Meet Spencer and Natasha Withers! They are both students of the BYU nursing program. Spencer, a third-semester student, is from Westbranch, Michigan–a small farm town with a population of approximately 2,000. He grew up the oldest of six siblings. Natasha, who goes by Tasha, grew up the oldest of three sisters in Meridian, Idaho, and graduated just last fall.
Spencer left high school thinking he was going to be a nurse. But after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bakersfield, California, he wasn’t entirely sure. He recalled, “I thought I’d come home and know what I wanted to do. And I came home and had no idea what I should do.” He shadowed a couple of physicians, and it seemed like a good fit. As he began classes as a pre-med major, however, Spencer realized that the lifestyle of being a physician didn’t align with his goals. “I wanted to be more available for my future family,” he said. “As a nurse, I still get to work in health care, but I don’t have to be away from family as much.” His current desire is to attend graduate school to become a nurse anesthetist.
Tasha was raised with the desire to attend BYU. “I’m a fifth-generation BYU student,” she informed me. Although she didn’t have a clear idea of which profession to choose, she knew BYU was the right place to be. Tasha had a friend who described nurses who worked with babies in high school. This sparked a fascination with nursing in Tasha. “I took classes that related to nursing such as anatomy, and I looked at BYU’s prerequisites for the nursing program. For a while, I considered being a doctor. But, ultimately, I decided to do nursing because I wanted the opportunity to interact with patients and get to know people.” Since graduating last December, she has been working as a labor and delivery nurse at American Fork Hospital.
Tasha’s met Spencer her semester following her mission to Minnesota. “My roommate pointed her out to me,” Spencer recalled. “She was the chorister in our singles ward. My first impression of her was that she was adorable.” Later, he saw her at the testing center. “That was the first time I ever talked to her. I tapped on her desk and said, ‘good luck on your test’ as I was walking out.” Tasha continued the story saying, “He introduced himself at a ward prayer. I thought he seemed shy, but I noticed right away that he was very sweet.” Then, at the encouragement of his roommate, Spencer asked Tasha out on a date.
After sitting together at a Saturday session of a stake conference, the pair went on their first date to a Korean restaurant called KoKo Lunchbox. They followed dinner with a trip to Nickel City, where Tasha recalled, “Spencer was shocked because I beat him at everything, except for skeeball.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Being in the same profession as a couple has its perks. “It’s nice because he understands what I go through at work,” Tasha said. “I was in the program while we were dating, and the beginning of our marriage, and it was tough. And now I can better support him because I know what he’s been through.” Spencer added, “We’re familiar with what each other does, and that’s helpful for decompression sake. Tasha can come home and talk to me about work. And while anybody can listen, I’m also able to understand and respond. And when one of us has questions, it’s nice that we can have a conversation about it.” But there are a few downsides to being in the same program. “We had to learn not to compare,” Spencer explained, commenting on their competitive natures. Tasha also said, “We don’t talk about grades; we just congratulate each other for our successes. It would create a lot of tension in our marriage if we were constantly comparing ourselves to each other and how we did in the program.”
For other couples in the program together, Tasha expressed, “Make sure that you’re not talking about nursing all the time. Even though you are a nurse, or a nursing student, that’s not your whole identity.” Spencer explained about their marriage, “Our relationship didn’t start with us both in the nursing program. It was built on other things, and it was a happy coincidence that we ended up studying the same thing. It’s important for couples in a similar situation to find other things to talk about.”
Some of those things include entertainment. Tasha and Spencer like watching shows together. A few of their favorites are Psych, The Great British Bake Off, and “anything on Disney+.” Additionally, following some trial and error, Spencer convinced Tasha to enjoy fishing–though he admits it’s a lot more enjoyable in his home state of Michigan. Finally, Tasha picked up the quarantine hobby of being a plant mom. “I love taking care of houseplants,” she said. “It’s therapeutic for me. I’m a perfectionist, and I struggle when my plant looks ugly or isn’t growing very fast. I’m always frustrated, but I feel like it’s taught me many life lessons about how it’s okay to grow at a really slow pace. And it’s okay not to look your best all the time or be your best all the time.”
Happy Valentine’s Day to this beautiful couple and all of our readers!