Category Archives: Inspiring

Student Spotlight: Elina Chun

By Quincey Taylor


Photo of Elina Chun. Photo courtesy of Quincey Taylor.

Even though she only stands at four feet and eleven inches tall, BYU College of Nursing student Elina Chun is a giant within her field and has big plans and dreams. Graduating this December, Chun reflects on her journey at BYU with fondness and looks forward to the future with anticipation.

Chun is part of the Honors Program for BYU students. She is one of two current nursing Honors students, and one of seven nursing students that have completed the program in the last decade. This program, whose aim is “to develop student-scholars from across the university who will become broad thinkers, creative problem solvers, and influential leaders” was a vital part to Chun’s experience here at the university. Chun took honors GE’s, went on a study abroad as part of her experiential learning, and created and defended an Honors Thesis. Her thesis, titled “Student Perspectives on Working in Interdisciplinary Teams to Improve Maternal and Newborn Care Using mHealth Solutions” will be published at the end of the semester.

Chun decided to enter the Honors Program because she always knew she wanted to go to graduate school. Defending a thesis while still an undergraduate seemed like a great way to prepare in a safe environment. She also loved the idea of interdisciplinary learning. She has enjoyed associating with professors and students in different areas of study. Chun also decided to do a business minor to be more well-rounded.

Service is also an essential part of Chun’s everyday life. Her personal mission statement – To give my best self to help others because of Him – inspires her to serve at every chance possible. She has been a program director at Y-Serve for the past two years. Before that, she served a mission in Tokyo, Japan. Balancing all these aspects of her life is something that Chun considers one of her strengths.

When asked how she chose to go into nursing, Chun expresses how she always wanted to build a life of service for herself. She was influenced by her father, who is a doctor as well as one of the most patient and kind men she knows. Plus, she laughs, “My favorite book when I was a kid was an anatomy book.”

Chun hopes to leave a legacy of service and inspire others to achieve great things. Her advice to the incoming generation of nursing students is that “Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will inspire you to know your gifts and talents. Then you’ll be able to know what to do with them.”

After graduation, Chun plans on continuing working doing pediatrics at Primary Children’s Hospital. She has enjoyed working in the float pool there and experiencing something different each day. She is currently applying to graduate school at the University of Utah.

For any students that are interested in doing the Honors Program and broadening your perspective, please contact Dr. Deborah Himes at She would love to help you in any way possible.



Honoring Veterans on a Utah Honor Flight

By Mindy Longhurst


An image of Sandra Rogers and Mary Williams with their veterans before leaving for Washington D.C. Image courtesy of Rogers.

Once a year, the College of Nursing sponsors a Utah Honor Flight. An Honor Flight is meant to recognize and show appreciation for those who have served and sacrificed for our country. During this experience, these veterans are each assigned a guardian to take care of them. The veterans fly from Salt Lake City to Washington D.C. where they are able to look at many historical and memorial sites for the wars they served in.

This year, we had nursing students and faculty members participate in the Utah Honor Flight. Also in attendance was Sandra Rogers, the International Vice President for Brigham Young University. Rogers is the former dean and nursing alum of the College of Nursing.

Both Rogers and associate professor Dr. Mary Williams had uncles who made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in the service of their country. Because of these experiences, both were raised in homes where gratitude and appreciation for those who have served our country were readily expressed.


An image of Rogers with others at the WWII Memorial at the Washington Mall. Image courtesy of Rogers.

Sandra Rogers’ experience

During their time in Washington D.C., the veterans and guardians were able to visit many historical and memorial sites. They first visited the National Archives Museum, where the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are showcased. Rogers explains how impactful this was for the veterans, “I did not anticipate how much the veterans appreciated seeing the archives. It was like it was in their patriotic DNA, it was part of one of the reasons why they had served. These were the documents that set out the freedoms that they were defending and what they were fighting for.”

Following the National Archives Museum, they attended the WWII Memorial where Congressional Contingency from Utah were there to greet the veterans and express their appreciation. While in Washington D.C., they also visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial, Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key penned “The Star Spangled Banner” and they were able to attend the Arlington National Cemetery.

Throughout her experience with the Utah Honor Flight, Sandra Rogers was constantly amazed by the organization and efficiency of the program. There was always someone to help with food and travel. She was impressed with teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad who organizes the event for the College of Nursing global and public health nursing course practicum. Being a veteran himself, Blad has a love for those who have served this country, and that was evident throughout the entire experience.

The ultimate lesson that Rogers was able to learn was about the importance of gratitude. It surprised her during the Honor Flight experience how complete strangers would come up to the veterans and individually thank them for the service and sacrifice they made for this country. She was amazed by the crowds of people in the airports with signs and banners cheering for the veterans. She says, “I looked at these veterans on the bus and I thought about the families that worried about them, the families that prayed for them while they were gone, the families that hoped heaven would watch over their loved one while they were providing this service.” After this experience, she now says that she is more motivated to approach a veteran and ask where they served and to give thanks for their service.


Image of Williams and Rogers and their veterans at the Korean War Memorial at the Washington Mall. Image courtesy of Rogers.

Mary Williams’ experience

Williams loved the experience that she had during the Utah Honor flight! A moment that she remembers clearly is when the veteran for whom she was guardian visited the Lincoln Memorial. Her veteran served in the Korean War and is an artist. He really wanted to observe the artistic beauty of the Lincoln Memorial. She says of this experience, “At the Lincoln Memorial, my veteran was so desirous to view the Lincoln Memorial. That day the elevators were broken, but he was determined to climb the many steps to the top so he could experience the memorial and he did so with great energy.”

Williams expressed how life-changing this experience was for her. She was able to take the time to learn about their war stories and to learn about their lives. She says, “My life has been changed forever. I was again reminded that freedom is not free. The price for freedom is paid with blood, tears, loss of life and sacrifice of families. I was indeed overwhelmed with gratitude for the men and women who sacrifice so much. Truly, this experience was one of the highlights of my life with love of country and freedom etched on my heart forever and gratitude for those who keep it free never to be forgotten.”



Student Spotlight: Angela Nickerl

By Mindy Longhurst

Angela with little girl

Image of Angela Nickerl with a girl from her Ghana public and global health nursing course practicum. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

Being a non-traditional student (a student 30 years of age and older) at BYU can sometimes be challenging. But, College of Nursing fifth semester student, Angela Nickerl loves the experiences she has had as a non-traditional student. Nickerl is older than most BYU students, but loves the opportunity to share the wisdom she has gained throughout her life.

Ever since Nickerl was in high school she knew that she wanted to become a nurse. She says, “Throughout my experience being a mother in healthcare, I noticed that the nurses made a huge difference and impact on their patients.” Nickerl’s journey to becoming a nurse was very spiritual. She loves to learn about the body. Taking care of someone who is sick is a spiritual experience that brings her closer to God.

Nickerl started taking some nursing prerequisite courses while her family was living in California several years ago. When her family decided to move to Utah, she was able to apply to BYU and the nursing program and was accepted into both.

familyAn image of Nickerl’s children. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

At the time that she started at BYU (January 2016) three of her children were going to college. Now, all five of Nickerl’s children are currently going to college. This helps Nickerl to be able to relate more to her children. Nickerl explains, “It is interesting having my children in school with me at the same time. It can be stressful because we are all stressed about midterms and finals at the same time. But, this has helped me to be able to relate to my children so much more!”

Overall, Nickerl has enjoyed her time within the nursing program. She expounds, “I love the nursing program at BYU! Often in the middle of a busy semester it is difficult to find positive things because you’re tired. However, in spite of being tired, one of my favorite parts of the program is that our professors truly embrace our school motto, learning the Healer’s art. We are taught that in every setting, we should care for people the way the Savior would. Reading a nursing textbook and studying for the NCLEX is going to be the same regardless of where you study, but at BYU we are taught our nursing skills from a different perspective. Not only are we encouraged to view our patients differently, but our professors model it by treating us that way. I think they are phenomenal examples of what they teach about the Savior.”

group photoImage of Nickerl with other nursing students. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

Nickerl has some advice for those who are non-traditional students. She says, “Being a non-traditional student, I feel like I value what I am learning more because it really is my choice to be here. Sometimes when you are younger you do it because it is the social norm. As someone older, this is not the right thing I am supposed to be doing with my life. A lot of people are often surprised when they find out that I am a college student. I am grateful for the things that I am learning, because I am choosing to be here.”

