Monthly Archives: January 2020

Student Spotlight: Haokun Yang


Yang (third from the left) is looking forward to additional classes in the nursing program; Photo provided by Yang

By Lyndee Johns

When speaking to second-semester nursing student Haokun Yang, it’s clear what drives him: service.

During his time at Minot State University, Yang was highly involved in student government as a senator. He also participated in DECA, a business club. Through DECA, he was able to go to a national conference in Washington DC and compete in a business competition. A period of self-discovery for him, Yang says that he was able to discover that his “passion is really to help people and to serve others.”

The experience that got him into nursing was that of helping to care for his grandmother when she was in the hospital. He says that helping his grandmother and aiding the caretaker was the “first medical experience” that he had.

“And then from that experience I thought, ‘Maybe I can do something like that—to help people, serve others, and to help them feel God’s love through me.”

One of Yang’s favorite moments in the nursing program so far has been the final exam for NURS 294: Health Assessment and Promotion, where he was able to conduct a head-to-toe physical check. “At that moment, I really felt like ‘I am a nurse. I am going to be a nurse.’”

Yang looks forward to taking NURS 320: Scholarly Inquiry into Nursing—a class that focuses on research methodology. “I want to learn more about research,” Yang says. “I believe that experience is going to help me to take care of patients.”

In addition to serving people through the nursing program, Yang has been volunteering at the Y-serve program Anatomy Academy—a program that teaches elementary school students about the parts of the body and how to keep them healthy.

Haokun Yang

Yang has hiked trails in China and in Utah; Photo provided by Yang

In his free time, Yang enjoys reading, swimming, and being outdoors. While at BYU, Yang has been able to hike some of the famous BYU spots, including the Y trail, Provo Peak, and Mount Timpanogos. In China, his stomping grounds include Mount Hua.

Yang describes his hometown as “one of the most ancient cities in China.” Xi’an is well-known for its food and its many historical sites, including the famous terracotta warriors and the Qianling Mausoleum, where the first woman emperor in China, Wu Zetian, is buried.1

After graduation, Yang wants to take on the challenges of working in the ICU. “I like the fast pace and also the demand from that unit, and I also feel like I can keep up with both the physical and mental demands from that unit.”

The most important thing he’s learned so far in the program? “The Healer’s art,” Yang says. “To help the patients feel God’s mercy through the care we provide.”

  1. Traveling Guide China (2018). “Top Ten Things to Do In Xi’an.” Retrieved from

Charlie Rowberry Receives 2019 UNP Outstanding Student Award


Charlie Rowberry (second from the left) represented BYU students and received the UNP Outstanding Student Award.

By Quincey Taylor

Graduate nursing student Charlie Rowberry recently received the 2019 Utah Nurse Practitioner Outstanding Student Award. This award, which is given to particularly dedicated students, shows that Rowberry puts her heart into her work and her compassionate service.

The nursing faculty at Brigham Young University were all impressed with Rowberry and voted to submit her name. All student nurse practitioners in Utah were considered. Rowberry was honored to be selected and hoped to represent the Utah nurse practitioner well.

Rowberry is excited to finish her final semester of didactics and begin her 265 hours of clinical rotation for her last semester before graduation. She says, “It’s been a hard journey, but I’ve loved every minute. I’m so excited to be a nurse practitioner.” In her time at BYU, she has been able to learn so much, including the Utah legislation accompanied by professor Dr. Beth Luthy (see the following article:

Rowberry says, “I work hard and I study hard and I love what I’m doing. I’ve had incredible help from the every member of the faculty here.” She is grateful for all the helpful advice she has received and feels that the professors truly want her to succeed, not only in nursing but in every faucet of her life.

Nurses Empowering Women: A NEW Opportunity

By Quincey Taylor


The creation of this group by students Electra Cochran, Emma Beaumont, and Harper Forsgren promises exciting change to the BYU nursing student experience.

