Category Archives: Events

All Hands on Deck: BYU Nursing Students Onboard the USNS Mercy

By Calvin Petersen

As BYU nursing students and faculty boarded the thousand-bed floating hospital moored in San Diego Bay, they realized their experience on the USNS Mercy was going to be more than just salutes and strict rules. Over the next two days, they had the unique opportunity to see firsthand how the military cares for its veterans.

A Rare Invitation

The San Diego trip resulted from a phone call Dr. Kent Blad received one sweltering morning last summer. Blad is a teaching professor and director of the veteran global health program at the BYU College of Nursing. When he answered the phone, Blad was surprised to hear the man on the other end introduce himself as lieutenant commander of the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship commissioned to serve the Pacific fleet. In addition to supporting military personnel with medical and surgical services, the Mercy undertakes humanitarian relief missions.

The Mercy’s lieutenant commander had read about BYU’s veteran global health course, co-taught by Blad and assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker. He asked, “What can you tell me about what I just read?” “Funny you ask,” Blad replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call.”

By the end of the conversation, the lieutenant commander invited Blad, Hunsaker and their nursing students to San Diego to tour the Mercy and Naval Medical Center San Diego. Naval Medical Center San Diego is one of three major U.S. polytrauma centers that serve wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That was the first time we’ve received an invitation,” explains Blad, “Usually we go out there and beg, ‘Can we please come do this?’ And he asked, ‘Can you please come here?’”

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When the USNS Mercy is en route, nurses do simulations, much like at BYU’s NLC, to keep their skills sharp.

First-class Veteran Care

Although veteran global health students travel to Washington D.C. each spring to tour military medical facilities, Blad and Hunsaker felt the additional trip to San Diego would further enrich the students’ military cultural understanding. What the two professors didn’t know was how beneficial the experience would be for them as well.

“I’ve cared for veterans, but until being with them an entire day and spending that time, it was hard to understand the magnitude of the military in their lives,” says Hunsaker, “It’s a part of them, it’s not just a little job. They’re part of a military family, they have a set of beliefs and they love their country. And they really are willing to do whatever needs to be done to serve it. I don’t think I ever knew, to that extent, and hadn’t felt as grateful as I should to them.”

Jeana Escobar, one of the global health nursing students on the trip, learned that veteran care starts with the basics. “Every Navy sailor we met said the same two things: first, that every veteran has a story and you should take time to listen to it and, second, veterans don’t want your sympathy. Veterans want you to listen to them and tell them what they need to do to progress in the healing process.”

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BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar practices CPR on one of the USNS Mercy’s simulation lab manikins.

Students repeatedly saw nurses’ compassionate care for veterans as they toured Naval Medical Center San Diego’s facilities. A therapist working in the wounded warrior unit even confessed that, after starting work with “these brave men and women,” he would find himself crying randomly because of so much pent-up emotion.

The hospital’s courtyard, which was retrofitted with different terrains and a rock climbing wall for amputees to practice using new prosthetic limbs, impressed several students. “I was especially touched by what the physical therapist shared with us about the rock wall,” says nursing student JeriAnn Pack. “He described how, when someone is discouraged and thinks they will never progress, they can look up and see someone with an injury as bad or worse than their own climbing the wall. I can only imagine how inspiring that would be.”

“The students learned very quickly to appreciate these men and women and the part that nursing plays in helping these veterans recover,” Blad says of the nurses on the Mercy and in the naval hospital. “It truly is the Healer’s art in action. The love they have for their country and their patients is inspiring. We could all be more like that with any of our patients.”

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An Unforgettable Experience

The Navy specifically planned the two-day trip in February to meet College of Nursing veteran global health objectives. In addition to touring the Mercy’s simulation center and hospital facilities for a day, students spent a day at the USS Midway Museum, as well as at Navy facilities on the base. “They really took their time and effort and energy, not only to make us feel welcome, but to help us in educating our students,” says Hunsaker.

To several students, the highlight of the trip was a panel where Navy officers and nurses shared their perspectives and personal stories of how they came to join the military. “It was really cool to see how different everyone was, and that they had all been brought to this common cause,” says nursing student Lauren Bretzing.

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“They don’t have amazing living quarters,” says Heather Wilkinson. Seven nursing students show how cramped living quarters on the USNS Mercy are.

