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A resilient force

Most nurses find their calling at an early age. Many can tell stories about working for a career in nursing their entire life. Alexandria Rushing doesn’t have that kind of story, but her circumstances brought her to Research College of Nursing/Rockhurst University’s joint nursing program. Originally attending Rockhurst as a pre-med student, she shadowed a nurse during her sophomore year. That experience changed everything and she immediately switched her major to nursing. Alexandria was surprised she fell in love with the field, but reflecting on her past makes her passion for nursing understandable. She has always been a caretaker.

Alexandria grew up in St. Louis with her grandmother. Both of her parents are addicts. She has never met her father, but is still involved in her mother’s life. Alexandria spent a lot of time caring for her and a high school friend diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young girl.

“Taking care of them when I was younger ended up playing a big role in my interest in mental health and overall health. Leaving St. Louis was a huge leap. It was a culture change. Your first and second year you have a lot taken care of for you, but once I started nursing school I had to become an adult.” 

Eventually, Alexandria was working three jobs - driving horse carriages, working on a landscape crew and interning as a nurse at Research Medical Center. Trying to find time to study was impossible. She failed pathophysiology.

“When I failed patho, I had to tell myself ‘hey, Alex you need to block out four hours this day, six hours that day, even 12 hours. Treat this like it’s a full-time job. You need to do this or you won’t be successful.’ And if I’m not successful in my nursing career then what am I doing here. It’s a waste if I’m not. Eventually, I had to seek out therapy because I lost myself somewhere in there.”

Typically a caretaker of others, Alexandria was in desperate need of care herself. She moved into on-campus housing at Research College of Nursing and received news that she was awarded a scholarship from The Research Foundation. It paid for an entire semester of housing. She was able to quit two of her three jobs.

“I continued to be a nurse intern at Research Medical Center, which was most vital to my career and the most enjoyable.” 

She suddenly had less to juggle. She utilized her scholarship to free up time and get her priorities straight. And in a timely fashion, her nursing classes began focusing on the importance of taking care of oneself before having the ability to take care of others.

Nursing school became the most important part of her life and she began developing an approach to her new career; treat a patient based solely on their needs. Because of her past, Alexandria knows better than to assume what her patients are dealing with outside of treatment. It’s not about her plan of care, it’s about the patient. The scholarship from The Research Foundation not only paid for her housing but gave her the time and energy for empathy. 

“The scholarship helped in a way that caused a domino effect of good things. When your basic needs are met you can actually pursue things that matter. It is such a blessing to wake up and have a place to live so I can go about my day trying to help people.”