Tag Archives: BYU College of Nursing

Being a Nurse and Becoming a Father

Hyrums famHyrum and his young family.

By Quincey Taylor

Becoming a father is a life-changing experience. You wake up one morning and it is just you and your wife, and the next day you wake up and there is an entirely new person depending on you for their survival. New plans for the future are formed and different routines are forged. Family dynamics and relationships change and evolve. For nursing students, becoming a father has its own differences, sometimes difficult but always rewarding.

Huge Life Change as First-Time Father

Hyrum Prestwich, a nursing student who will be completing his capstone this fall, was blessed with a baby girl on December 23, 2018. This baby, named June, has completely changed the way Prestwich sees the world. With a few months under his belt, Prestwich has some advice for new fathers or fathers-to-be.

Looking back, Prestwich says, “I had just finished my labor and delivery semester and I felt like the whole semester was in preparation like the final was my wife’s pregnancy. It was kind of fun to be able to have a little bit more information.” Some of the nurses that helped with his wife’s delivery were former BYU students. They enjoyed talking about their professors and the things they learned during their time at BYU.

When asked about things he did not foresee when becoming a father, he says, “I think just the greater purpose I have. When I’m going to school and going to work, it’s not just for me and my wife anymore. There’s this pretty much helpless, tiny human that’s relying on us. I think that it’s nice to have that greater purpose to do the things I’m doing, whether it’s school or bettering our future.”

It has not always been easy for Prestwich, but everything is always worth it in the end. If he had been asked two weeks after having June if they wanted more kids, Prestwich would not be so sure. However, now that they have had a chance to transition he says they definitely look forward to having more children eventually. He says, “It’s a little scary at times and it can be a little overwhelming. But overall, I think it’s definitely a positive. Obviously, it is a huge transition, but I think that you definitely adjust and the positives – like the small moments where she makes us laugh – make it totally worth it.”

Prestwich has enjoyed his nursing skills as he has become a father. Prestwich likes to use his stethoscope to listen to June’s heart, but luckily there have not been any emergencies in which he would have to use additional skills. Having that healthcare background, he says, “helps me just to have a little bit more of a comfortable feeling. I have resources where I can find information if I have questions.”

Prestwich strives to be like his father, who is one of his role models. He remarks, “My dad was just a great example of being a family man, and also instilling a hard work ethic in me. He’s also a great example of a Christ-like father, willing to correct us and keep us on the right path, and being loving to us. Hopefully, I can emulate that in my own life.”

To any students preparing to become a father, Prestwich says, “Just do the best you can in everything. It was always my mantra to do the best I can at school and work. Now, there’s just an added responsibility. So, doing your best might mean you might have to cut back a little bit in school or work so you can focus on more important things – like your family. It’s important to prioritize what’s the most important thing.”

 

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Diego and his family at a sporting event.

Finding Balance with Multiple Children

Diego Gonzalez, a BYU first-year nursing graduate student, is not new to the world of babies and fatherhood. He has two children, a six-year-old girl, and a three-year-old boy, and his wife is pregnant with their third – due in November.

When asked how things have changed with the arrival of each child, Gonzalez laughs, “Typically with the first child you have the most photos, then after that, it starts decreasing with each one.” Sometimes it will suddenly hit him that he is having his third child!

Occasionally it is hard for Gonzalez to focus on studying when he is at home because his children always are eager to play with him. For him, finding a balance between school, work, family, and the church is key. That is why Gonzalez is grateful for the constant reminder of why he chooses to do the things he does. His children are his motivation to continue in the graduate program, even when it is difficult.

It is not rare for Gonzalez to use his nursing skills in the home, whether the kids are sick with a cold or bump their head. It is a comfort to him to know that he can take care of his children and know their symptoms. Gonzalez is dedicated to being a constant strength and presence in his children’s lives and never wants to look back on the decisions he has made and have regrets.

This past term, he decided to try something new and took a rock climbing class. He absolutely loved it and encourages all parents to make time to have a hobby of their own. “Your children will be happier when they see you being happy.”

