By Brooklyn Murray
Meet our next alumni spotlight, Rachael Andrews (BS ’03)! Though born in the United States, Rachael grew up in Hong Kong and graduated from high school there. Her years at BYU were some of the first she experienced in the United States. After graduating, Rachael and her husband moved around the country several times, living in Florida, Utah, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, and currently Indiana. In 2020 she graduated from Duke University with a master’s degree as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.
Just before moving to North Carolina, she found a flyer in the mail for an open house at Duke University highlighting graduate programs. Initially disappointed she couldn’t go, her family decided to go there for Spring Break. One of the admissions officers told her there was an opening for a neonatal nurse practitioner in the fall so she decided to apply. She was accepted and began her program while also working part time in a Level 4 NICU and in the process of moving. All seemed to be going well even if it was busy, then her husband lost his job after about a year. Despite every effort to find another, it wasn’t meant to be. He found a job in Indiana, and luckily Rachael was able to continue working on her studies there as well. Covid-19 added another challenge to her plans when the hospital near where they moved in Indiana enacted a hiring freeze. Though the hospital had agreed to hire her once she finished her degree, they were no longer able to do so. Instead, she accepted a job as a neonatal nurse practitioner at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, a three hour commute from her home. There were many additional steps she had to take between accepting the job and actually practicing, but Rachael was excited to start working there this year.
When asked about how BYU influenced her nursing career, Rachael says, “It was really foundational for my identity as a nurse.” Despite many challenges over the years, she has been able to keep building on the ideas of “Learning the Healer’s Art” and incorporating the Savior’s example. The challenging coursework and many resources helped her be more prepared for working and graduate school. At one point, a professor in her graduate program was giving instructions for a lab and mentioned that most students likely hadn’t had experience with cadavers in their undergrad. Rachael was surprised by this because she had been given such opportunities, which she is incredibly grateful for.
Another significant help to Rachael was the inspiration she received from the faculty here in the College of Nursing. She hadn’t seriously considered going on to a master’s program until she was surrounded by the influence of so many women who had received advanced degrees. In one class there was a discussion about who was considering graduate school. Rachael remembers raising her hand and knowing that she could do it, that that was the correct path for her. Years later that picture was still in her mind and was a significant influence in her decision to apply to Duke University.
To aspiring nurses or those considering a graduate program she says, “Remember that there is no one path for everyone. As you listen to the Spirit you can find a way that will work for you and your family.” Rachel’s life has taken many unexpected twists and turns, but she has realized that is how her path is supposed to be. She advises younger students to get help from older students and for those older students or nurses to be willing to help the younger students out. Working together will be more beneficial than trying to keep things to yourself. If you have a desire to be a good nurse, you’ll be able to do it.