Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I will be the fourth Akhiary to become a nurse – from the villages of Iran to the beaches of Santa Barbara. However, the true impetus was realized three years ago when I was presented with a situation showing where my strengths lie and what I’m truly passionate about.

Nursing was already tactically weaving its way throughout my life. Nearing the end of my first year in college, I received a troubling call from my brother. His shaky voice hinted something was wrong. Dad’s in the hospital and they think it might be cancer. My dad was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. When leukemia entered my life through my father’s body, like an unbidden guest, I felt confused and afraid. With the oncology nurse’s compassion and calming words, I had something to hold onto... hope. The hospital felt like a second home, and it was through those long nights and tired days, chemo and a bone marrow transplant, that I realized I needed to become a nurse. Over the next three years, I worked even harder to obtain my degree in Biopsychology while serving people in my community as a direct care volunteer with a local hospice and an oncological summer camp, helping children and adults deal with the various wrenches that disease inevitably throws at us.

In When Breath Becomes Air, late neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi explains, “it is our responsibility not to stave off death… but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.” I cannot agree more, in that healthcare professionals must provide for patients and their families regardless of age, socioeconomic status and race. So, in the spirt of trailblazers who came before me, such as Clara Barton and Lilian Wald, I intend to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Family Practice with a sub-specialty in adult oncology upon completion of U Penn’s ABSN program. Thank you for your time and reading my story. I am so grateful.

Mona from California
University of Pennsylvania