To all new fathers or fathers-to-be, Gonzalez urges each one to live in the present. Do not plan on spending time with your kids someday when you graduate or have a job or are released from a calling. Each moment is precious with children because they grow up so fast. In those family-bonding times, it’s important to be an active presence within the family. He says, “Sometimes you need to step back out of that reality, push it away, and then mentally be able to say, ‘I can enjoy this moment. I can be present. And I’m not worried about what is due tonight, tomorrow, or what I have to do.’ You know, keeping it real.”

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Stroke Awareness Month: An Unlikely Hero

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Zak Gowans is happy that his dad, Ben, successfully survived a stroke. 

By Corbin Smith

There are very few things that can happen in a person’s life that can flip it completely upside down. Receiving a cancer diagnosis or the death of a loved one are just two examples. There is one, though, that many do not realize affects so many people each day.

Due to this fact, each May the world celebrates Stroke Awareness Month, reminding us the importance of being able to recognize and react to a stroke.

In 2016, strokes were the second leading cause of death in the world, amounting to almost 6 million deaths worldwide. Next month, some 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke; most unaware they are even at risk!

Since it is close to impossible to know when a stroke will strike, the National Stroke Association has created an easy-to-remember acronym called F.A.S.T to help identify the symptoms of a stroke. By knowing and quickly following F.A.S.T when you suspect someone is having a stroke, you could literally save someone’s life.

An Unlikely Hero

March 23, 2019 started as a normal day for Ben and Zak Gowans. Zak, the videographer for the College of Nursing’s media team, was spending some time doing homework in his room. His dad, Ben, having spent the day at his parents’ home, had just sat down on his bed to watch Avengers: Infinity War.

After a few minutes, wanting a break from homework, Zak came into the room and sat down on the bed to watch the movie with his dad. “The way we were laying, we couldn’t see each other. Then he sat up and looked at me. I saw his pupils were huge and he looked really confused. All I could ask was, ‘Are you okay?’” says Zak.

From Ben’s perspective he says, “I remember sitting there and thinking ‘I’ve seen this movie before but it doesn’t make sense what’s happening.’ I looked at my hands, and they were like someone else’s hands. They were moving oddly, not responding quite right, so I sat up a little and looked over at Zak.”

Zak jumped up, turned the movie off and ran over to the other side of the bed. “He couldn’t speak. I knew it was something with his brain, because he was acting very strange,” says Zak. “As I called 911,” Zak laughs, “My dad even started shaking his head no.” “It was because it was going to be expensive,” jokes Ben.

Within the next ten minutes, the paramedics arrived and Ben’s wife got back home from the grocery store to a great surprise. From the moment they arrived to when he made it to the hospital, he was bombarded with questions. “Every question they asked I knew the answer too, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I knew what to say but I couldn’t communicate it,” says Ben.

Stroke of Luck

The next few hours were filled with uncertainty and medical tests. He was given a CT scan to see what type of stroke he was having and where the blood clot was in his brain. He was offered a potentially dangerous clot-busting medicine to begin dissolving the clots.

After that, the emotional trial began. “I remember the first night. I was in a dark room and I couldn’t fall asleep. I remember laying there thinking that I wish I had just died. This was going to be a terrible life, and I didn’t want to do that. I just wished I had bled out,” says Ben.

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Ben was comforted by his family on his way to recovery.

He had a long line of people rooting for him, though, not letting him give up. His wife, Julie, stayed with him all night in the ICU and told him, “I’m not done with you, you can’t leave yet.” The next morning a steady stream of family members and neighbors from the community came in and helped strengthen him.

Ben amazed doctors and physical therapists by how quickly he regained his movement. On the other hand, they were puzzled with how a healthy 45-year-old man had suffered a stroke. Through some tests, they found an 8-millimeter hole in his heart, where a tiny clot had gotten through and shot straight up to his brain, causing the stroke.

After an operation to close the small hole, Ben is living a fairly normal and healthy life. He now laughs about the experience saying, “We joke about it all the time, it’s just good times. I don’t want to be sensitive about it, that’s just my personality.” Even in the face of hardship, Ben lives his life with a smile on his face.