Nurses will inevitably treat more women than men during their career. Therefore, it is vital for them to understand the unique issues that women experience in their lifetimes. To fulfill this need in our nursing students’ education, the Nurses Empowering Women organization was formed.

This group, which welcomes male and female nursing students alike, was started by sixth semester student Electra Cochran. She is truly passionate about women’s health and believes the club’s motto: Helping Women Heals the World. She says, “The goal of this organization is to bring together nursing and Global Women’s Studies.” This doesn’t mean, however, that participants need to minor in Global Women’s Studies at all. All that is required is a desire to uphold women’s health.

Cochran continues, “There are so many bright minds in this program. That’s why having a club where it’s a safe place to talk about sensitive issues will help us come up with a lot of great solutions. We want to know how we can help in the future as professionals.”

The group will meet monthly, having group discussions and activities. Their next event will be hosting a conference on the eighth of February called “Promoting Healthy Relationships” (see flier below). They encourage everyone to go and participate and to bring a plus one.

NEW conference flier

Scan the QR code above to sign up.

The genesis for this group started when Cochran and her presidency counterparts, Emma Beaumont and Harper Forsgren, went on a study abroad together focusing specifically on women’s rights. They were the only students to go on the study abroad, and it was a wonderful opportunity to expand their education. Cochran says the decision to go completely changed her life. She says, “It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my college career. When we came back, it didn’t stop there. We got together with faculty and talked about the things we learned and experienced.” They decided they wanted to make a difference.

Cochran was particularly influenced after a spiritual experience she had. She says, “One day, I was thinking about Eve and how she is fundamental in the plan of salvation. I just felt this power, and I knew that empowering women is something that is eternal and goes beyond this life. Women are essential to God’s plan.”

Their goal is to keep the group solely student-driven. The group name and motto were created after taking suggestions from students. They have felt support from many faculty members, including college advisor Cara Wiley, undergraduate studies secretary Delsa Richards, and associate dean and associate professor Dr. Katreen Merrill.

Club leaders have big plans for the future, including service projects, a book club, and trips to visit church history sites in Salt Lake City.

Cochran concludes, “There is so much value in getting the most out of your education at BYU. This is a perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge of women’s health and to just have fun.”


Differences Make You Better: Dr. Corinna Tanner’s Connection to Terry Johnson’s Dog Driven


Dr. Corinna Tanner provided many of her own experiences for Terry Johnson to use in her book

By Lyndee Johns

“The thing that is sort of funny about this is that anybody that knows me knows I’m terrified of dogs,” says assistant professor Dr. Corinna Tanner.

Considering her role in Terry Lynn Johnson’s book Dog Driven, the statement is truly ironic.

Dog Driven image

Dog Driven was released on December 3rd, 2019; Photo courtesy of Amazon

Dog Driven tells the story of Mckenna Barney, a fourteen-year-old musher who decides to participate in a Canadian sled-dog race carrying a very important piece of mail—her sister’s letter about raising awareness for Stargardt disease. The holdup? Mckenna has been losing her vision to the same disease for the last year, and desperately trying to keep her vision loss from her family and her peers. During the perilous race, Mckenna makes important self-discoveries. “It’s about her journey of grappling with this disability and having the courage to tell people about it, and having the courage to be okay with it,” says Tanner, who has Stargardt’s herself.

While Tanner has, in her words, “perfect peripheral vision,” the disease has affected her central vision—rendering her completely blind in that area.

One of the challenges that comes with Stargardt’s is that recognizing people tends to be very difficult. “And so that makes social situations really awkward and challenging sometimes because you can’t tell the difference between people . . . And in a high school setting where the halls are crowded and you don’t know very many people, it’s very, very intimidating because you can’t tell who people are . . . It can be very socially isolating, and so she captured some of that challenge in the book,” Tanner says.

