Student Enters Nursing Field to Help and Serve Others

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Tara R. Hayes (’16) Discovers Passion for Teaching  

Tara Roberts Hayes, left, talks to high school seniors at Gardner-Webb's Nursing Preview Day.

When Tara Roberts Hayes (’16) of Forest City, N.C., was a teenager, her best friend was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition. She earned the nickname of “Mother Hen,” because of the hours she spent taking care of her friend. “My curiosity of the medical field and desire to help and serve others pointed me in the direction of nursing, but this situation solidified the call I had felt for so long,” Hayes reflected.

Gardner-Webb was at the top of her college search list. She comes from a family of GWU alumni and remembered running around the quad when her father worked at the University. Before making her decision, she decided to visit GWU again. “I was very thankful for the opportunity to stay overnight and experience campus life first hand,” Hayes observed. “There was no doubt that GWU was where the Lord was calling me to pursue my undergraduate degree.”

After completing her Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) as a traditional undergraduate student, she was hired as a GWU lab assistant and pursued her Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through the Degree Completion Program (DCP). “Gardner-Webb and DCP made the transition seamless, which was a welcome experience after the stress of nursing school and exam preparation,” Hayes assessed. “As a student in DCP, I appreciated the opportunity to be able to complete assignments at my own pace to work around my schedule. My role as a lab assistant in the simulation labs as well as tutoring students, allowed me the opportunity to put the knowledge I was gaining in my DCP courses into practice. The professors were always so helpful and accessible.”

Courses about community and public health nursing and perspectives of caring were directly applicable to the job she accepted when she graduated with her BSN in 2013. “I took on a unique job as a nurse working in pharmaceutical research,” Hayes related. “My courses helped me to understand a nurse’s role in service to the community. Many times, patients turn to research as a last alternative, or an option when they have nowhere else to turn and nothing to lose. As a nurse, this is where I am able to impact and make a difference.”

In addition to learning about her profession, Hayes also grew personally. “The growth I experienced within myself, my interpersonal relationships, and my career path is what I value most about my Gardner-Webb experience,” she shared. “GWU provided the environment to help cultivate this growth and, in turn, increased my confidence, expanded my passion, and enlarged my service. During my time as a lab worker, my desire to be an educator revealed itself. ”

While completing her Master of Science in Nursing Education, Hayes has been able to stay at home with her child and continue working as a GWU graduate assistant. “My various courses in research, leadership, and concepts of professional nursing directly prepared me for furthering my education,” she affirmed. “The MSN with a concentration in education has provided the tools I will need to teach at a level of higher education in the future. As the graduate assistant in the Hunt School of Nursing, I have the opportunity to host supplemental instruction sessions in which I provide help to nursing students alongside their regular classroom lectures. This has been a blessing as I have been able to connect with students, form relationships, and, ultimately, watch them transform into fantastic nurses.”