Ben is very thankful to the nurses he had at Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Utah. “They lifted my spirits quite a bit and they were also very attentive,” he says. He is especially thankful, though, for the swift reaction of Zak. “I’m very fortunate that Zak was able to recognize the symptoms,” he says. Who knows if he would be here today without Zak’s actions?

Although Zak is not a nursing or medical student, he was able to save a life by simply knowing stroke symptoms and how to react. A stroke can hit in any moment, and it is important that we also know what to do, in case we need to become a hero in an instant.

 

Follow the link below to learn more about the risks as well as how to recognize and react to a stroke.

https://www.stroke.org/

Intermountain Medical Center Hires Three Fresh BYU Graduates

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IMC’s newest hired ER nurses Mikaela Jones (third from the right) and Daniel Smith (far right) with fellow students during a clinical outside ER ambulance entrance. Photo courtesy of Jones.

By Quincey Taylor

For nursing students at BYU, it might be hard to imagine what it would be like to attend another college of nursing. How would it compare to BYU? Would students receive as many chances to gain clinical experience? Would opportunities post-graduation be different?

Recently, a conversation had by teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad truly illustrates how our college compares to other educational institutions in the eyes of employers.

Our Students are Impressive

During the winter semester 2019, Blad was at Intermountain Medical Center with his students to do their Emergency Department clinical. He needed to speak with the nurse manager there, and she had something she wanted to say to him.

The nurse manager and the assistant nurse manager had just barely finished interviewing applicants for three open nursing positions in the hospital. They had 125 applicants and interviewed only a select few. Out of all the applicants, four freshly graduated BYU students applied.

The nurse manager said, “We don’t normally hire new graduates, but your students were so amazing in how they presented themselves, their resumes, and their letters that they wrote for the application. We were so impressed by what they had done already in the program. We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing with these new graduates.”

She even went on to say that one of the applicants received a perfect score on their application, a score the hiring staff rarely, if ever, gave. She remarked, “We don’t know what you’re doing there, but whatever it is, please don’t stop.”

Our Students are In Demand

Even though they were originally only looking for three new hires, they ended up asking for special permission from administration to open more spots in order to offer jobs to all of the BYU applicants. Being the biggest Level One trauma center in Utah, it is rare for IMC to hire recent graduates. However, the hiring staff could not pass up such stellar applicants.

Only three BYU students accepted the offered positions, including BYU alumni Mikaela Jones and Daniel Smith, along with another student from BYU-Idaho. The staff at IMC was eager and excited to add these stellar nurses to their team.

Blad was so moved by their opinion of the college, and says, “They really did appreciate our program and the way that we prepare our students for real life. When I walked out of there I felt so proud to be associated with our program that has such a good reputation.”

Our Students are Prepared

This praise of the program motivated Blad to be the best professor he can be, and he said, “To think that we, as faculty, have even a little part in students’ preparation, it just made me feel so good. We are preparing them not only adequately, but above and beyond what is expected. It was just a proud moment.”

Blad would also like to attribute the college’s success to the wonderful students who are so ready and eager to learn. With the high-quality training given by the college and the efforts of amazing students, the resulting success is definitely a team effort.

Jones is so grateful for the opportunity to work in the ER at IMC since January and says, “My education from BYU gave me the confidence to chase a job that scared me. I didn’t even capstone in the ER, but I had confidence that I had the knowledge I needed to get me started. The IMC ER actually said no to my online application because of lack of experience. I was determined and just showed up at the ER with my resume and a letter of 3 reasons they should hire me for the job.” It was because of her confidence that Jones was hired.

She goes on to say, “The reason I tell this story is because I really do believe BYU instilled in me a sense of confidence that I could be a great nurse if I really worked at it.”

