This article by Mary Dalrymple was featured in the Fall 2015 edition of the college magazine.
If you catch assistant teaching professor Karen de la Cruz, MSN, ACNP/FNP, in her free moments, you might just find her practicing the waltz or the cha-cha.
A truly elegant dancer, de la Cruz finds time to master ballroom dance amid teaching nursing courses, working on her doctorate, and serving those around her. “I have a lot of fun in my life—but it has been a long road getting here,” she says.
De la Cruz developed a strong relationship with God as a young girl. Her faith eventually led her to missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later to BYU. “The Lord Faculty Spotlight: Karen de la Cruz Leaving Space for the Lord pushes me in the direction He wants me to go,” she says, “and I have learned to listen to Him.”
She began her nursing career when her husband developed a spinal tumor. She wanted to be able to take care of him and provide for her children. After a priesthood blessing and then surgery, her husband walked away with only a slight limp, and de la Cruz walked away with the nursing education she believes the Lord wanted her to have.
De la Cruz has enriched many lives, including those of her 10 children and 25 grandchildren. In addition to the love she has for her own family, she welcomes the opportunity to care for all who are in need as if they were her own children.
“The Lord puts people in my life and says, ‘Here is someone you should be helping,’ ” she says. “He has blessed me with abundance for a reason, and He expects something from me.”
De la Cruz currently teaches students in their third nursing semester how to use nursing theory and skills in the hospital setting. She loves watching these students as their nursing education becomes a practical experience. She enjoys teaching at BYU because the students truly understand why we go into the nursing profession: to serve and love others as the Lord wants us to.
“As a nurse, you are doing something great. You are the Lord’s hands. If your attitude is right, you can feel Him reaching through you,” she says.
Upon arriving at the university in 2009, a coworker advised her to take a fun class as a way to relax from teaching demands. De la Cruz decided to take up dancing and enrolled in BYU’s Beginning Social Dance course.
“It was painful,” she says about that first dance class. “I didn’t realize I could take a 100-level class and not receive an A. None of the guys wanted to dance with me because they were there to find girls.”
Four and a half years of private dance lessons later, de la Cruz is now a strong and confident dancer, and she feels that she is in the most wonderful time of her life.
“I have learned that if you leave a space for the Lord to direct your life, He will guide you and you will find joy— guaranteed,” she says. “Every struggle I’ve had has helped make me the person I am.”