Nursing Grad Earned Perfect Grades Pursuing Degree
Academic excellence seems to follow Bull nurse Carly Stagg.
After high school, she became a National Merit Scholar, enrolling at Auburn University. After transferring to the USF College of Nursing and subsequently completing her bachelor’s degree in May, the Tampa native became a King O’Neal Scholar – a title given to students graduating with a 4.0 grade point average.
Stagg was one of three nursing graduates to receive the award, along with Loretta Bayer and Laura Rouco.
She says her academic achievement was not intentional. Working about 20 hours a week on top of her coursework, Stagg was forced to hyper-manage her time. She never expected consistent, perfect grades.
They just kept coming.
“I always say, I kind of felt like it happened by accident,” Stagg said.
But faculty and classmates aren’t surprised. They attested to her steady work ethic and commitment to help others. Not only was Stagg excelling in her own coursework, but she also shared her knowledge with her peers by volunteering as a tutor in her Complex Health I course. Her clinical instructors referred to her as responsible, dependable, and professional.
“Carly was a true leader among her peers. She worked hard to learn the material and she went out of her way to make sure that they understood the material as well,” College of Nursing instructor Danielle Beasley, PhDc, MSN, RNC-OB said.
The daughter of a Cuban mother, Stagg jokes that her hard work is the result of a ‘working mindset’ handed down from her immigrant relatives. That nature has led her to return to the College of Nursing to pursue her master’s degree. She hopes to become a family nurse practitioner, and eventually earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice.
Stagg decided she wanted to go into nursing when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 12. The kindness and attentiveness of the medical staff inspired her to become a nurse.
Managing her diagnosis, which requires closely monitoring one’s diet, also ignited a passion for nutrition. After spending the first six years after her diagnosis ignoring the disorder, Stagg noticed she almost never felt well. At 18, a friend introduced her to a diet catered more closely to her needs, reducing carbohydrates and processed foods.
“It sounds dramatic, but my life changed overnight,” Stagg said. “I was no longer being controlled by the highs and lows associated with diabetes. I was controlling it.”
The lifestyle change led her to earn her certification in nutrition from the Nutritional Therapy Association. Stagg says she still uses her background to coach patients toward their health and wellness goals. She plans to open her own family practice someday, where she plans to continue incorporating her nutrition knowledge.
“I remind my patients that making any change is not about perfection; it’s about doing the best you can,” she said. “And that’s exactly what I strive for with my own diabetes management.”
“Health care should be a true partnership between patient and provider, and my prayer is that I embody that in every interaction with patients.”
Story by Alex Hooper, USF College of Nursing