Smith is also grateful for how the college helped him prepare and says, “The College of Nursing taught me to push myself, be a dependable team player, and prepare myself for a lifetime of learning.” He loves his new job and says, “Being a new grad here is like drinking from a firehose… I never thought I would be a psych nurse, a pediatric nurse, a women’s health nurse, or work with law enforcement so much on top of working with critical patients.”

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Smith and fellow nurses in HAZMAT suites, one of the many skills he has learned on the job. Photo courtesy of Smith.

For his Global Health trip when he was in school, he served among the At Risk population in the prison. This was a helpful experience to prepare him for his current job. He says, “I love being able to say I work with some of the sickest and most injured patients in Utah and that I’m making some of their worst days a little better.”

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Smith really loves his new job! Photo courtesy of Smith. 

Blad reassures students in the program that the BYU College of Nursing amply prepares its students and says, “We just want our students to know if they will stick with the program and do the things that they’re supposed to, that they can have confidence that they will come out and be well prepared for whatever opportunities are out there.”

 

Nurses Are Tough! Nursing Student Helps BYU Women’s Rugby Win National Championship

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The BYU women’s rugby team is now the best division one women’s rugby team in the nation!

By Quincey Taylor

Among the 30,000 students that currently attend Brigham Young University, there is only one that is both a nursing student and a member of the BYU women’s rugby team. Her name is Larissa Graham, and she helped the team win the 2019 Spring College National Championship on May 4. The College of Nursing wants to say congratulations and is proud to have one of our students participate on this intense sports team.

Graham, who just finished her first semester in the nursing program, originally attended Western Michigan University on a basketball scholarship. It was only after dropping her scholarship to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that she decided to transfer to BYU.

She had not considered playing rugby until a fellow student and past team player urged her to try out. Graham explains, “Someone in my writing 150 class was actually on the team previously, and she said, ‘Oh, yeah, you should totally do it.’ I saw posters around the school and it kind of peaked my interest.” Rugby tryouts happened to be the same week as basketball tryouts. She decided to go to both.

After seeing the close relationship between the rugby players, Graham felt the excitement and wanted to be a part of it. It impacted her when she heard the players call each other “sisters” instead of “teammates.” She says, “I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever found a team that had as close to a bond as this rugby team did.”

Even though she had never played the sport before, Graham made the team. She has now been a critical member of the team for the past four semesters. She plays “lock,” which is a position that does a lot of the tackling. She is in the core of the scrum, and is not afraid of getting a little roughed up. She is also the player that is lifted during lineout, having an increased advantage by being six feet tall.

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After winning the national championship, the team rushed the field, hugging and crying out in joy.

Graham always knew she wanted to help other people. She says, “Since I was little, I wanted to work somewhere in the medical field. I wanted to be a doctor at first, and then I met fantastic nurse practitioners at our local family clinic and I just really wanted to be like them. They’re like the nurses that knew your name every time you came in. They remembered your family history and background. They asked you about the sports season that you’re in or religion stuff going on and they just knew who we were. I just wanted to be a personal nurse like them and help make an impact in someone’s life like they did in mine.”

Graham enjoyed her first semester and is excited to continue in the program. It has not been easy balancing the two passions, but Graham feels she has found equilibrium in her life. “I’ve noticed that the busier I am, the more likely I am to succeed. It’s kind of backwards,” she expounds, “It forces me to have a schedule.”

With such a physical sport, it is not a surprise that Graham regularly uses her nursing skills on the field with the help of assistant coach and nursing alumna Monica Jackson (’13). She laughs, “A lot of the players know that I’m a nursing student and they ask me every question in the book.” She has been able to give advice to players who are injured and is excited to grow her pool of knowledge in the following years.

Rugby has made a huge impact in Graham’s life, and she intends to continue playing on the team for as long as she can. She says, “It’s been really awesome to have a support group and immediate friends… It’s actually been a really big blessing in my life.”

So, look out for number five next time you see the team play! For anyone considering going to the next tryouts in August, know that you could not be joining a better group of sisters out there. Graham comments, “I’m excited to see the talent that we get, and I’m excited for the momentum that we have. I feel like we’re just starting the momentum. It’s building. So, I’m excited. I think the team is excited. The program as a whole is excited.”