Another lesson she has learned is the importance of balancing her schedule. She explains, “If you absolutely know that you are supposed to be doing school and you know that the Lord is supporting you in it, then it all fits. If you are doing what the Lord wants you to do, if you are putting your priorities in order, if you are attending the temple, serving in your church calling, if you are putting your family time first, then Heavenly Father makes it fit. That is something that I have felt over and over again. And I feel like my relationship with the Savior has been strengthened as a result of nursing school.”

In the future, Nickerl hopes to become an oncology nurse.


Experiencing the Czech Republic

By Mindy Longhurst


The 2018 Czech Republic public and global health nursing course practicum class.

College of Nursing students at Brigham Young University are able to learn more about the Czech Republic’s healthcare system during the Czech Republic public and global health nursing course practicum. For three and a half weeks the nursing students are able to learn and experience the Czech Republic. Formerly a part of communist Czechoslovakia (a satellite state of the Soviet Union), the Czech Republic and its healthcare system have undergone dramatic changes since the country became independent in 1993. The healthcare system is socialized, so it is required for all citizens of the Czech Republic to have health insurance.

Assistant teaching professor, Petr Ruda, is a native of the Czech Republic. He loves the opportunity to be able to teach the nursing students about the culture and let them experience elements of his home country. He explains, “The overall experience was great! All of the students were excited to try new things and be exposed to new environments and cultures. They were able to learn about traditions and learn about the memorials that we visited.”

One of the biggest challenges for the students is the language barrier. Ruda expounds, “The language is difficult, it is a Slavic language. In the bigger cities most people speak English, then we go to the medium sized city where they speak less English, we end at a small village where there is not a lot of people who speak English fluently.” This can sometimes make it difficult for the students to fully understand what is happening. But, this amazing opportunity allows the nursing students to be able to depend on their smiles and gestures to explain what they are doing and how they are feeling. Relying on their nonverbal skills teaches the nursing students the importance of body language, a vital way to express communication.

ptr 2.0Assistant teaching professor, Petr Ruda, in the Czech Republic.

While in the Czech Republic the students work closely with the local nurses and are able to learn more about the complementary and alternative medicine treatments that are used regularly in the Czech Republic. Ruda says, “As part of the health insurance, you can qualify to receive a coupon or receive paperwork for a special treatment. The treatment is done in localized, special clinics. What that means, if you have really bad asthma, you may be advised by your primary care provider to spend some time in a certain area that is specialized for asthma patients.”

For the first time this past spring, the 10 students on the Czech Republic public and global health nursing course practicum were able to attend the Auschwitz concentration camp from WWII. This experience was able to give the students a greater perspective and taught them more about the holocaust. Ruda explains, “We go to help our students understand what has happened and how to stop it from happening again. Auschwitz was the darkest place I have ever seen and experienced. Auschwitz and the holocaust needs to be told and explained to the nursing students. It needs to be taught and shared so this never happens again. The concentration camps still effect those who are in the Czech Republic.”

Another experience that these students are able to receive is the ability to teach the nurses and local nursing students about the healthcare in the United States. Compared to the United States, the nurses in the Czech Republic are understaffed. One student says, “The biggest difference we saw was a lack of nurses. And the nurses who were there had huge workloads and appeared to be underpaid.” In the United States, the nurses have more flexibility in patient care, while in the Czech Republic nurses are more restricted on patient care.

Getting to know a different culture helped the students not only to gain perspective on different countries’ healthcare systems but also to appreciate its citizens, customs and historical events. The students and faculty members who are able to attend the Czech Republic public and global health nursing course practicum, leave the country feeling like they better understand a different culture and are grateful for the many different experiences they had.

