Leslie Young is a senior at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, NC. She’s about to graduate next month with her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.
Nursing was a natural career choice for her, as she comes from a line of A&T Aggie nurses. “My aunt and my cousins – all really important role models to me – all got their nursing degrees from A&T,” she says.
She was also the kid who actually liked going to the doctor’s office. “I actually wanted to get shots,” she laughs. “My mom thought I was crazy.”
When she was in high school, A&T was her top college choice. “I grew up in Greensboro and in the A&T culture. I already had so many wonderful memories of the school before I even enrolled. There’s a lot to be said about Aggie Pride.”
She says choosing a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) taught her a lot about diversity.
“People might think the opposite,” she says, “That in going to a historically black school you won’t have a lot of diversity. But actually, you learn the role you can play in the lives of someone who looks like you but didn’t have the same opportunities. And you also learn how to relate to someone who has a different culture, or who looks totally different than you. There are many different meanings to diversity.”
And that’s definitely an important thing to learn when studying for a nursing degree. Studies have shown that when a patient can relate to their medical providers, the outcomes are much better, and cooperation is greatly increased.
A Typical Day Includes Hospital Shift Work Before Graduation
When asked about the typical day of a nursing student about to graduate, she says, “It’s blood, sweat, and tears.”
“On my clinical days, I wake up at 5 a.m.; put on my clean, crisp white professional attire; get my stethoscope and other equipment ready; check my assigned patient (that I’d studied about the night before), and apply what I’ve been learning in class.”
Seniors generally work three 12-hour shifts in a local hospital a week (on top of their studies).
It’s hard work, but for Leslie, it’s all worth it. “Nurses are there helping people during their most vulnerable moments. The other day I was talking to a patient at the hospital, and I was ‘their person’ for just that moment in time. I’ll be able to experience that many times a day, for the rest of my career.”
Leslie has already been presented with many employment opportunities for when she gets her diploma, but she hasn’t made her final choice yet. But she does know what field she wants to go into: “I want to be a maternity nurse or neonatal nurse, helping those moms and babies.”
Blue Cross NC’s $1 million investment into NC A&T is the fourth and final investment into North Carolina HBCU nursing programs. Other investments include $1 million each into programs at North Carolina Central University, Fayetteville State University, and Winston-Salem State University.
“My jaw was in my lap when I heard the news about the investment,” says Leslie. “It’s huge.”
Becoming a Nurse Can Be Expensive
“You’d be surprised how expensive a nursing education is,” she says. “I remember my freshman year sitting down with my advisor and going through all of the costs and fees.”
“And there are a lot of basic technologies we use that are the cost of a luxury car,” she says. “Like the mannequins, we use that cost upward of $80,000. Technology is always changing, and we need resources to have a well-rounded education so that we can be prepared for the workforce.”
But what she is most excited for about this investment, is that it will give opportunities to the future generations of Aggie nurses. “There might be a little girl out there right now, who was just like me. And she’ll be able to get the support that she needs to follow her dreams.”
“This aid is a beautiful reminder that HBCUs are valued, that we are not forgotten,” she says. “That I am not forgotten.”