In 2017, Johnson connected with Tanner though an online blindness support group, asking whether Tanner would be interested in being interviewed. Tanner met with Johnson for interviews over the next five to six months. Johnson asked about Tanner’s experience with Stargardt disease, especially about her experiences as a teenager. Some of these memories, such as Tanner having to move closer and closer to the chalkboard until she had to stand directly in front of it to be able to read it, are included in the book. “But one thing that came out of the interviews that she said she really wanted to capture was my positive attitude about blindness, about my acceptance of blindness. She wanted her character to have that same kind of acceptance and positivity around her disability,” Tanner says.

When Tanner listened to the book the first time, she found herself getting so caught up in the story’s plot and adventure that she actually forgot that she had inspired many of Mckenna’s experiences. “Hearing her experience about what she could see, what she couldn’t see, and how she did it, I was like ‘Oh, that’s just like me,’” Tanner says. “And I was like ‘That is me!’’’


Dr. Corinna Tanner appreciates Terry Johnson’s accurate depiction of Stargardt’s

Tanner describes the main character Mckenna as a combination between herself and Johnson, who has experience with dog-sledding and lives in Canada. But Tanner says that she could take from Mckenna’s example of overcoming fear by applying it towards her own fear of dogs.

While some moments of the book are taken directly from Tanner’s experiences, there are some differences. While in the book Mckenna’s little sister gets the disease first, Tanner says that it was the opposite for her. “In my case, I got it first . . . then my younger sister did develop Stargardt’s too, and hers was more severe than mine . . .  [Johnson] just kind of flipped the story a little bit.”

Tanner also had a slightly different method of coping with her vision loss growing up. “I don’t think I was actively trying to hide it as much as this character was as just trying to suck it up and tough it out, because my parents were busy.”

When Tanner at first noticed problems with her eyesight, she’d chalked it up to needing glasses. And as her mother had her hands full with trying to raise seven young children and caring for a developmentally delayed uncle, it took a year—and a school vision screening test—to find out what was really going on.

Standing in front of volunteer moms and her classmates, the only letter that Tanner could make out on the chart was the gigantic letter E. “And the moms thought I was just being a smart aleck. They thought I was trying to be funny, and the kids thought I was trying to be funny too. So everybody was laughing. And I ran out of the school crying,” Tanner says. The incident led to a trip to the eye doctor, and an eventual diagnosis of Stargardt disease.

Tanner has three main messages that readers should take away from Dog Driven:

  1. “It’s respectable to be blind.”
  2. “Blind people can do most things sighted people can do, but they do it in a different way.”
  3. “Sometimes blind people don’t look blind.”

“It’s important to think about the fact that if someone had known—if any of the adults in her life had known—about her vision impairment, she likely would not have been permitted to join the race,” Tanner says. “And that’s unfortunate. I feel like children with disabilities and people with disabilities are frequently held back from reaching their full potential out of concern for their safety, which is valid, but on the other hand, there is spiritual and psychological and emotional safety too that are important to be considered . . . She could have gotten hurt on the trail, but so could any of the other mushers.”

One line from the book still stands out to Tanner—particularly because it is her own. In Dog Driven, one of Mckenna’s opponents has a lead dog, Zesty, who is visually impaired. However, Zesty is the most hardworking and focused dog on the team. Near the end of the book, Mckenna comes to an earthshaking conclusion: “Zesty is not disabled. Her differences make her better.”1

And that’s what Tanner takes away from it all: “My blindness hasn’t made me disabled. In the end, it’s made me better.”

  1. Terry Lynn Johnson, Dog Driven (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), 242.

Student Spotlight: Laura Fisher


Fisher and her husband; Photo courtesy of Fisher

By Lyndee Johns

Fifth-semester student Laura Fisher lives for the high-pressure situations.

“I’ve only had two codes on my floor,” says Fisher, referring to the medical oncology floor at the Intermountain Medical Center where she works as a CNA. “But I get a clear head when a code comes on and I just kind of know what to do and I’m ready to do it.”

A Utah native, Fisher’s interest in nursing sparked while attending Waterford, a liberal-arts centered private school. Recognizing that she had a multitude of interests, Fisher asked her parents for recommendations on what to focus on. Her parents said that she would make a great nurse. After considering it, Fisher decided to focus on nursing.

