Nursing Student Becomes First Nursing Recipient of Wheatley Scholarship in 2 Years

By Corbin Smith

Our students here at the BYU College of Nursing are incredible. Why, you may ask? We contend that our students are the best in the world because their talents and passions often go beyond the hospitals and IVs. Our students not only try to share the Healer’s art through medicine and caregiving, but they also exemplify the Healer Himself everywhere and in every way they can.

Enter Sarah Larsen, a 3rd semester student from Orem, Utah. Larsen is just one of the countless number of spectacular students in the BYU College of Nursing. She studies hard, works even harder and is just one of those people you love talking to and being around. There is, however, one thing that makes her different than her peers.

Photo courtesy of Larsen

She is one of the 10 undergraduate students to receive the 2020 Wheatley Leadership Scholarship from the Wheatley Institution. She is the first nursing student to receive such an honor since 2018.

According to the Wheatley Institution website, the scholarship is offered to juniors who have been nominated by faculty that notice students who fit the criteria of the scholarship. Those students must have achieved a competitive GPA at BYU and are examples of leadership, character and integrity here on campus. The scholarship supports the student through two years of their undergraduate studies and one year of graduate school at the institution of the student’s choice.

Larsen was nominated for the Wheatley Leadership Scholarship by associate teaching professor Gaye Raye. When explaining why she nominated Larsen for this award she gives high praise when Raye says, “Sarah has an unusual ability to make those around her comfortable, which is an invaluable skill for a nurse. She is an engaged learner, comes prepared and ready to attend to the subject matter, and completes her assignment on time and in an extraordinary manner.”

Larsen is not only an exceptional student, but also a phenomenal human being. Raye went on to share a story where she witnessed Larsen’s kind heart go to work. During a community agency visit, shares Raye, one of the students fainted and was injured during the fall. Raye recounts, “Sarah quickly stepped in to support the student and deliver first aid, transport her to the emergency room, gather her homework from professors during her recovery, communicate with her family and professors, and in exceptional fashion managed the situation as a seasoned professional.”

This immediate reaction of service is no surprise for those who know Larsen because, as Larsen says herself, the coolest part about being a nurse is having the skills to help people at any time and in any place. “I love being able to serve people physically, spiritually and emotionally. If people are hurting, I care about them and having those skills to be able to do that helps me see that God has just blessed me a lot.”

This way of thinking has been instilled in Larsen since the moment she realized nursing might be for her. In high school, Larsen realized she had a talent with numbers and computers and she believed she would study and work in finance long term. That all changed one day during her junior year of high school. Larsen shares, “One day one of my best friends got hit by a car when she was walking to school. One of my other friend’s mom, who is a nurse, happened to be driving by and was able to hop out and help my friend until the ambulance arrived. It just really stuck with me.” From that moment forward Larsen has put herself on a path to be ready to act if a situation similar ever were to happen in her life.  

Larsen is also particularly special because, although she has committed her undergraduate studies to nursing, she has not completely left behind her love of numbers. While she works tirelessly in class, clinicals and other activities, she works part time as a financial assistant at the BYU Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship! Incredible, right? How many nursing students do you know working in finance?

Larsen wants to make sure the Wheatley Institution knows how grateful she is for the generous scholarship. “It makes me want to dream a little bigger, especially now that graduate school is going to happen!” she says. Larsen is considering the possibility to study to become a forensic nurse.

As Larsen continues in school and her life she is guided by a special story about President Spencer W. Kimball’s wife. Many years ago there was a young girl who wanted to make a tie for President Kimball. When she arrived at his door to give him the tie, she convinced herself she was crazy and began to walk away. President Kimball’s wife saw the young girl, stopped her and shared with her this valuable piece of advice, “Never suppress a generous thought.” Larsen has committed herself, in no matter what she does and where she goes, to never suppress a caring, generous thought.

Published by BYU Nursing

Guided by the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we exemplify the Healer’s art by: leading with faith and integrity; advancing the science of nursing and healthcare; promoting health and wellness; alleviating suffering; and serving individuals, families, and communities. The mission of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University is to learn the Healer’s art and go forth to serve.

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