College of Nursing Student Spotlight: Alexandra Hawley
Q: As an Accelerate Second Degree nursing student at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, where did you get your first bachelor’s degree, and in what field?
A: I grew up on a farm in Kingsville, Missouri — a small town outside Kansas City. Many had limited access to primary health care. My mother has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in veterinary medicine, so I value the importance of proactive and preventive medical care. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Missouri.
Q: What made you switch fields to pursue nursing?
A: I have always had a passion for health and helping others lead a better quality of life. Four years ago, I moved to Sarasota. My life changed two years ago when my father was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer. Having a profound experience of caring for my father during his final weeks of life led me to know the next step in my career would be nursing. I realized I wanted to be able to care for others as I did for him.
Q: Why did you decide to enroll in the program?
A: While carefully researching nursing schools in Florida, I discovered USF’s program would allow me to obtain my Bachelor of Science in Nursing in four consecutive semesters. I learned the program is accredited through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, has an excellent NCLEX passing rate, provides opportunities for global and community outreach, and offers graduate-level degrees. I instantly knew this was my nursing program of choice.
Q: As a member of the pathway’s inaugural cohort, you were weeks into classes when the pandemic began. What have the past few months been like?
A: The past few months have been a rollercoaster. Clinicals were paused, and classes were conducted online. We were devastated — our cohort had already become close. Thankfully, we were able to resume clinicals. This helped us gain some sense of normalcy. We are incredibly thankful to our instructors and program director for working so hard to keep us on track. It has been a difficult adjustment to online classes, but we have learned to adapt and overcome — two skills that I believe will be paramount as future nurses, especially in the age of COVID-19.
This pandemic has been scary at times, but it has brought to light how badly the world needs more nurses. I am more certain than ever that nursing is what I have been called to do.
Q: What are your thoughts on being trained to enter the field in the middle of a pandemic?
A: It has not been easy being a nursing student in the middle of a pandemic. It has taken discipline, determination, resiliency, and the ability to accept and adapt to change. In the end, this pandemic will make us stronger and even more prepared to enter the nursing field. Even though it feels like it may never end, I think about how lucky I am to be in such an amazing program and that I am on my way to fulfilling my passion of becoming a nurse.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing