By Corbin Smith
If you have spent any time around the College of Nursing, you can likely recognize the smiling face of associate teaching professor Gaye C. Ray (AS ’81, BS ’82). Ray has been a professor at the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University for eight years and, in that time, solidified her reputation of being a perfect representation of her last name: a shining ray of sunshine for all she comes in contact with. The question remains, however, how does Ray maintain such a positive and cheerful attitude every day?
Ray’s answer is simple yet resounding: “I love people. Most everybody makes me happy!” This incredible sentiment can be understood by learning more about Gaye’s life and unique upbringing.
Ray began her life and spent the majority of her childhood in Pasadena, California. Her mother was a social worker, her father was a professor at Cal Tech, and she was the oldest of six siblings that she would do anything for. When she was a junior in high school, her father accepted a job at BYU, moving the family from sunny Southern California to the beautiful Wasatch Mountains.
After graduating from high school, Ray attended BYU, where she met her husband, Larry (which is a fantastic story that you’ll have to ask Ray herself about). After graduation, they moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where Ray worked to help staff a local hospital and the Ray family added a baby girl. From there, they moved to Washington, DC, where two twin boys were added to the family, and Ray’s appreciation and love for others grew.
After a few years in DC, Ray and her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where they spent the next 20 years. In Georgia, Raye worked as a school nurse and as a telephone nurse with Kaiser Permanente and even found time to complete grad school at Georgia State University. After obtaining her master’s degree, she worked at Emory University Hospitals and Clinics in the radiology department as a research and clinical FNP.
In 2012, Ray found herself back in Utah once again, this time in her current position as a professor at the BYU College of Nursing.
Ray has lived in many parts of the country, and it has made a significant impact on her. “Everyone I have met from different parts of the country has something special about them,” she says, “They all have added a unique spice to my life and have made me feel comfortable and happy in their special way.” Although we all live in the same country, we have differing cultures, and Ray has been fortunate enough to experience the best parts of many of them. That is why she is so cheerful. That is why she loves people as much as she does.
One way she makes a difference is by memorizing incoming nursing students’ names and faces using flashcards before each semester. This allows her to call on students during the first day of class and makes for a more powerful lecture.
This Christlike love has guided Ray in her life as she impacts the campus with her nursing knowledge and skills.
Truly, Ray has dedicated her entire life to mastering her craft. Along the way, she has learned important lessons that can be beneficial for all of us: “In nursing we laugh, cry, work hard, find joy, and even get frustrated on occasion. Give yourself time to reflect on the good things in nursing, smile at those around you, celebrate that you help people every day, and make a difference.”
May we all be a ray of sunshine for others, just like Ray herself.