For students like Heather Wilkinson, who had previously interacted with elderly veterans, seeing young men and women recovering from current conflicts changed her perception of what a typical veteran looks like. Other students were impressed with the camaraderie and respect of military culture. Undoubtedly each student thought, as Breeze Hollingsworth did, “Maybe military service will be in my future and maybe not. But one thing is for sure: I want to better serve all veterans and active service men and women I come across.”

Because the San Diego trip was such an all-around success, the Navy has already invited Blad and Hunsaker’s class to come again next year. “We feel very strongly that our nurses need to learn how to care for veterans,” says Blad. “It doesn’t matter where they go or what hospital they serve in, as long as they’re within the United States, they’re going to be caring for veteran patients.”

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Taking Wing to New Heights

By Calvin Petersen

From extreme sports to nursing and humanitarian work, Debra Wing isn’t afraid of trying new things. Now after teaching at BYU’s College of Nursing for 11 years, Wing will again embrace something new: retirement. And considering her life so far, Wing’s retirement will be far from dull.

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Debra Wing (left) and her husband Kelly (second from right) with their three children. Wing says her children and three grandchildren are “the joys of my life.”

Nursing Runs in the Family

Growing up, Wing watched her two older sisters attend nursing school and work at hospitals. As they shared inspiring experiences, Wing thought she would love nursing too.

“I started my freshman year at BYU taking all the nursing prereqs and working in a hospital,” she remembers, “and I kept thinking, ‘I hate this.’”

Wing decided to study business instead at a neighboring college. But before she left BYU, she married Kelly Wing, a military man who had just returned from serving an LDS mission. “We met in a BYU family home evening,” she recalls with a chuckle. After graduating with a business degree, Wing spent the next 10 years as a businesswoman.

“Yet, I always felt something was missing,” she says, “so, with very small children, I went back to nursing school and finished my bachelor’s.”

This was made possible by an opportunity with the military. It needed nurses and was willing to help pay for Wing’s college; Wing needed a job and financial aid. With the added incentive that her husband was already in the Air Force, she joined. “I found out I loved the military,” Wing says, “so I just stayed in.”

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Wing with her sister and nursing professor, Deanna Williams, on graduation day.

Nursing on the Front Lines

One of the things Wing enjoyed most about her military nursing career was doing clinical oversight for EMEDS training. In this role, she instructed hundreds of National Guard and Army Reserve medical personnel on how to provide support in war zones. She also worked with Homeland Security to train national disaster relief organizations on how to respond to every kind of disaster—from hurricanes to hostage situations.

“Something I really loved about my career is that nursing continually reinvents itself,” Wing says, “what we thought we knew about nursing yesterday isn’t what we’re going to know about nursing tomorrow.”

Wing herself was “reinvented” dozens of times during her career as she took on new nursing roles. Perhaps her favorite “reinvention” was becoming a mission nurse for the LDS Korea Seoul Mission in 2015. According to Wing, her mission wasn’t the quietest in the world.

“We were right up by the DMZ, 17 miles from the northern border,” she says, “there were missile exchanges and gunfire right in our backyard.”

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Wing’s husband swearing her in as a United States Air Force officer.

In it for the Thrill

Outside of her nursing career, Wing is an extreme sports enthusiast. “I love anything that’s a little bit dangerous,” she says.

Before she met her husband, Wing’s boyfriend in high school and college was a racecar driver. “Our dates consisted of racing,” she remembers, smiling mischievously. Now one of her favorite things to do is drive cars at 150+ mph. However, since the Autobahn hasn’t come to Utah, she makes do with crawling over Southern Utah rocks in her Subaru Outback.

On top of racing cars, Wing is an extreme skier. In fact, she used to race the downhill and super-G professionally. With her approaching retirement, Wing plans to finally take up the extreme sport she’s always wanted to: skydiving.

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Wing (second from left) and colleague Gaye Ray (second from right) hold up a sign for the anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, established in 1952. The two professors traveled with students, including Erin Marshall (left) and Mike McNeil (right), to Pamplona, Spain, for the International Family Nursing Conference in 2017.

Onward and Upward

Wing’s other plans for retirement include working with several organizations to teach medical education in developing countries. “I’ll be leaving the University, but I’m not leaving nursing,” she says.

