In the summer of 2020, UNM-Gallup celebrated its first cohort of graduates receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Allison Begay is the first in a series of student features to honor these recent UNM-Gallup nursing graduates. Here, Allison talks about her journey to accomplishing her degree.

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August 19, 2020 - My experience at UNM-Gallup will remain near and dear to my heart. Nursing school has been the hardest thing I have ever done. The long nights, early mornings, studying all the time, getting to clinical on time, and preparing for some of the hardest exams I’ve taken in my life—all experiences that have been a part of my life for two years now.

It always felt great knowing that the Gallup community fully supported me in becoming a nurse—and all those who assured me that it would all be worth it in the end. It was just very hard to see this when you feel as if you're slowly chipping away at a goal. During my time in nursing school, I took on the role of Student Nursing Association president, which helped me get more involved with UNM-Gallup, and the community. Although It added to my stress, I was able to make connections that would not have been possible had I not been involved with SNA.

I’ve always wanted to help people; I just wasn't sure how. It wasn't until a couple years ago, when my paternal grandfather suffered a heart attack that I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. When sitting with my grandfather in the hospital, nurses would explain his medications to me and why he needed them; looked after me in the same way they cared for him; and constantly told me what assessments were and why they were needed. I never felt alone. I never felt in the dark. And, I never felt like I didn't know what was happening. The impact that made on me was life changing. It gave my life direction and purpose. It was an unfortunate event, but I'll always be thankful for the eye-opening experience.

Achieving my BSN in Nursing means a lot to me. For the past two years, nursing students have heard the saying: "If it was easy, everyone would do it" I graduated in 2014 from Navajo Pine High school, which is a small school on the Reservation. I attended UNM’s main campus for a year, and then decided to switch my major from Biochemistry to Nursing.

I had tried to get into numerous nursing schools but was denied acceptance every time for two and a half years. Frustrated, I kept on with my nursing journey, and I kept taking classes to further myself. One day, I was sitting at work, and I get a call from UNM-Gallup letting me know they had an opening in their new BSN program—two weeks before classes started. Without hesitation—and without thinking—I accepted. I quit my job the next day and moved back to Navajo, New Mexico, to attend UNM-Gallup.

Every day—to get to school and clinical—I would have to drive an hour to Gallup and an hour back to Navajo. My significant other sacrificed time with me so I could achieve my dreams. This achievement is more than just a transition from student to real-world adult. For me, it means that I can conquer anything that I set my mind to, and that I have the ability to keep going even when I feel like giving up. Sacrifices along the way are worth it.

Right now, I am studying for the NCLEX. I plan on working at the Gallup Indian Medical Center (GIMC) as an Emergency Room nurse. I did receive the IHS scholarship while in nursing school. With this scholarship, I am able to practice nursing anywhere I would like in the country. But I plan on fulfilling my scholarship commitment at GIMC in Gallup—my second home. I also plan on working side-by-side with the nurses who have taught me and helped me along the way. And, I plan on helping the front-line fight against COVID-19. While I am working as a nurse, I plan on helping nursing students as much as possible as well. I hope to be a beacon of hope for them and inspire them when things get tough.

I would like to say thank you to all of the nursing professors, advisors, clinical teachers—and all of the nurses at RMCH and GIMC—for always helping students perform at the best of their abilities. Thank you all for giving me the chance to return home and grow into the nurse that I thought that I could never be. Thank you for every opportunity, lesson, and the passion you have passed on to me for Gallup. Thank you to all of my friends and family for fighting this battle with me. And to my significant other, thank you for your understanding, your love, your sacrifices, and your patience. Everyone who has been a part of my nursing journey, thank you for everything.

For all of my future nurse colleagues: Keep working hard and know that it will be worth it very soon.

For campus updates and information, please visit gallup.unm.edu.

UNM-Gallup Article Contact:

Dr. Sabrina Ezzell

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