Clinicals, class time, projects, homework: nursing students don’t always have a very flexible schedule. Under such a heavy class load, most of us would savor any available free time, hunkering down with a blanket and indulging in a well-deserved Netflix binge. However, two BYU College of Nursing students are taking their free time and doing just the opposite: serving.
Third semester students Johny Jacobs and Elise Millward are involved with the BYU Center for Service and Learning (Y-Serve) and volunteer during their free time. With a rigorous school schedule and time-consuming responsibilities, they are staying busy and learning to put the Healer’s art into daily practice.
As a member of the Y-Serve marketing team, Johny spreads his love for service. He has a conviction that service benefits the community and makes people happy and successful. Y-Serve commitments also stretch him to use available free time more wisely.
“Being in both the nursing program and Y-Serve really help manage my time,” he says. “I procrastinate a little bit sometimes, but having such a busy schedule keeps me on task. When I get an assignment, I’ll have a good estimation of how long it will take me and I HAVE to get it done. If I didn’t have that, I would just be distracted on social media.”
Elise Millward currently serves the program director for Special Olympics at Y-Serve, providing sporting opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It’s a lot of work, but she feels the extra time she puts in serving people outside of class is well worth it.
“Serving these athletes has taught me how to love and how to have compassion,” she says. “I’m gaining valuable skills and it’s so fulfilling to experience their pure, innocent love. It seems like they have less than I do, but in having less they know how to give more.”
Both Johny and Elise know that serving people makes them happiest. Elise also recognizes that her classes and extra service are stepping stones that will teach her how to help others experience the Healer’s art, the same way she experienced it when she was sick.
While on her mission in New Jersey, Elise became quite ill. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome kept her immobile in bed. Mission rules made it difficult to get clearance to go to the hospital. She spent about a week and a half in bed, spoon-fed by her companion, get weaker and weaker.
One night Elise knew that regardless of clearance, she needed to get to the hospital. “I knew that if I went to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up,” she says. “I was going to die. I told my companion, ‘Get me to the hospital now. I don’t care if I’m cleared, just get me there.’”
Elise was rushed to the hospital and placed in the ICU as doctors worked to save her life. Her experience there would have a lasting impact on her decision to become a nurse, and to learn the Healer’s art.
“I remember waking up and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude as I looked up and I saw this really small, young girl who was my nurse,” she says.
“I knew that if the Savior were here, he would be playing her role as I lay on my deathbed. He would be the one who had all the skills to know what to do if my health tanked. He would be the one who was by my side through the night, making sure that I was o.k. He would get to know me and my hopes and dreams. He would make me feel like I really had a future, even though everything was uncertain at the time.”
Despite their sometimes hectic schedules, Johny and Elise couldn’t be happier and plan on helping out with Y-Serve as long as they can.
“Serving helps you focus less on your own needs and more on others,” Johny says. “I’ve found that having a less-selfish perspective really does make me happier. One of my favorite quotes about service comes from Arthur C. Brooks when he said, ‘You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.’ I wouldn’t give up the feeling I get when serving for anything.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Y-Serve and service opportunities can visit yserve.byu.edu