Wing has worked with Healing Hands for Haiti and IVUMED in past humanitarian efforts and intends to resume those efforts. “I’m excited to be able to go back and do that,” she says. Furthermore, Wing will continue to volunteer regularly at Provo Food and Care Coalition. She and her husband also want to serve another LDS mission.

Reflecting on her experience as a nurse, she says, “What made my nursing career worthwhile was the opportunity I had to serve people every day. I love that experience of giving of myself. There’s a reward that comes from caring that’s far greater than monetary rewards.”

If she could give her younger self any piece of advice, Wing says it would be to enjoy the journey more. “Don’t spend so much time worrying about what has to get done,” she advised, “I think we can become too serious about the task and forget how joyful the journey can be.”

Wing is proud of her accomplishments at the College of Nursing. In addition to working tirelessly to make the NLC expansion a possibility, Wing has mentored numerous students. “I’m very grateful for the students and I’m very grateful for my colleagues,” Wing says, “Working in the College of Nursing has been a beautiful experience because of them.”

Ribs, Nurses, and Cowboy Boots: BYU SNA Represents College at National Conference

By Jonathan Schroeder

First-semester nursing student Rachel Hawkins looked out at the sea of nursing students in front of her, and sighed with exhaustion. Within 24 hours, there had been a long red-eye flight across two time zones, a hotel check-in and then a full day of networking, keynote speakers, and complex nursing acronyms. The evening brought a much needed rest; but also a newly awakened perspective.

“I had never really realized before just how many different things you could do with nursing,” Hawkins explains. “There are so many different aspects you can focus on – business, travel; the possibilities are endless!”

Hawkins was one of several students who represented the BYU Student Nursing Association at the 2018 National Student Nursing Association (NSNA) Conference in Nashville, TN.

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BYU Nursing Students enjoy a break a between NSNA sessions at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

“It really helped open my view of the level of impact that nurses can have,” fellow first-semester student Izzy Bernal adds. “I realized that my sphere of influence doesn’t have to be just as a bedside nurse, but I can really do a lot of different things.”

For associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston, this kind of reaction has almost become commonplace. Heaston has been the BYU SNA Chapter advisor for more than a decade and has enjoyed helping students prepare for the annual conference since 2007.

“The conference is a bit of a wake-up call for a lot of students,” Heaston explains. “Many students get into the nursing program and then they get so focused on school that they don’t realize just how much there is outside of the classroom. The conference gives them a chance to see just how many opportunities they have for their future career, for leadership and for education — all in this one week-long event.”

More than 3,000 nursing students from across the country participated in this year’s conference. Conference events included TED Talk-style keynote speakers, information sessions about different nursing emphases, SNA officer trainings, and an exhibition hall with recruiters from top hospitals and graduate programs across the country.

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BYU Nursing Student Ashley Dyer with two other nursing students from different parts of the country

“It’s almost like an LDS Women’s Conference for nurses,” sixth-semester student Aimee Schouten explains. “It’s a really neat chance to be with other nursing students and professionals from around the US and feel united, as a profession.”

“The goal of SNA [and the NSNA conference] is to help students have the best opportunity to become the best nurses possible,” adds Jessica Small. “It’s really cool to have that shared purpose with other people.”

BYU Nursing: Learning Through Leadership

The NSNA Conference not only helps develop great nurses, but it also helps develop great leaders. As part of the conference, students have the chance to participate in the NSNA House of Delegates. This allows students to put forth resolutions based on current issues and research. These resolutions can vary from establishing healthcare polices to increasing awareness for certain issues.

“This is how policy changes happen in the real world,” Heaston explains. “Nurses come together and raise their voices within their professional organization and discuss issues that they feel need to be addressed.”

This year, Schouten and Small provided one of the highlights of the NSNA Conference when they presented their resolution to raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses.

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Schouten and Small with their Resolution to Increase Awareness of Sexual Assault Across Campuses to Reduce Victim Blaming and Stigmatization of Rape

Schouten and Small were inspired to present their resolution after discovering that the topic of sexual assault on college campuses had not been addressed in any NSNA resolution over the past five years.

“I was honestly shocked,” Small remembers. “Sexual assault on college campuses is a big problem. Yet all we found in our research were a few resolutions that made reference to sexual assault; there wasn’t anything that actually addressed the problem.”

