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Student Inspired by Sister to Become a Nurse
Gabby Felker
Omaha, NE

Gabby Felker was 9 years old when her sister had an accident. Molly, then 2, choked on a hot dog that left her with a traumatic brain injury.

“Throughout my childhood, I witnessed a lot of healthcare – doctors, physician assistants and nurses,” Gabby said. “The ones that had the biggest impact on our family were the nurses. We spent a lot of time with them. They were with us on hard days and great days.”

Those experiences led Gabby to the decision to become a nurse and enroll at College of Saint Mary after graduating from Millard West High School. She is working on her preceptorship in the pediatrics unit at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and studying for her NCLEX-RN.

CSM’s nursing program has been “phenomenal” for Gabby, who chose CSM for athletics and her education. The small class setting was beneficial.

“Especially when it’s a class for your major,” she said. “You’re able to ask the questions when you need to, and you’re able to schedule appointments with your professors,” she said. “The professors have just done a good job pouring into us, getting to know us personally and getting to know us as students and how we learn best.”

Gabby also acknowledged her professors’ nursing experience. CSM’s nursing faculty have worked in various specialties from prenatal, pediatrics, surgical, and acute care.

“They all come from different backgrounds, different areas of nursing, so they can give you something different,” she said.

This past fall, nursing faculty members showed Gabby how deeply they care for their students when her sister had a long hospital stay and was not doing well.

“I got emails from two or three different professors. ‘I’m really proud of you and thinking of you,’” Gabby said. “That was just so special. You wouldn’t get that at a big school.”

Megan Ray, EdD, RN, nursing program director, impacted and encouraged Gabby throughout her college career.

“On the last semester exam, she hand-wrote each student a note about why we’ll make a great nurse and wished us luck,” Gabby said.

“Gabby, I know you’ll make a great nurse because you have so much experience with your sister,” Ray wrote.

Today, Molly is 14. She’s nonverbal and confined to a wheelchair.

“We know her sense of humor. She’ll laugh when something is funny,” Gabby said. “She smiles when she sees people she loves. Her personality is so sweet.”

Though she will officially graduate following a pinning ceremony in July, Gabby participated in CSM’s Commencement ceremony in May. Her sister was in attendance.

“It was so special,” Gabby said.

Gabby has accepted a job as a pediatric float nurse at the Medical University of South Carolina Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston, S.C. She’ll work in med-surge, oncology and pediatric ICU. She hopes to become a nurse practitioner and serve underprivileged areas overseas through medical missions.