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This post was written by Kiyra Jones, a recipient of the CUNY School of Professional Studies ACE Scholarship.

Throughout my life, I have come to appreciate and embrace opportunities afforded to me. I have always believed that the confluence of my ambition and presented opportunities would inevitably lead to success. I am eternally grateful to have been a recipient of the ACE Scholarship as it has helped me complete my BSN, which is essential to my ultimate goal. My journey has not been a straight path but one filled with pit stops and detours. I hope that by writing this blog, others will be inspired regardless of where they are currently—whether peaks or valleys. Through introspection, I have come to realize that while I always viewed education as essential, life lessons learned can never be understated. During the course of my studies, there are three important elements that I can say have helped me to never give up or lose sight of my ultimate goal.

Firstly, my passion for nursing has always been there. As I am writing this I can recall vividly, during my formative years, I received a Fisher Price medical kit as a Christmas gift. I would play and use this kit every chance I got, whether using it on my mom and my brother, even my pets were not spared. I was always fascinated by the human anatomy and how different parts of the body worked in such harmony. This deep rooted curiosity along with my desire and affinity for helping people directed me on a path to pursue a career in nursing. So even when faced with challenges in my life, that passion always kept burning within me and helped me to persevere amid life struggles.

Secondly, my ambition to succeed has never wavered and I must attest that without it I may have given up. One of my favorite quotes by Roy T. Bennet, in The Light in the Heart, is “Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.” I always attempted never to put a limit on what I can achieve even when that may have seemed reasonable and pragmatic at times. As a young black woman growing up, I have always been told by those before me of things that I cannot be or careers that are out of my reach. However, I was never deterred or deflated by those words, it only further incentivized me to go after what my heart truly yearns for. I did not let breaks in my studies, whether for financial reasons or otherwise, shut the door on my dreams.

Finally, while passion and ambition were indisputably important, they would mean very little without opportunity. For this, I will be eternally grateful to the ACE scholarship program for providing me with the opportunity to pursue my goal. As I near completion, I have no intention or desire to stop here. I fully intend to make full use of this by furthering my studies in the field of anesthesiology, which is my ultimate ambition. The ACE Scholarship has been vital to the realization of my dream of becoming a qualified nurse anesthesiologist. By no means is my journey over, however, I believe as with everything in life, it is important to look back in order to move forward with even greater enthusiasm and appreciation. So I move forward and am ready to board the train of opportunity afforded, growing from the experience and enjoying the ride toward the next level of success.

Kiyra Jones is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). She will graduate from the Nursing degree program on May 31, 2017.

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Dear Journal,

In this line of work, it is not that hard to consider coworkers as close friends since they also fight that same fight each shift next to you.  And just like when patients come and go on the job, so do fellow nurses you will always remember working with, even after they have gone on to do other, better things.  Here is an ode to you all out there in the greater expanse, to whom others have so depended on (to the previous members of our “A” Team):

I got you…I got you…

at work a dear friend is moving on

like the everyday shifting of a vagabond

taking with it a continent of years of routine

to the motto of: “I swim, You swim. You swim, I swim” until the waters we fight through are clear and pristine

one last time I’ll pass your meds, you take the MD orders. Will be hard to see choppy waters

not the same feelings the next time around me it gathers

no more that one to dare me further, as that feeling of my strength starts to weaken

to another shift with no break, no time to eat and…

so here’s another thought for you to take on the road

put your worries down for more than a while

and I, rescuer of short shifts, will share your load

while incessant insults jokingly, at you, will be thrown in exchange for a laugh and a smile

—Inah Castro

Inah Castro has been a practicing nurse since 2009. She first started out as an LPN and is currently attending CUNY SPS for her BS in nursing. She is bicoastal, as she is licensed in California as well as New York, and has over the years worked on both ends of the country. Inah enjoys writing, cooking, and boxing/kickboxing.