Inspired by the work of BYU Nursing Assistant Professor Julie Valentine, Schouten and Small drafted a resolution that they hope will increase awareness for the issue of sexual assault in addition to creating an environment that will help nurses provide better care for potential victims.

“The goal of our resolution is to present the prevalence, side effects and barriers that sexual assault victims face in getting the help they need,” Small explains.

Small and Schouten’s resolution contains a number of eye-opening statistics from a variety of sources. They found that not only have one in five women experienced sexual assault while in college, but that less than half of those assaulted actually seek the healthcare they need afterwards.

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Schouten and Small on the floor of the NSNA House of Delegates

“The problem is there is such a stigmatization of rape and victim blaming,” Schouten says. “One of the biggest reasons that people don’t report sexual assault is that they feel that reporting it will change how people see them. It makes them feel worthless and debased.”

“As nurses, it’s our job to help these people get the physical and mental healthcare they need; not only in the workplace, but also in our daily lives,” Small adds. “There’s a lot that we can do to help these victims. Whether we’re acting as roommates, as friends, or as future healthcare professionals — we need to take a stand to combat the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.”

The NSNA House of Delegates unanimously accepted Schouten and Small’s resolution, which calls for their research to be published for NSNA students, as well as at the American Nursing Association (ANA). Not only was the resolution unanimously accepted, but many delegates shared testimonials about how sexual assault had impacted the life of a friend or loved one.

“It felt good to see how many people our resolution could impact just in that room,” Small shares. “We could really tell we were doing a good thing.”

And while Small and Schouten were representing BYU on the floor of the House of Delegates, their classmate, Ashley Dyer was campaigning for a spot on the NSNA Board. Dyer successfully campaigned for and was elected to be the Chair and Western Representative of the NSNA Nominating and Elections Committee (NEC) for 2018-2019.

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Ashley Dyer campaigning for the Chair and Western Representative of the NSNA NEC

“I am very humbled by the outpouring of support from so many nursing students in our nation who, a week ago, had never even heard of me,” Dyer says. “I want to do all I can to help them find the courage and means to easily participate in national leadership opportunities this year.”

Fortunately, Dyer won’t have to travel very far to fulfill her NSNA NEC duties next year. The 2019 NSNA Conference is scheduled for April 3-7, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

“The NSNA conference is a great opportunity for all nursing students; not just SNA board members,” Heaston says. “We hope that all nursing students take advantage of this amazing opportunity to expand their nursing horizons.”

 

Alumni responding to Crisis: When Disaster Struck, BYU Nursing Alumni Answered the Call

The two historic storms slammed into the Southeast coast of United States within mere weeks of each other. The National Weather Service called Hurricane Harvey “unprecedented.”

According to CNN, Harvey dropped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of rain over the course of six days and left a third of Houston, Texas, flooded. Irma was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida in over a decade, dumping more than 10 inches of rain and leaving nearly three-quarters of the state in the dark. Because of the impacts of these storms, the 2017 hurricane season may be the most expensive in US history.

During these hard times of destruction and uncertainty, many people stepped in to help combat the devastating effects of the hurricanes. Among them were BYU College of Nursing alumni.

The Damage

“I was shocked by the impact [of the hurricanes],” says Paige Newman Dayhuff (BS ’16), who lives in the northern Houston area of Conroe. “Along some roads, every house was gutted, and the first floor was bare to the wood framing.”

Dayhuff saw firsthand much of the damage, particularly when officials released water from an upstream dam to prevent it from bursting. Officials told the Wall Street Journal that in Houston alone, at least 136,000 buildings were flooded during Harvey’s rampage.

“The freeways, both northbound and southbound from us, were blocked by water,” she says. “In some low-lying areas, the water had risen over fifteen feet and flooded the freeway entrances and exits. My home as never flooded, but houses about five minutes from us were.”

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Kimberly Coleby Ethington (BS ’99) of Tomboll, Texas, was working at the hospital when Hurricane Harvey first hit.

“I was up on the seventh floor of a NICU/nursery unit,” Ethington says. “We listened to the rain and wind all night. I was told to pack a bag just in case the roads would not be passable to make it back home.”

Ethington did manage to get home, but her neighborhood flooded soon after, preventing her from returning to the hospital for several days. Her coworkers at the hospital fared little better.

“Basically whoever was at the hospital Saturday morning stayed until the following Tuesday or Wednesday trapped at the hospital and flooded in,” she says. “Through the tornado warnings, all babies and parents were moved to one inside hallway and triage room. One floor of the hospital that had not been in use was made available during the storm and up to two weeks after for families of workers who had no place to go. We called it Hotel Harvey.”

Oncology nurse Joanne Grant Dortch’s (AS ’84) own place of work was hard hit as well. “Our clinic lost power for a week, and I was stranded at my house in Kingwood during that time due to flooding,” she says.

The Job

One of the main ways in which BYU nursing alumni responded to the hurricanes was continuing to work as nurses.

The Wednesday following Harvey’s initial landfall, the roads were clearer, and Ethington returned to the hospital to work the night shift as a recovery nurse. The hospital had also flown in several nurses from out of state to address the massive needs that Harvey created.

“I worked several nights in a row and some days on my floor until things got back to normal over the week,” Ethington says. “We did have one baby that could have been discharged earlier, but her parents’ home had been flooded, and we weren’t going to send a preemie to a hotel, so we let the family stay a few extra days rooming in.”

“When we were able to get out onto the roads and to another clinic that wasn’t affected by Harvey, we called all of our patients to check on them, do whatever we could to help, and get them back on their chemo schedules,” says Dortch. “These patients become our friends, and we love them. We were worried about their white cells, red cells, and platelets being low, we worried about pain, infection, having nowhere to live in some cases, and so many other things.”

The Cleanup

Following Harvey, many members in wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rallied to assist in the cleanup. Dayhuff’s ward was one of them.

“Members of our congregation responded immediately to flooded houses, organizing groups to help with people’s homes in the area,” Dayhuff says. “We probably spent about three weeks cleaning out houses, with some people working for up to ten hours every day.”

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Tricia Bunderson (BS ’09)

She explained that members were divided into teams that would help gut homes and help the owners clean. They wore masks to prevent inhaling mold spores or other contaminants. They frequently would walk to the neighbors’ houses right after to offer assistance.

“Sheetrock, furniture, appliances, anything on the first level that had been in the water had to be discarded,” she says. “We piled the waste on the sides of the road. I was just in awe of the number of homes affected. It’s not like a fire, where one or two houses are burned, but whole neighborhoods that were destroyed. I had never been part of a natural disaster, and it was overwhelming to think of all the people affected.”

Throughout all these experiences, BYU nursing alumni proved that the Healer’s art could be practiced anywhere, be it in the hospital or a house ruined by flooding.

“For about three consecutive Sundays we had condensed church meetings, gathering for only an hour and dispersing to cleaning out homes right after,” Dayhuff says. “I loved gathering in our jeans and yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts—there was just such a feeling of willingness to serve and anticipation for being able to help others.”

As a nurse, Dayhuff also served as a “handwashing enforcer” at the sites. She later worked sorting out deliveries of supplies at a donation zone in a converted steel manufacturing warehouse. She says she was overwhelmed by the charity and love displayed by people.

“We had truckloads of donations arriving hourly—food, hygiene supplies, bedding, so many clothes, cleaning supplies, baby products, books, toys. We had everything pouring in,” she says. “After a week of organizing, we opened the facility to those needing the supplies. The flood victims came through with shopping carts and were able to take what they needed according to the number of people in their family. Many of the people had lost everything. I felt so blessed to see their reaction when they received the donations. I wish those who had sent the donations could have seen the gratitude and humility on those people’s faces!”

“Today I got my chance to go help for a few hours,” says Tricia Terry Bunderson (BS ’09). “It was hot. It was smelly. The mold was already setting in. But I’ve never been so happy to get my hands dirty and help strangers who have lost so much.”

Bunderson’s family realizes that the amount of cleanup and rebuilding to be done is daunting, but they know that it takes one day at a time for the city to recover.

“I’ve seen grocery stores stocking shelves as fast as humanly possible, nurses working even though their own homes have been flooded, and oil workers pulling long shifts to get the plants up and running again. This teamwork really pulls at my heart. I am in awe of the hardworking, selfless, and brave people of Houston. We truly are #hoUStonstrong.”

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Sometimes circumstances prevented BYU alumni from being able to work in the cleanup, but their family members attended. The experiences taught them lessons about gratitude.