Originally her path led her to Westminster College, where she was accepted into the nursing program directly after high school. “I learned a lot, but at the end of the first year, I didn’t feel right about it,” Fisher says.

With five months to go before Fisher’s mission, her mother encouraged her to take a spring semester at BYU. It was then that Fisher discovered her love for BYU, enjoying the uplifting environment and the opportunities to learn at a deeper level.

After her mission to Mexico, Fisher returned to BYU. But her plans hit a temporary snag when she applied for the nursing program and didn’t get in.

But a week later, she received a call telling her that a spot had opened up.

“I was in the middle of Spanish class, and I was sobbing in joy,” says Fisher.  “And I was like ‘This is it . . . Heavenly Father has been directing me this way.’”


Fisher (second to the left) and her clinical group; Photo courtesy of Fisher

One moment that has stood out to her during her time in the nursing program was the first clinical day. “The night before, I was so scared,” Fisher says. But when she went into the day, determined to do her best, she found herself pleasantly surprised. “I was having a ball. I loved it, and the time went super, super fast.”

When she noticed that one of the other girls was having a hard time, Fisher sat down to reassure her. “I said, ‘You just gotta go, just get through the day, and you’re gonna be glad you did.’ And I think it changed her. And it made me feel good because I was talking to myself through her, you know?”

“I know so much more than I did that first day at clinical. And it’s just going to keep going like that. That’s what nursing is, just always learning. You’re always having to prepare and increase your skills.”

Fisher’s compassion and love of talking to people have also served her well as a CNA. When a terminal patient told her she only had a month to live, Fisher was able to provide some comfort. “She was just like, ‘I haven’t been a good person. Do you think there’s any hope?’ And I got to have a missionary experience. I sat down and shared ‘You know, Heavenly Father loves you, and He’s gonna make it work.’”

In addition to being a CNA and a nursing student, Fisher is also a violinist. She continues to take lessons at BYU, and has been teaching violin for the past seven years.

After graduating, Fisher has no intention of giving her adrenal glands a rest. She plans to work either in the labor delivery room, the emergency room, or the ICU. “I want to do the adrenalin-high stuff while I can,” says Fisher. While not positive about her long-term plans, Fisher considers nurse midwife a definite possibility. “I love working with babies. They’re so pure and helpless, and so you’ve gotta help them,” she says.

Fisher’s advice for incoming nursing students? “Don’t compare yourself to other students. Compare yourself to you . . . There’s always gonna be students smarter than you and better at things than you, students that don’t need to study nearly as much as you do . . . But you’re unique. You got accepted for a reason. Trust in your own ability.”

Historic: Meeting Three Ghanaian Chiefs


Traditional Ghanaian chief (center) was happy to meet with BYU nursing students as they asked for his permission to perform health screenings.

By Quincey Taylor

Ghana’s government is a unique mix of modern ideals and tribal tradition. They operate under a parliamentary democracy with a president and a separate judiciary branch. However, the constitution also protects the rights of local tribal chiefs, who demonstrate traditional authority and political influence in a changing world.

There are many different tribes in Ghana, each with their own king or chief. Passed down from father to son, or in some cases mother to daughter, this authority makes the ruler a custodian of the land traditionally owned by the tribe. They retain the culture of the tribe and continue with cultural customs.

When our 2019 Ghana section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course came to Ghana and began their work, they were asked to meet with not one of the chiefs like in past years, but three! This honor was appreciated and felt by all who participated, faculty and students alike.

Assistant teaching professor Dr. Michael Thomas said about the special experience, “We were wanting to do health screenings and we wanted to be as culturally respectful as possible, so we had the opportunity to actually ask the chief and get permission.”

One of the chiefs they met (pictured above) had an interesting story. He lived in the U.S. for years and became a professor. He was living a good life when he heard his grandfather in Ghana had passed away. He was informed that he was next in line to become king. He left behind his job as a professor and returned to Ghana to care for his people. His sacrifice and willingness to serve demonstrates the seriousness of this tradition.

BYU nursing students learned some cultural signs of respect, such as waiting to speak until they were spoken to, giving gifts, and always shaking with the right hand.

The chief responded to the group’s requests with dignity and welcoming words. Our students had the privilege to learn more about another culture and connect with others on the opposite side of the world.

Night of Nursing: A Tradition of Fun


By Quincey Taylor

Hundreds of nursing alumni. Forty locations. One night to remember. March 7, 2019, was the College of Nursing’s sixth annual Night of Nursing at Brigham Young University. This event took place on campus but was broadcast to locations across the country, connecting nursing alumni through a night of fun, laughter, prizes, and inspiring messages.

The idea for this event was sparked to help nursing alumni throughout the nation stay connected to the college while also learning of other nursing individuals in their communities for support and more networking opportunities.

The evening focused on recruited hosts inviting nursing alumni and friends to their home; many sites joined a conference call to learn about current college happenings. Through the video broadcast, each location could view the others, see other participants, and reminisce about university experiences. The message originated on campus and featured a message from Dean Patricia Ravert.

Four hundred and thirty-four BYU alumni, nursing alumni, and friends of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University came together to create friendships. With participants at so many different locations celebrating, this year’s gatherings was the largest collective college-sponsored alumni event to date.


One attendee sharing feedback on a post-event survey said, “We liked seeing those from far away cities. We saw others around the country that we know or went to school with. Thank you for this event to keep us connected!” Another alum wrote, “I loved being able to connect to so many locations and see classmates in other areas!”

Plan to join a party next year on March 5, 2020. The broadcast will feature Dr. Sandra Rogers (BS ’74), former college dean and current international vice president at Brigham Young University; she is also chair of the BYU Women’s Conference. Her message of humor, deep insights, and a powerful testimony will only be available to those participating in a broadcast watch party.

The college is also partnering with BYU–Idaho Nursing to invite their nursing alumni across the nation to participate in their community. This unique collaboration will strengthen both alumni groups as they share the same values, profession, and sponsoring organization of their universities.

Hosts Make Night of Nursing Come Alive

Hosts offered to make Night of Nursing happen in their hometown, wherever that may be. These hosts, who were not paid or compensated, opened their homes to fellow nurses and BYU alumni out of the goodness of their hearts.

Emily Dougall (BS ’05, MS ’12) of Chesterfield, Michigan, was the gracious host for the Detroit, Michigan area. She was inspired to get involved after seeing pictures of Night of Nursing in other locations in 2018. She says, “After seeing friends and fellow BYU alumni post photos to Facebook last year of their Night of Nursing, I’ll admit I had a little Facebook envy. I felt left out. I decided I wanted to make it happen for my area the following year, even though I knew we’d be a very small gathering.” After making the preparations and using the hosting kit provided by the college, Dougall had great success.


Thanks to her employer that provided some supplies, Dougall’s hosting skills excelled as the refreshments for the party resembled a medical clinic lab. There was apple juice in specimen cups (urine collection), marshmallows (cotton balls), licorice ropes (blood vessels), cups of candy (morning meds), and homemade brownies.

She says, “There were five of us—three BYU alumna with myself, Jennifer W. Maruri (BS ’00), and Annette J. Dahl (BS ’05), and two additional nursing friends we know from the area. We had a great night and plan to make it happen again next year. The best part was purely the chance to talk and share our varied experiences in career, educational, and family paths. It is so insightful to see how others use their degrees and how they balance life after their degree. If you are wondering whether you should attend or not, do it! Never miss a chance to connect with someone new.”

North Salt Lake_NONParty

Nurses empathize with each other concerning the various experiences that they have in their line of work. By coming together, nurses strengthen one another and show that each is not alone. Heidi W. Schaber (BS ’05), the host for the Spokane, Washington, gathering, says “I think nursing is a unique profession and one where we can make quick bonds with other nurses who have the same love of service and caring for others.”