 

 

 

Virginia Jefferies’ Convocation Speech: Courageous in the Face of Fear

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Master’s program graduate Virginia Jefferies and her son.

Excerpt from Virginia Jefferies’ convocation address, delivered on April 25, 2019.

I didn’t think that I could ever become a nurse.  I was so afraid of blood and needles. When I was little, I passed out at my cousin’s house when he stapled his thumb, I passed out at the dentist office when he fixed my cavities. As a young woman, I passed out at church on Easter Sunday when my teacher talked about the Crucifixion, and as a college student I passed out watching the Miracle of Birth video in a family life class.  Then before my mission, I passed out at work at my office job, when my boss was telling me about what it’s like to have an episiotomy. She even called 911 and an ambulance came for me. I remember coming to, under my desk, with a paramedic removing my blazer. I certainly didn’t think that I would ever be able to become a nurse.

Then I served a mission… and while I was on my mission I almost passed out several more times. We visited patients in hospitals.  Just walking into a room with an IV in someone’s arm made me feel faint.

But when I came home from my mission, my own little sister lay in a hospital bed.  She had just had her spine fused and a metal bar installed in her back.  Out of my love for her, I stayed the night with her in the hospital.  While I was there . . .  I saw angels.  They were wearing scrubs.  They visited my sister all through the night, responding to her moans and cries.  They spoke to her in gentle, hushed tones and ministered to her.

That night changed me and I felt called to be a nurse. But that night didn’t take away my weakness. A few months later, I found myself at the BYU counseling center where a wise counselor guided me to start small and simple and to work up from there to overcome my fears.  She had me write a list in ascending order – of situations with blood and needles that scared me – and then slowly work through them to overcome my fears.

The first task on my list was to prick someone’s finger.  Fortunately, I had a friend that was an ER nurse that was kind enough to oblige my first attempt.  I was so scared. But grateful that I knew he would be able to take care of me if I fainted. I did survive that first lesson: sweaty, and clammy, but without passing out.

I was eventually accepted into the nursing program at BYU.  Unfortunately, I did pass out during orientation . . .  across the feet of the two girls sitting beside me.  During the break I heard one of them say, “maybe you should get a different major.”

Yeah, well, you can’t just get a different major if God tells you to be a nurse.  So, I persisted with faith and prayer, and miracles happened one after the other, and I did make my way through that list.  By the second year of the nursing program I faced the fear at the top of my list.  Witnessing open heart surgery.  As a nursing student I stood at the head of the operating table beside the anesthesiologist.  The chest was cleaned and draped for surgery.  I watched as the sternal saw cut the sternum. The ribs were spread.  I stood in awe of the wonder of the glory of God as blood dripped to the floor before me.  Just then the kind anesthesiologist turned to me and asked, “you alright?” and I said, “yeah, I’m alright.”  And I am standing here to tell you today that that was a miracle.

 

6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. (Alma 37:6-7)

 

This is the work of God. When he calls us, he qualifies us too. Elder Neil L. Anderson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “When we are on the Lord’s errand, he will be with us, he will strengthen us, he will build our capacities.” Friends, I testify to you that the Lord makes weak things strong.  When we get into the yoke with him, we do not pull alone.

Serving God’s children as a nurse is practicing the Healer’s Art.  With him, we walk on sacred ground when our patients experience heartache, loss, sickness, and pain. I have held a patient and cried with her after she received a cancer diagnosis. I have spoken with love to a young man who reluctantly survived an overdose.  We share our patients’ deepest sorrows and greatest joys.  I am so grateful to be a nurse.  The Healer’s Art is beautiful. He is with us. And he will make more of us than we could ever imagine.

More than a decade after I got my nursing degree here at BYU, I felt my Father calling me back to become a nurse practitioner. Several weeks ago at an urgent care, I had the opportunity to do suturing for the first time on a patient. His lip was split open, and blood was spilling freely from the wound.  I approached him with a gentle smile on my face, and my suture and needle driver in my gloved hands.  It was a big day for me! Ironically, I had just used my asthma inhaler. One of the side effects of albuterol is tremor. But I wasn’t scared. Once again, love replaced fear.