Amy Culter Benson (BS ’00) lives in Haslet, Texas, almost six hours’ drive time from where Harvey hit. Her husband, an LDS bishop, brought sixty members of their congregation to the cleanup efforts at the invitation of an Area Seventy. Benson had a nursing baby and was unable to go with the crews, but she prepared supplies, babysat kids, and packed lunches.

“They left before dawn on Saturday morning and drove five hours to Port Arthur. They tore down sheetrock, ripped out carpet, removed furniture, clothing, toys, and appliances,” Benson says. “Dave, my husband, felt the words to several LDS hymns they sang in sacrament meeting were especially powerful—‘Because I Have Been Given Much,’ ‘Come, Follow Me,’ and ‘Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.’ It was a powerful experience to be part of a huge cleanup effort like that.”

Ethington found herself in a similar situation.

“As I worked the night shift those first few days when people started cleaning up, my teenagers during the day went out to serve,” she says “They helped families in the neighborhoods close by that we knew at first. The weeks after we joined Helping Hand crews to help muck out homes further away. It was a memorable experience for our family.”

Some of the College of Nursing’s other Helping Hands volunteers were Rachel Camille Stewart (BS ’00) and her family. Although the Stewarts’ home in Augusta, Georgia, is more than 100 miles from the coast, the Stewarts have already helped clean up after five hurricanes, sometimes spending as much as eight hours traveling to reach impacted areas. Like Benson, Stewart has usually stayed at home with the kids while her husband and two teenage sons have gone to work clearing debris and fallen trees.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma—just two weeks after Stewart’s husband was called to be a bishop—an Area Seventy asked for volunteers to serve in inundated Jacksonville, Florida, which experienced its worst flooding in almost 100 years.

Stewart says their story is not unique. For years, many of their LDS neighbors have also answered the call to help in areas across the Southeast.

“The blessings of laboring in the service of others brings such joy that the youth in our area jump at the chance to participate,” Stewart explains. “Even though the work is long and difficult, the people served are always so grateful for the cheerful service provided. Truly it is a blessing to be able to literally and figuratively lift the burdens of our brothers and sisters in need.”

Steven Tibbitts, Jonathan Schroeder, and Jeff L. Peery contributed to the research and writing of this article.

Volunteers at BYU Craft 301 Yarn Wigs for Children Battling Cancer

By Calvin Petersen

More than 500 people sacrificed sleep and St. Patrick’s Day plans to make yarn wigs for child cancer patients at the Magic Yarn Project’s largest-ever wig workshop. Co-hosted by the Magic Yarn Project and BYU College of Nursing, the event on March 17 was the second workshop of its kind.

“No one leaves these workshops without a smile on their face or without feeling like their simple act of love will make the world a better place. I love being able to witness that in their countenances,” said Holly Christensen, BYU alumna and co-founder of the Magic Yarn Project.

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The Magic Yarn Project began in 2015 when Christensen crafted a yarn Rapunzel wig for her friend’s daughter, who had lost much of her hair in chemotherapy. Now three years later, the Magic Yarn Project has made the world a better place for over 7,000 children battling cancer in 36 countries. Each of these children has received a hand-made princess or pirate yarn wig at no cost. Wigs take approximately two hours to make and are crafted by volunteers at wig workshops.

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Wig workshop volunteers pose with 301 completed wigs after the service event on March 17, 2018.

“It was a huge success!” Christensen said of this year’s BYU wig workshop. While most of the wigs will be distributed by BYU nursing students during their clinicals at Primary Children’s Hospital, Ryver had the chance to choose her wig in person. She wore an Anna wig and a wide smile as her mother pushed her around the Wilkinson Ballroom in a stroller. Not even three years old, Ryver was diagnosed with leukemia only a few months ago.

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“It was heart-warming to see Princess Ryver light up when she got her wig, and equally rewarding to see her mother get excited about picking out a wig with her. Ryver’s presence definitely made the workshop memorable and was a sweet reminder that this is what the project is all about,” said Christensen. For her, the experience of personally gifting a wig was rare; most wigs are mailed to individuals and cancer centers around the world.

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The wig workshop at BYU brought the community together. Among the hundreds of volunteers knotting, braiding and decorating yarn hairpieces was 17-year-old Connor Munden. His grandmother’s involvement in the Magic Yarn Project Utah Chapter inspired an Eagle Scout Service Project to prepare for BYU’s workshop. Along with family and friends, Connor cut most of the yarn—thousands of feet of it—that eventually became 301 completed wigs.

