From Navy to Nurse
By: Amy Sue Sawyer,
BSN Class of 2018
My name is Amy Sue Sawyer; I am a senior nursing student, single mom, and veteran. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a nurse, but I knew I wanted to serve others. Bellin College has changed my life and gave me many opportunities to do this.
My dream to serve others began with my service to my country, with the United States Navy for five years. I was a Second Class Petty Officer Seabee Combat Warfare Qualified Equipment Operator. Seabees were nicknamed “dirt sailors” because we spent more time in the sand working with equipment and never went on ships. An unfortunate event while serving changed my career path. I am not a victim, but a survivor of a military sexual trauma. That experience ended my active duty service but blessed me with an opportunity to heal and embrace life again. This change included enrolling at Bellin College to pursue my dream of continuing to serve others, leading me to a new career in nursing.
My career goal is to specialize in helping other survivors of sexual trauma while empathizing and advocating for them. While hiding the pain from my assault, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner encouraged counseling and helped me move toward my healing. She shined an introspective light for me to use my negative experience to learn to empathize with others of similar backgrounds, thus leading me to my current career path. She went above and beyond her level of caring while respecting and preserving my dignity. The level of care she displayed reflected onto me the very nurse I want to become. After much research on careers to serve others, I knew nursing was something I could do.
In fact, my grandmother graduated with a nursing degree from Creighton University in 1948. She worked in surgery and maternity for almost 40 years and served as a member of the board of the hospital she worked in. I did not know her that well, but from the stories I have heard about her, I imagine I am much like her, strong-willed, to say the least. You can say nursing is in my blood.
I have had some amazing experiences being a student at Bellin College, starting with employment at the college. I was hired to work in the Health Sciences Resource Center and was trained to help assist students with hands-on learning while practicing for skills testing. The staff is so knowledgeable and prepared me to teach fellow classmates. Not only did I get to help my peers, this progressed to teaching high school students the fundamentals of nursing while helping with Hands on Healthcare and summer camps. I spent many hours of my summer giving these students some great learning experiences and promoting the college for future nurses. I became a mentor to many of the students through our interactions and created some lifelong friendships.
Every faculty member I have shared my story with has encouraged me to continue to push forward and gave me much encouragement on this journey to complete my nursing degree. I have always been a person with a name. I have always felt welcome to speak openly about my life with everyone on campus and am blessed to have made so many friends at Bellin College, so much in fact, that I consider most my second family. I could not have made it through this journey without their support.