Our God is surely a God of miracles.  He joys in using the weak and the simple to do his work. Bring what you have, even if it’s just a few loaves and a few small fishes and you carry them in your shaking hands.  Don’t be afraid of the smallness of your offering. The Savior will take you with your talents and multiply them in his service.  With him, you can care for the five thousand. And when the wind picks up, and the waves start slapping at your legs and you get scared, just put your eyes back on him.  He will lift you. And together you will walk on water.

Our work is his work.  With him, we can do it. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, teaches, “the Lord has never required expert, flawless effort. Instead he requests a heart and a willing mind.” Nurses and friends, we don’t have to be perfect today. The Savior gives us the gift to be human. You get to make mistakes and it’s okay.  Making mistakes is part of learning and growth.  Don’t give heed to voices that discourage you. God is with you. He will give us our daily bread. He will direct the spindles in our Liahonas as we exercise our faith in him to do the small and simple things. We can go forward with faith and there will be wonders among us. As our dear professor, Lacey Eden, told our class, “there are people out there who need you.”

Thank you, College of Nursing!

By Jessica Tanner

Nursing students are amazingly compassionate, intelligent, and driven people. I am constantly amazed at everything you participate in—the lectures, labs, simulations, and the many hours of clinicals. It has been such an experience for me to be able to sit down and talk with many of you, learn your stories, learn from you, and be able to share what I have learned with others.

So many of you shared inspiring words!  Here are some of my favorites:

“There is no one mold you have to fit to be a nurse.” – Electra Cochran

As I interviewed students and faculty, I repeatedly learned each of you is so unique. It is often our differences, our talents, and our hobbies that make us better able to serve and connect with one another. I am not a nursing student, but this statement holds true no matter the major or profession.

“We go past a lot of people and how much connection you make is up to you.” – Dr. Sabrina Jarvis

Dr. Jarvis taught me that every encounter I have with another person has an effect and I can decide whether that is positive or negative. I was reminded that we often do not know what others are going through until we take the time to talk with them. The littlest things, like smiling or asking “how are you,” often make the biggest difference.

“We meet complete strangers on their worst days ever, their most vulnerable times.” – Elizabeth Eide

Like Dr. Jarvis, Eide has learned the importance of kindness. While she is talking specifically about nursing, it applies to us whether we are in a hospital or not. We often do meet strangers when they are in need.

“I can’t do everything, but I can do something.” – Holly Christensen

I did not interview Christiansen directly, but I was able to hear her speak at The Magic Yarn Project event in March. The quote is from a video on The Magic Yarn Project website. When problems seem too big to be solved, it is a reminder that I can do my part to be part of the solution.

Though I only worked here for a few months, I really enjoyed my time here. Special thanks to Jeff, Quincey, Zak, and Andrew and all College of Nursing staff and faculty. Thanks for being great examples and friends to me and making me feel welcome even though I was not going to be here for very long. You truly are amazing!

 

 

Nursing Staff and Administration Receive SAERA Awards

Photo courtesy of BYU Human Resources

By Jessica Tanner

Three of our incredible staff and administration have recently been recipients of the Staff and Administrative Employee Recognition (SAERA) Award: Kathy Whitenight, Cherie Top, and Cara Wiley. These amazing women have displayed levels of continual learning, innovation, and care that have improved the College of Nursing and BYU. The University-sponsored SAERA Award recognizes those who have shown competency, respect for sacred resources, integrity, teamwork, exceeding customer expectation, respect for all individuals, innovation and accountability. These women have definitely achieved that.

Kathy Whitenight

Kathy Whitenight

Competency: Striving for excellence and sharpening skills on a continuous basis, 2018.

“As an assistant dean, Kathy Whitenight is essential to the workings of the college of Nursing,” writes Dean Patricia Ravert, who nominated her for the award in 2018. On receiving the award Whitenight reports, “I know when other people are getting the awards but I had no idea I was submitted. So it was a big surprise and really an honor to get it.”

There were several reasons why Dean Ravert nominated Whitenight in the competency category. Whitenight has kept up with legal matters, managed updates in physical facilities, and overseen human resources.  Another major department she oversees is Risk Management, where she helps students get the care they need in case of incident or injury. In this duty, Whitenight demonstrates personal care to each student. “They have my cellphone; they can call me 24/7,” she explains. “I’ve only gotten one call in the last year at 3:00 a.m. but I want them to that. I’d rather have them do that than not get the care they need and the financial coverage.” Whitenight keeps up on policies and procedures to help students avoid potential problems.

On Whitenight’s wall hangs James C. Christensen’s painting The Widow’s Might. “I have this picture on the wall,” she explains, “because…most of the things [we do] are done through tithing dollars. And that’s the widow’s mite.” Working with finances, Whitenight handles sacred resources with great care and respect.

Whitenight has to learn continually to keep up with technology and policies. “Each day something new could come in that I’ve never experienced before. And that’s what makes it exciting.”

Cherie Top

Cherie Top:

Exceeding Service Expectations: Serving the needs of others beyond what is expected, 2018

Cherie Top, the Graduate Program and Research Secretary, was awarded for exceeding service expectations. Associate Dean and Professor Jane Lasseter nominated Top after seeing her interact with the students that would come up to apply for the graduate nursing program. “When we have our new applicants coming in they have to do a writing prompt,” Top explains. “And when they come in for their writing prompt we take their photo so that we can use it for the interview…So I make them take a picture up against the wall right next to Jane’s office. In her letter she talked about how I’m really nice to them because they come in and they’re really nervous for the writing prompt.” She helps to put these students at ease as they apply for their future.

Top is also consistently helpful and kind to the other faculty and staff. In fact, the people she gets to work with are her favorite part of her job. “The thing I like most about working here is the environment and the people that we work with. I feel like the staff and the faculty are a really close-knit group but they’re also really inviting.” She immediately felt included when she started working at BYU almost four years ago.

As for receiving the award, Top says, “I was super, super surprised. I didn’t even know they did those awards,” she admits with a laugh. “And they kept it a really good secret—they did it during college assembly and it was just a normal college assembly and I didn’t know it was going to happen.” It was a pleasant surprise, and the clock she received (the SAERA Award trophy) sits shining on her cabinet.

Cara Wiley

Cara Wiley

Innovation: Finding ways to improve products/services to change the way work is accomplished, 2019

Advisement Center Supervisor Cara Wiley was nominated for the SAERA Award by Associate Dean and Associate Professor Katreena Merrill in the innovation category. This was prompted by Wiley’s push for and implementation of an orientation class for first-semester nursing students.

“Before, the students had nothing,” says Wiley. When she became part of BYU nursing advisement, there was no orientation at all for nursing students. An orientation dinner was introduced, but it still was not enough. Wiley remembers, “I researched…other schools here at BYU who have limited enrollment programs, and they had orientation meetings.” It seemed to work for them, so Wiley worked to implemented it in the College of Nursing. It eventually turned into a 390R class so students could have it in their schedules.

“We’re trying to develop emotional intelligence, students’ resiliency, and [also] working on perfectionism,” Wiley explains.  “It’s literally meant to orient them, [to say], hey, this is what it’s going to be like in the nursing program.” Students are able to meet future faculty and learn about a wide variety of subjects. Wiley reports it is a work in progress. “We just keep tweaking it, trying to make it better, trying to help them come in and learn how to be resilient in the first semester so that when they hit the harder semesters, they can handle it.”

Wiley has enjoyed being a part of the orientation class. “It’s nice for me, for the advisement center, to be involved in this orientation class because the students get to know us.” It also brought about the nomination for the SAERA Award. Though she was shocked to get the award, she was also grateful. “I haven’t gotten an award like that in my 14 years of being here and it was really nice to be recognized by my boss…We’ve been doing a lot of changes, and now we’re seeing the results.”