John Singer Sargent “Venetian Interior”

Why do students choose the nursing profession? This is a required essay question prior to admission into the baccalaureate nursing program at Carson-Newman College. In 2012, the board of trustees voted to change the private institution’s name to Carson-Newman University in an effort to increase admission rates through global influence. I am personally disappointed in the name change, because the college has a rich history in their founding documents.

Established as Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary in 1851, the school began by holding classes in a local Baptist church. In 1880, the seminary was named Carson College. For several years it existed alongside Newman College, a separate facility for the education of women, mostly white caped nurses. In 1889, the two colleges united as one of the first coeducational institutions in the South.

“Well, I’m really here to pitch for the Lady Eagles. Go big blue! Go big orange!” I smile enthusiastically during my first encounter with my nursing guidance counselor, Dr. Tippie Pollard. I maintain my focus on dinging metal bats swinging through open windows overlooking the softball diamond. “Please type a 500 word essay explaining the reasons you are choosing nursing as a career. Return the paper to my office mailbox in one week,” Tippie excuses me as she stands and turns her old, tarnished door knob.


The Hannah Pederson Nursing Building is conveniently located across from the softball field. The historical building use to be a schoolhouse for kindergartners. I really like to feel like a giant, squeezing through the narrow bathroom stalls and squatting on two foot tall stools. This will be my private place to pray when I kneel so close to the creaky hard wood floors.

As a Bonner Scholar, I volunteer ten hours a week at the local elementary school and 240 summer hours at the Samaritan House for homeless women and children and construction volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. My nursing education will lend itself to better care and understanding of childhood growth and development and how to meet the needs of the community.

I also like to draw medical illustrations. I won a 1st place ribbon for a drawing displayed at a shopping mall in Statesville, NC. I drew a nurse in the ER, strapping a screaming, combative five year old girl to a gurney. This was when I fell on a sharp rock and busted my left knee open, which required only five little stitches. During that painful emergency, I instinctively knew I wanted to be a nurse.

My softball catcher is a nursing major, and she studies a lot of thick, interesting books on our away game bus travels. I often see her in a procession of white capped ladies in freshly pressed white dresses, marching out of the skills lab where they wear masks, and resuscitate and stick dummies who don’t talk back. I think I would look cute in a white dress, buttoned around my well rounded, liberal arts education

When I was 16, I was running after a softball and collapsed in the outfield, paralyzed from the neck down. Old Doc Ellis first thought I hyperventilated and directed me to breath in and out of a paper bag. How ridiculous to re-create a scarry situation. Old Doc Ellis diagnosed me with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. I suppose I know fear, and I’m locked in constant search of a healing substance.

I like to make myself laugh by finding humor in life. They say laughter is the best medicine. My mother painted the white washed words, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” and other random scriptures on my blue bedroom chair. I’m currently taking an elective piano performance class by Dr. Milligan in the Tarr Music Center. My mother, oddly enough, gifted me with an electric organ one year, and I’m curious to see if “Mary had a Little Lamb” is still following me to school today. Dr. Milligan told me I didn’t know piano from Adam. I said, “Is Adam your son? I remember him. We took a botany class together”

Finally, I choose nursing because I like to teach, and one day, I might be chosen as the dean of nursing and coach softball here at Carson-Newman. I will fly and rest in the eagles nest when I win the “Outstanding Graduate for Nursing” award. You may go ahead and engrave “Stacy Lane, 1996,” on that prized, hallway plaque.

~ §tacy §weeney

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