Category Archives: Student spotlight

BYU to Columbia: A Dream Come True


6th semester student Abby Anderson is so excited to continue her nursing journey across the country!  Photo courtesy of Anderson.

By Corbin Smith

Our students here at the BYU College of Nursing are incredible. Each one of them consistently inspire us with their work ethic and dedication to learning the Healer’s art. That commitment is obvious for all of us here on campus, in labs and classes. Off campus and even across the nation, our reputation precedes itself thanks to our wonderful students and alumni. This, along with the relentless devotion to realize her dreams, led to one BYU nursing undergrad to an opportunity that comes to only a select few: acceptance into the prestigious Columbia University’s graduate DNP program.

For 6th semester student Abby Anderson, going to Columbia University has been a dream of hers for years. In fact, she knew almost immediately after choosing to study nursing at BYU that Columbia is where she wanted to go for her graduate studies. She even had an “email Columbia” reminder on her phone for over a year to help her remember to keep pushing toward her dream.

As Anderson’s research progressed she fell even more in love with the program and the University. “Columbia has several Collaboration Centers with the World Health Organization and the School of Nursing provides extensive funding for global health research. Being that pediatric nursing is my greatest passion, I knew Columbia was the perfect fit for me,” she says.

It is clear that the impact that Anderson hopes to have is through serving children all over the world. She believes that Columbia University will help her build upon the nursing foundation she constructed during her time at BYU through clinicals and her public and global health nursing course. “No matter where I end up, Columbia University will provide me networking opportunities to help me make an impact on a global scale,” Anderson says. Columbia is an excellent place to further her education and life goals.

IV arm

Photo courtesy of Anderson

Anderson, however, was not the only BYU undergraduate student to be accepted into one of Columbia University’s DNP programs. Fellow 6th semester student Alyssa Hildt was accepted into Columbia’s nurse midwifery program. While humbled by the acceptance into Columbia University, Hildt has yet to decide whether she will attend Columbia or the University of Utah for her graduate nursing studies.

That being said, Anderson is ecstatic to pack her bags and start her journey in New York City. “I love the diversity in New York City and I love the rigor of a Columbia education,” she says. “I am excited to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to explore a new city and to impact lives through the field of nursing!”

We all wish you luck, Abby! Go Cougars!

Student Spotlight: Kailey Mazurkiewicz

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Kailey Mazurkiewicz brings her vivacious spirit and passion for healing to the nursing program. Photo courtesy of Mazurkiewicz.

By Lyndee Johns

Rows and rows of darkened rooms, each filled with silent dolls.

All watching as you go by.

Sounds like the next Anabelle movie?

It was actually fourth-semester nursing student Kailey Mazurkiewicz’s college tour of the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center at BYU (NLC).

“My tour guide took me into the NLC, only no one was there,” says Mazurkiewicz. “So all the lights are off because no one was present, and we’re walking down the hallway and there are just manikins . . . My little brother’s like nine, and he’s like, ‘I think I saw this in a horror movie once,’ because we’re walking in a dark basement with a bunch of manikins. And I’m like, ‘This is so cool!’”

It’s a really good thing that the NLC manikins don’t scare Mazurkiewicz since she currently works as a simulation TA for the NLC. “Favorite job by far,” says Mazurkiewicz. “I really love working in the simulator just because it’s very unique to BYU and it is very high-tech, and so it’s really cool to see how real we can make it.”


Mazurkiewicz (third from the right) with her fellow nurses at the VA hospital in Salt Lake. Photo courtesy of Mazurkiewicz.

Mazurkiewicz has even gotten to act out being the patient on occasion. “So like I was a postpartum hemorrhage, so I got to be the patient. And that was so much fun. Highly entertaining.”

Mazurkiewicz’s interest in nursing sparked when her little brother had to have emergency surgery for appendicitis when she was in high school. “And I watched the nurses take care of him . . . and I thought it was such a cool experience to be able to help take care of someone,” she says. “And then I started volunteering in the emergency department at my local hospital . . . and I loved seeing what the nurses could do, and just how cool it was that they got to take care of patients and help interact with doctors.”

She performed this volunteer work during her junior and senior years of high school, spending her Friday nights as a patient escort in the aforementioned emergency room. “It was such a cool experience because I got to interact with patients of all ages, because it’s an emergency room,” says Mazurkiewicz. “And it was so fun because I got to see so many different things. It ranged from someone coming into the ER for a head cold to like someone coming into the ER because they were stabbed . . . I was very blessed never to be bored.”

One memorable Friday night had a full-to-bursting emergency room, and a patient needing to be life-flighted to another hospital—which required a helicopter landing in the hospital parking lot.

“So we had to go around and get the keys from all the patients/get them to move their cars so we could land the helicopter in the parking lot. And I remember being 17 and everyone’s in the lobby, and they’re like, ‘Why do you need us to move [our] car,’ and I was like, ‘So, we have to land a helicopter here.’”

Needless to say, that statement got some strange looks.


Mazurkiewicz recently hiked Angels Landing in Zion National Park. Photo courtesy of Mazurkiewicz.

Mazurkiewicz is from Tri-Cities, Washington, and loves hiking, running, and the outdoors. “Literally anything that involves the sun, I will do it,” she says.

After graduation, Mazurkiewicz plans to work pediatrics. “I’m hoping to be at Primary Children’s when I graduate, because you can do all sorts of different aspects of nursing, whether it’s like med-surg or surgery or emergency room or ICU, but [it] involves kids and babies and I just work really well with them.”

Mazurkiewicz’s advice for incoming nursing students is to 1) “be as involved as possible” and 2) “be incredibly optimistic.”

