Altonya McMillan

May 2011
Class of 2011


I believe this about nursing… "That I will make a difference."

It was during that one time that I was bathing her when I suddenly felt humbled – something that I had never experienced at a job before.  She was a woman in her sixties with an uncooperative body that was unwilling to do her bidding.  She could neither feed nor clothe herself, and one of the only bodily functions she maintained was her ability to smile, which she did often. She was my very first patient of my very first clinical and she moved my spirit and helped me confirm that I had chosen correctly when I chose a career in nursing.

I marveled at my reaction to this first nursing experience because it touched me in a way that I did not expect; especially given that I came to the nursing field for solely practical reasons.  I started as a corporate law paralegal who decided to make a career change because I became bored with what I was doing. 

I returned to school and obtained an MBA in International Business where I hoped to see myself as a jetsetter based out of the United States while working abroad.  That vision of my life did not come to fruition however, when I found myself trying to make it happen in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Determined not to let this circumstance get the best of me, I began to research careers that could withstand hard economic times. I found nursing and the more I learned about it the more I realized that it was a fit for me.  Needless to say, I am happy that the other things in my life did not work out the way I planned things so that this would.  I’m also proud to say that all of my education and experience will not go to waste because I do plan to integrate it all.

My nursing career will entail aspects of nurse management where I will apply my business marketing education to help improve the patient’s hospital experience.  I will also use my second language Spanish skills (also a part of my business training) to reach out to the Hispanic community to ensure that they too feel valued, respected and have a positive experience within a hospital organization.  I hope that I can impact nursing just as it has already impacted me.  

I am thankful for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholarship.  It removed my financial worries and helped free my mind so that I could focus on my studies-the results of which are already paying off with my recent honor of making the Dean’s List.  I want my career to be a great return on the RWJ Foundation scholarship investment and will work hard to make it happen.