Riley Mattson Receives the DAISY In Training Award

By Mindy Longhurst

Riley 1 - Edit - IMG_4967Image of Riley Mattson receiving her DAISY In Training Award.

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.

The DAISY In Training Award is given to an extraordinary nursing student twice a year at the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University. Riley received nine nominations for the award by her fellow students. One student says, “Riley is one of the most compassionate and loving people I know. She is consumed with the light of Christ and shares that light with everyone around her. Riley serves others with a pure love every day.” Another student claims, “Riley is one of the nicest girls I know. She has a genuine interest in everyone around her, whether they are patients or fellow students. I was in her clinical group for our pediatric rotation and I remember that after she spent a day in the Neurotrauma unit at Primary Children’s, she told us about how she had cared for a young girl who was in a lot of discomfort and whose family and nurse weren’t working to comfort her. She sat with the patient on the edge of the bed and comforted her, showing care for the patient and also modeling for the patient’s family how to provide reassuring care for the patient. This is just one example of Riley going above and beyond to show love and care for the people she’s surrounded by.”

Riley 3 - Edit - IMG_4985Image of Mattson with her family.

Other students explain that she has a “contagious smile” and that her positive attitude is what keeps them going throughout the day. Mattson received the award at the annual scholarly works conference on Monday October 15, 2018. Mattson feels honored to be nominated to receive such an award and continues to look forward and do her best to exemplify Christ in everything she does.

Watch our video about Mattson earning the DAISY In Training Award:

Three Nursing Student Experiences with Ohio Internship

By Mindy Longhurst

all threeImage of Christin Hickman, James Reinhardt and Cortney Welch at The Ohio State University. Image courtesy of Hickman.

Three College of Nursing students were able to research with some of the best mentors in the field of cancer research this summer with The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). The experiences that they had this summer were once in a lifetime (to learn more about how they received the internship opportunity read our previous article Christin Hickman, Cortney Welch and James Reinhardt were able to work with a team of fellow researchers on a certain topic about cancer or cancer-related research. The team that they worked with involved a statistician, a PhD supervisor and a few other research students. In Ohio, a study was conducted that focused on a wide range of health topics, from this information each of the students focused on one aspect of the questionnaire for possible correlations. Following the summer’s research, they worked on publishing an article about their research and presented to a room full of PhD professors on their research findings.

templeImage of Christin Hickman and others at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Columbus, Ohio temple. Image courtesy of Welch.

Christin’s experience

Christin Hickman, a fourth semester nursing student, wanted to participate in this internship experience to see if she wanted to do research full-time in the future. During this time, Hickman focused on colorectal cancer, which is a very preventable form of cancer through regular colonoscopy screenings. Hickman was able to see if there was a difference in knowledge and awareness of colorectal screening rates for those who live in urban areas versus rural areas. Through studying and research, she discovered that in Ohio there is little difference in the knowledge and amount of screenings in rural versus urban participants. The experiences that she had in Ohio helped her to prepare for the future and understand more about how research works. Hickman explains, “This experience helped me to secure my destiny. It feels like research is really what I want to do with my life.” In the future Hickman wants to study more about precision medicine and genetic research.

cortney welch with posterImage of Cortney Welch with her poster that was presented to PhD professors of her research findings. Image courtesy of Welch.

Cortney’s experience

Third semester nursing student, Cortney Welch, enjoyed her time in Ohio. She was able to research if there was a correlation in social cohesion in communities and colorectal cancer screenings. By the end of the summer, she was able to conclude that there is not a correlation in social cohesion in communities and colorectal cancer screenings. Along with the research, Welch was also able to work in a blood sample lab for patients who are using clinical trials for cancer treatment. She was able to help centrifuge, aliquoted blood and labeled the blood samples. Welch loved the experience that she received in both research labs. Welch says, “The internship was a growing experience. When I came home from the internship, I felt accomplished that I had experienced my first taste of a full-time job. I had learned how to do research, how to write a paper. I felt like it was a great use of my summer. It was hard and it was frustrating at times and tedious but I think it was well worth my time. I learned a lot.”

all three with HimesImage of Hickman, Reinhardt and Welch with assistant professor Dr. Deborah Himes. Image courtesy of Hickman.

