By Mindy Longhurst
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.
An 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.”
Image 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.