Sonyette Walker, BSN, RN, always knew that nursing was her destiny.
Both of her parents worked at hospitals for more 35 years. Her mother was a registered nurse (RN) and her father was a physician assistant in cardiology. When she was still in high school, she told them she had made her decision: She planned to become a nurse when she grew up. They happily supported her decision.
A Dream Delayed
It wasn’t long before Walker learned that life has a way of making its own plans. She was working toward her nursing degree at Georgia Southern University when she received a devastating call from home. Her mother had unexpectedly passed away.
Distraught, she processed her sorrow with help from grief counselors. Their compassion inspired her to pursue a career in counseling instead. Walker changed her major to psychology and put her nursing dream on hold.
Although she enjoyed her studies, she soon realized that counseling wasn’t the right career for her. She felt the same about subsequent positions. She worked as a probation officer, a licensed realtor, and in a position with a large cable company. Years after professing her desire to become a nurse, Walker’s dream seemed farther away than ever.
“I felt like I was missing something in my life,” she says. “Like I wasn’t yet fulfilling my God-given purpose.”
She had no idea that what she was missing was waiting just around the corner.
The happiest day of Walker’s life was when her daughter, Haven, was born. But something else special happened that day: She rediscovered her drive to become a nurse.
“When my daughter arrived, the nurses in the hospital gave me the best care,” she shares. “They really inspired me. So, I applied for nursing school at Chamberlain University.”
Walker was pursuing her dream at last, but she knew she would have a lot of work ahead of her. Balancing her current job, nursing school, and motherhood would be challenging. Additionally, she wasn’t sure how she would pay for her nursing degree if the grant she applied for didn’t come through.
“I was a single mother,” she says. “I didn’t know how I was going to make it.”
Her employers at the cable company didn’t offer much sympathy. In fact, they let Walker go during a round of layoffs. However, when they called to break the news to her, they didn’t get quite the reaction they expected.
“I was the happiest person around!” she says with a laugh. “Sure, I was worried, too. But I knew this was God’s plan. He was pushing me to go after my dream.”
If she needed another sign, she got it when the organization funding her grant finally responded. She had been accepted, and she wouldn’t have to worry about paying for nursing school.
“When that happened, I knew once and for all that this path was for me,” she says.
Pursuing Her Passion
Though Walker was confident that becoming a nurse was the right decision, even she was surprised by how she excelled in nursing. In her first job at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center’s South Campus, she quickly established herself as a rising star.
She won several awards, including Nurse of the Year, Charge Nurse of the Year and Preceptor of the Year for Wellstar, as well as the Nurse First Award and The DAISY Award® for Extraordinary Nurses. She also landed positions as a leadership chair and Chamberlain advisory board member, where she could give back to the school that helped her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.
“By the time I graduated from Chamberlain, I was more prepared, a little tougher, and more able to think critically,” Walker notes. “Chamberlain supported me without ever making it too easy.”
Walker eventually moved on to a position in critical care at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital (she started work there on her mother’s birthday). She also continued to pick up shifts for Wellstar at its Windy Hill location in Marietta, Georgia.
Facing a Challenge: COVID-19
Walker, like all healthcare professionals, felt the pressure as hospitals and staff were strained by the influx of COVID-19 patients. Walker caught COVID-19 herself—twice. When she was healthy, she worked long hours with a short staff to get patient numbers back under control. Despite this, Walker remained hopeful through the pandemic.
“It was hard for everybody, but we had to keep our heads up and stay encouraged,” she says. Most importantly, Walker adds, nurses need to encourage one another. “We have to help and look out for each other.”
Becoming an Extraordinary Nurse
Today, Walker continues to excel in the nursing career she dreamed of. She credits Chamberlain University with providing the foundation for her success. She says, “They gave me the tools to be extraordinary from the start.”
If you want to become an extraordinary nurse like Walker, consider Chamberlain. The accredited university has a 130-year history of educating healthcare professionals. Join more than 93,000 alumni in a career caring for others. Chamberlain is dedicated to taking extraordinary care of its students, with the goal of preparing nurses and healthcare professionals to make a positive impact on healthcare globally.
Chamberlain offers Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs at 22 campuses across the U.S. Chamberlain also offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online degree program. A BSN online degree program enables students to take classes from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, without the need to commute to a campus. Chamberlain also offers an RN to BSN degree program that can enable registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as one year.
If you’re ready to follow your dream of becoming a nurse, choose a nursing school that will help you thrive. Choose Chamberlain.
Chamberlain University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org), an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master’s degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post graduate APRN certificate programs at Chamberlain University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.aacnnursing.org/CCNE).
By Chamberlain University
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