positive feedback and reassurance that I received from my peers was great. It encouraged me to aim for the bigger picture of pursuing a nursing career.

Now I am working as a Clinic Coordinator in the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Radiology Department. I am also picking up some additional science pre-requisite courses in preparation for applying to Masters degree programs in Nursing. I love my job because it provides the flexibility to go to school while also gaining experience interacting with and assisting patients. Being in a hospital setting also gives me a way to build my networks. When it comes time to take the next step, I will have established relationships with people who can write letters of recommendation or let me know about jobs that I can apply for. For now, I’m continuing to focus on becoming an RN. I also know there is more to achieve beyond that.

For those back on campus, I encourage you to use all of your resources. Do things outside of your comfort zone. Network, communicate, and join organizations. The more people you know, the more things you can learn and the more experiences you can explore. Try new things and live your best life in your time on campus.