James’ experience

James Reinhardt, a fourth semester nursing student, was able to focus his research on preventing cancer through a research study on men’s overall health. He studied at-risk participants on how they rated their health. Reinhardt tried to understand why some men would rate their health as poor. Since many of the participants did not take the survey throughout the intervention process, it was very difficult for Reinhardt to come to any conclusion about why these men rated their health as low. However, throughout the process in Ohio, Reinhardt learned many lessons. Reinhardt expounds, “I hopefully will be able to better see road blocks in future research projects. My overall experience was great! We did get to work along with medical students and students from different schools so that was a cool mix to be in. I got to learn how research is vital.”

Overall, the College of Nursing students had a great experience in Ohio. They were able to learn and grow to become better nurses. They are now taking the skills that they learned in Ohio and are implementing them into their current nursing studies.

Eye-Opening Student Refugee Experience


Student Sidney Pratt with refugee family she cared for. Photo courtesy of Pratt.

By Quincey Taylor

You own a bakery. It is just you, your spouse, and your two children. Each night a threatening barrage of gunfire keeps you awake. Walking the streets has become too dangerous, even during daylight. Then, miracle of miracles, you and your family manage to escape the terrors and reach a different country. You leave behind most of your belongings and use most of your money on a flight. You are so grateful and happy to finally be safe, but to your dismay the troubles are not over. Rather than gunfire, now there is a seemingly infinite number of papers to fill out and questions to answer. They are extremely difficult for anyone to answer, let alone someone who has just gone through a traumatic experience. You do not know the language. You are suffering from crippling PTSD and depression. It seems like such a long road to travel before your life will be normal again.

This story is a sad reality for the millions of refugees all over the world. Each year, more people are displaced from their homes due to violence and tyranny. For nursing students everywhere, it is crucial to learn more about these populations that they will undoubtedly encounter. To prepare the students at BYU College of Nursing, associate teaching professor Debra Mills teaches a refugee and immigrant education course each winter semester. As part of their spring practicum in June, nine students attended the three day North American Refugee Health Conference in Portland. Students had their eyes opened to the many difficulties refugees encounter and how nurses, as health providers, can be sensitive to their needs.

The conference was open to anyone who wanted to learn how to help refugees in their community. Students mingled with social workers, refugee resource managers, mental health workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, researchers, physicians that work in refugee clinics, as well as refugees themselves. They heard inspiring speakers that had fled their own homes and come to the United States seeking refuge.

Nurses need to have their horizons widened and be aware of the cultural differences that they might encounter in the medical field. For example, if a woman from Sudan comes to the hospital to be treated, a male nurse cannot treat her because that is against her cultural beliefs. Mills commented on the experience, “We need, if we’re going to be healthcare providers, an understanding that not everybody has the same way of dealing with health, of dealing with illness.” She added, “It’s amazing to see how similar we all are. Everyone is one of God’s children. Some of our brothers and sisters, by no choice of their own, suffer violence, tyranny, lack of food, lack of resources, lack of shelter. We need to help them.”

Refugees face a multitude of challenges upon entering a new country. They must find a job without knowing the national language. They might have previous injuries or illnesses. Maybe they came from a country with free healthcare, but now they are expected to pay for it. Children learn the language much faster than their parents and often become the translator, taking on a bigger responsibility than their age usually permits. Families often feel that they have lost their culture. In some cases, they do not want to be here, but for safety reasons they have been uprooted to a foreign land they do not identify with.

Sidney Pratt, a student who attended the conference, described it by saying, “Not only did it show the many different options of resources we have but it also showed me a sliver of what a refugee has to go through to come over to the United States. Knowing this helps nurses to better treat patients in a holistic manner.” Students who sign up for the course get to experience foreign foods, clothing, traditions, as well as help a local refugee family. Mills thought the experience was extremely valuable for her pupils and hopes to return to the conference next year.