“Nursing school is incredibly hard. It will be difficult. And so it’s important to be optimistic and to hold out and also to remember why you wanted to be a nurse . . . And this really hard day or week or entire semester is going to be worth it.”

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

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.”


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.”

Student Spotlight: Jenna Lewis

By Corbin Smith


Photo courtesy of Lewis

As we all know, nursing takes on many faces. Nursing is special because careers can range from a variety of fields. The BYU College of Nursing values all extracurricular activities and organizations and encourages students to participate in those opportunities so that students can be exposed to a wide collection of these fields. This past summer, 4th semester student Jenna Lewis found herself involved with a relatively unknown organization among students called Camp Kesem.

Camp Kesem is an annual summer camp, driven by college students, to support youth whose parents currently deal with or have dealt with cancer. Camp Kesem had its beginnings in 2001 at Stanford University and has since expanded to over 100 chapters across the US, including one here in Utah Valley! Understanding the financial burdens taken by families whose parents are cancer patients, Camp Kesem and its volunteers fundraise year-round so camp can be free for the families each year.

During camp, the children participate in an array of activities and games, completely led by college students. The student volunteers, including Lewis, are assigned a specific age group of children, whom they assist both physically and emotionally during the week. All is done with the purpose of helping the children forget the hardships going on in their families through the companionship and empathy of the volunteers.

How Kesem Found Her

Lewis’ life-changing journey to Kesem started last year on an ordinary Wednesday night. Her roommate had been attending weekly meetings for a camp that Lewis had never heard of. That day, her roommate invited her to go with her to a meeting. Lewis reluctantly accepted her invitation to go, not ready to commit to camp because she knew how time consuming it would be.

When she arrived, the meeting was nothing like she expected it to be. “When I got there we talked about service and love, played games and sang camp songs and watched a powerful video. That is when I knew this was a special place,” says Lewis. That night, Camp Kesem found its way into her heart.


After months of preparation and fundraising, camp finally arrived. The week’s activities included swimming, a water fight with over a thousand water balloons and even a camp-wide paint war!

Nevertheless, Lewis says the best part of camp was getting to know the campers. “They just change you,” says Lewis, “They soften your heart. They teach you about empathy and loving people unconditionally.” Their influence and example changed her perspective on nursing as well as her heart.


She had one experience that epitomized the change she felt at Camp Kesem. One afternoon of camp a group of 6 and 7 year-old campers were running around, jumping from bench to bench trying to avoid touching the ground. One little boy slipped, fell down and scraped his knee. At the sight of a tear, without hesitation, Lewis jumped up and quickly calmed him down with a small bandage and pep talk. From that moment on, Lewis had created a strong friendship with this young camper, constantly being showered with hugs and smiles the rest of the week. “That experience helped me realize that when you are willing to help people in the way they need to be helped, they’ll open their hearts and you will see what they need.”

This lesson has continued to help Lewis as she continues in school and in her clinical rotations at the Huntsman Cancer Center. Camp Kesem helped her see first-hand the effect cancer has on families. That knowledge has helped her as she tries to serve patients in her clinicals. Her experience with Kesem gives her a perspective few of her peers possess. “Kesem has helped me understand a tiny part of their needs and worries,” says Lewis, “I even talk to some patients about Camp Kesem for their kids and it brings light to their eyes.”

Why Kesem?

Kesem’s ultimate purpose is to bring joy into the lives of the campers, but, in the end, it changes the lives of all those involved. Explaining why Kesem changed her life so dramatically she explains, “At Kesem you learn the value of being vulnerable and allowing others to be vulnerable with you. You learn to care about people other than yourself, and it’s contagious! It is incredible to go into a group of relative strangers and be loved selflessly.”


Photo courtesy of Lewis

It is a unique opportunity to participate in a camp such as Camp Kesem. For Lewis, not only did it change her life as an individual, but it also transformed the way she thinks of nursing and how it can be applied. Without a doubt, Lewis returned from Kesem inspired and prepared for her next step in school and in life. “Until next summer,” she exclaims!

New Scholarship Opportunities for Graduate Students: Join GNSA Today!


Graduate student Trissa Lyman is excited to get BYU students connected with other universities! Photo courtesy of Lyman.

By Quincey Taylor

For the first time ever, a BYU student has been selected as the Graduate Nursing Student Academy liaison. Well, what does that mean? Graduate student Trissa Lyman is excited to teach us all, and inform nursing students of further opportunities they could be taking advantage of.

The Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA), “provides high value programs, services, and resources to graduate nursing students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing” (GNSA pamphlet). As the first year with their own GNSA liaison, BYU students can familiarize themselves with the program and take part in some of the help they have to offer.

One of Lyman’s favorite things about being a member is the opportunity to network. Through GNSA Connect – an online community of graduate nursing students – members can meet their peers throughout the country and join discussions, make connections, and share resources. Lyman says, “There’s just so many resources and so many cool people that are doing different things that weren’t even on my radar before.”

Additionally, members can apply for GNSA’s exclusive scholarships and other financial aid opportunities. Joining GNSA is free to all BYU graduate students and Lyman is eager to spread the good news. It is her duty to keep students informed and connected with the GNSA community and she has been emailing students encouraging them to sign up. Even though she’s new to the position, Lyman is certain it will be a worth-while experience.

Lyman explains, “Joining is good for professional development, because sometimes you just don’t know what’s available or what’s out there. I feel like the GNSA is the perfect platform to be exposed to all variety of possibilities.”

To join, register at or talk to Lyman or professor Dr. Beth Luthy.