Holly B. Simmons, a BYU Humanities alumna from Arlington, Virginia, was the host for a Washington, DC, gathering. She believes it is important for nurses to have the chance to meet and says, “It helps to find other nurses who understand the stress; they provide advice and support to each other.” It was impactful to meet with other BYU alumni and share thoughts about their university experiences. She says, “One of our nurses shared several stories about his BYU professors and what they meant to him.”

Each host is given the liberty to customize their gathering of how they choose. Hosts are encouraged to be creative and celebrate nursing in different ways. Simmons used Night of Nursing as an opportunity to teach stake youth about the BYU nursing program. Opportunities like this can be especially impactful to young people who are still thinking about who they want to become.

Another host shared how her guests opened up to each other and connected. She says, “I invited nursing students, and it lifted everyone. My guests ended up sharing testimonies. It was moving.” Even though this host did not originally plan to have a testimony meeting, the Spirit was felt by all who attended, and she was grateful for the event’s flexibility.

Los Angeles_NONParty

Corrine B. Nelson, a BYU Family, Home, and Social Sciences graduate hosted the event for the Dallas, Texas, area. She went above and beyond by serving dinner while guests shared memories of their time at BYU. Each attendee felt that she cared for and appreciated them, even though she did not study nursing while in school.

Networking is another reason Night of Nursing is so helpful to nursing alumni. Tammy B. Rampton (BS ’05), the host of the Boise, Idaho, gathering, says, “In talking with one another, we were all able to share job opportunities and ideas for different situations and needs as well as just enjoy the feeling of being in a group where you have an instant connection and common interests.” By finding these connections, nurses can find the best opportunities for their careers.

She believes the best part of Night of Nursing was visiting and getting to know other great nurses in her community. “Personally, my favorite part is hearing everyone’s story of what they have done in nursing and life since they graduated. They have worked in a variety of areas and had different ways of balancing nursing with the rest of life.”

College Support

To help make the process as seamless as possible, the College of Nursing staff helps hosts in any way they can. Assistance for advertising as well as potential activities is given to all volunteers.

Once a location is determined, the college sends postcard invitations to alumni in the area informing them of the party details (time, location, host, etc.).

Every host is sent a hosting kit, or party-in-a-box, to make the experience memorable. Included in the kit are BYU swag and prizes, games, balloons, a list of BYU nursing alumni invited to the location, and extra invites. Simmons says her favorite part of the hosting kit was the recipe for BYU mint brownies. Making this dessert brings a little bit of BYU into the event, regardless of where you are.


“As hosts, party-in-a-box makes us feel supported by BYU—we certainly feel unity and the spirit of the Y,” Simmons relates. These gatherings, regardless of the number of attendees, can bring the spirit of the Y into the lives of BYU alumni in your area.

Schaber says, “Hosting a Night of Nursing broadcast watch party is very easy. It is a fun activity that gives you satisfaction and helps you remember the Healer’s art. The evening is also a great way to share your BYU pride.”

You Are Not Alone

There are nurses wherever you go, and many times, a friend is out there waiting to make a connection. Schaber says, “There were more nursing alumni close by than we realized.” Night of Nursing will be continued as a tradition of fun, bringing strangers together and making friends who otherwise might not have met.

The next Night of Nursing is Thursday, March 5, 2020. There are two ways to participate: Host. Let us know if you are willing to host an event in your community by emailing nursingpr@byu.eduAttend. In February 2020, visit to view location details.

Hosts appreciate the party-in-a-box:

The materials and information you need to be successful are provided! (door prizes, raffle tickets, host guide, printed materials for participants, etc.)

The extra invites are great to send out to nurses in the area who are not BYU grads but are interested in networking.

Hosts may use the event to support their community, as an opportunity for youth in the community to learn about nursing as a career, as a university alumni chapter activity, or as a service project to support youth sports programs or collect refugee materials.