Janette Shaver

April 2010
Class of 2011


I believe this about nursing…“Nursing can and does change lives at every age.”

I believe I can find my life’s work through helping others in nursing. With each experience lived and each class taken, I’ve come to a fuller understanding of how my skills, talents and interests can be utilized best through the profession of nursing. Learning to care for others in nursing is the completion of my “academic circle” but merely the beginning of a lifelong calling.

In my undergraduate studies, my intention was first to study nursing. Beginning at sixteen as a novice in life, I rose (and sometimes fell) to the academic challenges, a few leaving their marks through interactions with teachers and students. Some caused me to reevaluate my pursuit of nursing, so I decided to go to Uganda, where I met the world in all its heartbreaking, poverty-filled, diseased and orphaned state. Holding a dying infant in my arms was the most tangible connection I’d ever had to life, death, and sickness in another human being. I cannot describe the connection that we shared- my heart reaching out to comfort the little one, while she simply sought warmth and touch. Despite my inability to perform complex operations or design a mira-cle cure, I lived the definition of nursing that day: compassion.

When I returned home, I was more convinced than ever that I wanted to pursue nursing. Some of the most taxing academic coursework of my life was soon to follow, and I became ever grateful for my emotional connection from Uganda to nursing and medicine that sustained me through many long nights of organic chemistry equations and biology exams. There were many moments of doubt and back up plans. After graduation, I began to work for an after school program designed to help disadvantaged and at-risk students. As I interacted with the children who struggled simply to get through each day and watched the community health nurse interact with the students in a positive way, I knew that nursing can and does change lives at every age. From the tender touch given to a newborn to nutrition and self-esteem activities for young girls, from Jinja, Uganda to Palatine, IL, I have seen nursing change the lives of many. The profession’s infinite variety of patients and specialties leaves no room for boredom or challenges, and no lack of research in disease and the populations affected by them as nurses strive toward better patient care and disease prevention. Most importantly, nursing is the practice of interaction with individuals in the healthcare setting with compassion, encompassing my favorite part of all my experiences.

I’m so thankful for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholarship, which is helping me to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse for at-risk populations. Without this scholarship, I would be burdened with debt and constantly worried about finances. Because of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I can focus wholly on my patients and practice this amazing profession.