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In addition, students from BYU and members of the Magic Yarn Project Utah Chapter volunteered to teach those coming to the workshop how to make various wigs. “This event helped me realize there are lots of different ways to serve those with cancer,” said Maggie Gunn, a BYU nursing student and wig instructor at the workshop, “We may not be able to cure their cancer, but we can provide comfort and love which, in my opinion, is just as important as the chemo.”

“With the Magic Yarn Project, there’s something for everyone,” concluded BYU nursing student Jessica Small, “Whether bedazzling flowers or tying yarn to a wig, people of all ages can come together and make a difference in the lives of so many children.”

Next year’s BYU wig workshop will take place on March 16, 2019. To learn more about the Magic Yarn Project, visit www.themagicyarnproject.com.

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“Everyone knows someone who has struggled with cancer: a family member, friend, patient or ward member. While we can’t cure someone’s cancer, we can help, comfort and love them. Making these wigs is a way to show child cancer patients that they’re loved,” said Jane Goodfellow, a fourth-semester BYU nursing student. Goodfellow (right) is pictured with fellow nursing student Leah Guerrero (left). The two volunteered as instructors at the wig workshop.

 

 

Compassionate Individuals Receive College DAISY Awards

The College of Nursing recently partnered with the DAISY Foundation to recognize assistant teaching professor Gaye Ray and nursing student McKenzie Weir for their extraordinary compassion.

The DAISY Foundation is a non-profit organization, established in 1999, by the family of Patrick Barnes. Barnes died from complications of the auto-immune disease, Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (or ITP,) at the age of 33. Like many families that experience loss, the Barnes family decided to do something positive to honor him. After his death, the Barnes family founded DAISY—an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System—to thank nurses who cared for Barnes and recognize exceptional nurses around the world.

DAISY Faculty Award

Assistant teaching professor Gaye Ray received the DAISY Faculty Award with nominations from four different individuals. Their reasons for why she is deserving echo her compassionate personality.

“Nothing feels better than when professor Ray is proud of you. The day is a little brighter after talking with her,” says McKenna, a BYU nursing student. Other students had similar things to say about Ray.

Annie shared, “Gaye values the unique gifts of others by helping us see that we all have different gifts and talents and can use them to help our careers in the future.”

Madeline added, “Gaye is the reason why I stayed with nursing when I was certain I would quit. Her compassion, intellect and zeal for nursing inspired me to want a life like hers, a life where she creates happiness and spreads it wherever she goes. Not only is she brilliant, but she doesn’t act like she is better than anyone else. She sincerely cares about each person and works so hard to make the world better.”

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“First and foremost, Gaye loves Jesus Christ,” said Maggie, “It’s because of that love that she is so ready and able to love those around her. She pushes all of her students to be the best they can in a kind and compassionate way.”

DAISY In Training Award

In addition to honoring a nursing faculty member, the College honored nursing student McKenzie Weir with the DAISY In Training Award. Weir believes in looking out for individuals who need a friend or simply a kind smile to make it through the day. She feels that taking time to remember someone’s name is important and follows this practice with peers, classmates and people she meets at church.

Kayla Smith, the nursing student who nominated Weir, wrote, “Kenzie is always the one in class to keep things in perspective and reminds those that struggle that they are cut out to be nurses. She follows up on personal situations and offers support to her peers—perhaps that poster child for seeking and giving help!”

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The College of Nursing congratulates Gaye Ray and McKenzie Weir for this significant recognition.

Future DAISY Awards

Each January and September, the College of Nursing asks for peer nominations for DAISY Faculty and DAISY In Training Awards (watch nursing.byu.edu for details). The call for submissions is your opportunity to nominate a nursing professor or student that demonstrates compassion and personifies “the Healer’s art.” Recipients will be awarded at our Scholarly Works and Contribution to the Discipline Conference in October and at the BYU College of Nursing Professionalism Conference next February.

Nursing with the Stars

By Jonathan Schroeder

Grace, poise, attention to detail….and all while wearing two-inch heels under what feels like a pound of facial makeup and blazing 100-degree stage lights. Ever since she was 10 years old, that’s been Janica Holden’s world, as a competitive dancer and now as a member of BYU’s prestigious Ballroom Dance Company.

