Spencer Marsh did not know what he wanted to be when he entered BYU in 2010. He took Econ 110 and calculus, but when he left for his mission he was still unsure about where the future would take him.
His mission to the Navajo reservation in Farmington, New Mexico helped him narrow down his options.
“On my mission we helped out a lot of people, and we did a lot of service projects,” Marsh says. Marsh found that he enjoyed helping people, but he still wanted to make a living.
When he returned, nursing suddenly became a viable option since it combined service with a steady salary. After two semesters, Marsh got in the nursing program. That’s when the intensive and occasionally draining experience known as nursing school started.
“It’s been busy, just a lot of work,” he says.
Marsh, a native of Portland, Oregon, struggled during his first two semesters to adjust to the strenuous workload. However, he made an important choice that allowed him to make it through the program.
“After the first two semesters, I decided that I needed to relax and go enjoy life, and the semesters after that were a lot better,” he says.
An avid outdoorsman, Marsh can often be found outdoors climbing or hiking.
Looking back on the past few years, Marsh sees ways that his experience in the College of Nursing has changed him. He loved working with everyone in his semester and doing the various labs in the Mary Jane Rawlins Geertsen Nursing Learning Center. Completing his capstone in ER also helped Marsh learn to love patients rather than judge them.
“It made me more compassionate,” he says. “It made me look at the world differently. It’s made me a little less cynical about the world.” His supervisor also allowed him to work somewhat independently, preparing for his future career.
After taking the NCLEX, Marsh will move to Temple, Texas to work as an ER nurse. His wife is scheduled to give birth to their first child shortly after they arrive there.
Marsh’s advice to incoming nursing students is to “chill out.” Doing so will help them focus and get the most out of their college experience.
“Study and go do fun things,” he says. “Don’t just study.”
Ashea Hanna does not mince words when she talks about her entrance to the BYU College of Nursing.
“I honestly believe it was divine intervention,” she says.
Now three years later, she looks back on her time in the program and sees how far she has come.
“I’ve always wanted to go into healthcare because I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” she says. She had considered being a doctor, but the years and years of study seemed daunting. Her mother recommended nursing. At first she was reluctant since she thought nurses were constantly being bossed around by doctors. Now, she jokes with a smile, she knows “nurses do all the real work.”
She finally decided to pursue nursing since it offered a steady job and the chance to have a family. Her decision was confirmed repeatedly to her as she progressed through the program. One of her most important experiences was sitting in Gaye Raye’s 294 class and realizing just how much this career path suited her.
That’s not to say that the experience has been easy.
“I think that it has challenged me academically, mentally, and physically and emotionally,” she says. “It’s pushed me to my limits and helped me see farther than my potential.”
The sheer intensity of studying nursing helped her to see more of who she is. It’s reaffirmed a lot of what she thought about herself and her abilities, and in other ways it has increased her vision of what she can accomplish.
“It’s shaped me and molded me into who I am,” she says.
One of her best resources has been her fellow students. She says that she loves everyone in her semester and that she has been privileged to make many close friends within the program.
For new students, she offers advice similar to Marsh’s.
“There’s a lot of stress coming in because it’s a prestigious and challenging program and you’re set to a high expectation separate from BYU itself, but you have to take care of yourself,” she says. “The 4.0, even though it’s a nice number, don’t let that be the only thing.”
In her spare time, Hanna goes to ward activities, plays sports, and spends time with friends. She also works. All this combines to help relieve her of the stress that is typical of the program.
Hanna is currently sorting through various job opportunities and working to decide which is best for her.