MURRAY, Ky. — Victoria Smith of Frankfort is graduating from Murray State University this Saturday with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Over the course of Smith’s time at the University, she has been active in the Sigma Theta Tau international nursing honor society and with the Gamma Beta Phi national honor society. She has served as a mentor for the Growing into Respectable Outstanding Women (GROW) organization and as a student ambassador for the Office of Student Disability Services. During her time as a student, Smith also studied abroad in Belize, visiting two community hospitals and promoting health education in a local primary school.

This is her story.

Why did you select Murray State?

After visiting Murray State, I felt a great sense of hospitality and friendliness throughout the campus as well as a personable feel in the classrooms — a feeling that is valuable in knowing that a professor would know my name and that I wouldn’t be invisible so to speak. Making the transition from a small alternative high school to a four-year college would be overwhelming, so I wanted to be in a place that I knew I would excel academically and be afforded many valuable opportunities.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

After graduating, I plan to work as a registered nurse in central Kentucky. I will be attending a graduate program to complete a master’s degree in public health before I go on to obtain a doctorate in nursing practice. I aspire to obtain an education and post-graduate certification in mental health nursing practice that would allow me to not only be a family nurse practitioner but also competent in providing acute care for mentally ill patients. My area of research interest is behavioral and biological neuroscience, so in addition to my clinical practice, I hope to obtain a PhD in behavioral neuroscience.

What first sparked your interest in your chosen field?

have always had a passion for helping people — regardless of the career path I chose. The nursing field allows me to use compassion, intellect, empathy and so many more attributes to make a difference in someone else’s life. I have been able to use my own hardships in life to help those less fortunate with similar adversities and that gives me a great sense of purpose.

Why was earning a degree so important? What does this milestone mean to you?

As a first-generation college student, it was never not in my plan to go to college. I wanted to be able to overcome the socioeconomic hardship that my family and I knew so well, so that I could be an example for other members of my family and people in my community who aspire to achieve their dreams and goals. Having the honor of walking across the stage, receiving recognition for my academic merits and acquiring my diploma is a significant reminder that I can do all things that I put my mind to — in a sense, if I can dream it, I can achieve it.

How are you feeling now that graduation is approaching?

To be honest, I feel quite nervous. I have been a student since I was four years old and the thought of having to finish school (for a brief time) and enter the “real world” is a little intimidating.

Who is one of your favorite Murray State professors and why?

One of my favorite Murray State professors was Leon Bodevin in the Spanish program. I took his SPA 301: Conversation and Composition class when I was a psychology major and Spanish minor. He was one of the kindest professors I have ever encountered and was always willing to help me succeed in his class. Around the time he retired, I saw him on campus and he still remembered me and made sure I was still working on my conversational Spanish. I truly valued the experience and practice of using my language proficiency that I gained in his class.

What is one of your favorite Murray State traditions/experiences?

One of my favorite Murray State experiences is the multi-cultural cuisine night at Winslow [Dining Hall], where traditional meals of different countries worldwide are prepared.

What is something you’ve accomplished at Murray State that you’re most proud of and why are you proud of it?

There have been a lot of small goals that I’ve accomplished along the way but, overall, I am very proud of graduating with academic honors. Being able to succeed in my classes — especially in the nursing program — is all that I could have hoped to achieve while in college.

What opportunities have you been afforded at Murray State?

have been afforded the opportunity to study abroad in Belize, receiving an experience that was once-in-a-lifetime that I don’t think I could have received at any other institution in the same way. Murray State also afforded me the opportunity to be challenged and to learn more than academic lessons — life lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life.

What advice would you give to future generations of Murray State students?

My advice for future generations of Murray State students would be to be open to experiences and challenges even if they seem scary at first. When you push yourself outside a comfort zone and engage in the opportunity to learn something new about someone else or yourself, you are allowing a tremendous opportunity to gain more than a degree. You gain a better version of who you can and will be.

The December 2018 Commencement Ceremony will take place Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. in the CFSB Center. Use #RacerGraduation on social media to share your commencement experience. Additional information about the ceremony and a live-stream link are available at murraystate.edu/commencement.

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