Over the past two years, Holden has graced the dancefloors of the National Dancesport competition in Provo, performed in front of thousands in Argentina and Chile, and has appeared in viral videos alongside BYU Vocal Point and Studio C.

“I’ve done ballroom since I was so little that sometimes I just think that that’s just how life is, Holden says. “I mean, doesn’t everyone go to practice after school? I forget that that’s not always normal.”

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Holden and her husband, Matt, at the finals of the 2018 Amateur Smooth National Dancesport Championship

Holden started dancing competitively in 4th grade as part of her school’s ballroom program. Eventually, she joined BYU’s Youth Program and began competing in the annual Dancesport competitions at the BYU Marriott Center.

“As a kid, I think my favorite thing about dancing was practicing,” Holden recalls. “Most people like the competitions, but I just liked being able to practice, work hard, and feeel like I was improving. I felt like an Olympic athlete who was constantly training. I enjoyed driving myself to be better.”

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Holden’s practice paid off. During high-school, she was granted a scholarship to be on the back-up tour team for the BYU Ballroom Dance Company where she excelled in the smooth and standard dance genres. Now two years later, Holden has become one of the stars of the Ballroom Dance Company tour team. This past summer, the team dazzled South American audiences during a tour of Chile and Argentina.

“I love all the people we get to meet on tour,” Holden remarks. “While we were in Chile and Argentina, we had a lot of opportunities to interact with other dance groups. Even though I didn’t speak Spanish, it was cool to be able to dance with them and experience the culture through dance.”

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Janica and Matt competing at the semi-annual Dancesport competition

Life on the tour team is no cakewalk. Each show contains around 13 specific dance numbers; each one requiring extraordinary amounts of grace and technical skill. Before the tour even begins, team members devote countless hours to practicing and perfecting their routine. Once on tour, the focus then turns to setting up lights and sound, applying make-up and elaborate costumes, and engaging with the audience. By the end of the tour the dance team will have repeated this process nearly 12 times.

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Holden and the Ballroom Dance Company pose with Broadway starlet Kristen Chenoweth
after their performance on BYU Homecoming Spectacular 2017

“For me, dancing is a way of expressing yourself without using words,” Holden reflects. “I love being able to dance on the floor and perform, but at the same time still be in my own little world. I don’t like telling people how I feel; I prefer to show them.”

As if her life didn’t seem busy enough, Holden also finds ways to express herself off the dance floor by practicing the Healer’s Art. A second-semester nursing student, Holden loves actively helping people and is thinking about working in an ICU after graduation.

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Holden and her first-semester classmates during the semi-annual Blood Pressure Clinic

“As much as I love dancing, it’s kind of a crazy world to get into,” Holden says. “I knew if I wanted to have a family someday, I’d have to find something else.”

So during her senior year of high-school, Holden decided to do an internship on a hospital Coronary Care Unit (CCU). She absolutely loved the experience, and made the decision to pursue a career in nursing; at about the same time that she was offered the Ballroom Dance Company scholarship.

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On any given weekday, Holden will spend two to four hours practicing with the team and separately with her dance partner. This is on top of her rigorous nursing course-load, clinicals, and a part-time job working at a tax office. When asked how she manages to find time to get everything done, she says the secret is in the planning.

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Holden with the cast of the Studio C Sketch, “One Last Dance”.
Her husband, Matt (not pictured) is also featured prominently in the same sketch.

“My calendar is my best friend,” she explains. “I have to have things very planned out; I can’t just “go with the flow”. I have to know when I’m going to do things; homework time, dance time, etc. because if I don’t plan it out, time escapes so quickly. When I take the time to plan things out, it’s amazing how everything just fits in.”

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Holden and her husband on the set of Vocal Point’s hit music video, “Beauty and the Beast”.
Holden had the special opportunity to give Lexi Walker some dance pointers during the filming.

Sadly, Holden says her competitive dancing days are probably coming to an end once she and her husband (and Ballroom dance partner), Matt, graduate from BYU. However, until then, she says she plans enjoy the time she has with BYU’s diverse dance program.

“One thing I love about BYU’s Ballroom program is that there are so many different levels and options available. You can do anything from taking basic 100-level dance classes to trying out for upper level tour teams. Whatever you feel like you can do, there are options for it.”

Janica and Matt will be performing in the BYU Dance in Concert Showcase at the BYU Marriott Center on April 6 and 7.