Outstanding Students

Rachel Vakulich

Q: Where are you from? (city, state) 

A: I am from Wellman, Iowa. 

Q: Why did you choose Kirkwood? 

A: I chose Kirkwood because I wanted to be the best nurse that I could be. I wanted to learn as much as I could from an institution that had high standards and high NCLEX passing rates. I also did not want to go into debt, so Kirkwood was one of my top choices. While I would have liked to get into a university, I discovered that I could wait a bit and take classes at a community college for a fraction of the cost.  

Q: What is your major and how did you choose it? 

A: My major is nursing. I chose this field because a lot of my friends and family do not know a lot about the medical field. When my infant cousin passed away, my aunt and uncle did not really know what had happened and why she died. Later, as I was studying about the cardiovascular system, I had the opportunity to explain what had happened in a way that they understood it. I love helping other people. This was one way that I could help others in what could be their darkest hours. I want to be the nurse that comforts the family that lost a loved one or cheer up the child who is undergoing chemotherapy.  

Q: What has been your proudest moment at Kirkwood?  

A: I think that my proudest moment was when I was finally accepted into the technical part of the nursing program at Kirkwood. All my hard work, sleepless nights, and tears had finally paid off.  

Q: What are your plans after Kirkwood? 

A: I plan to transfer to the University of Iowa to pursue my dream of graduating as a Hawkeye nurse. I plan to major in nursing and minor in music. I would love to work in the pediatrics or in obstetrics.  

Q: What inspires or motivates you? 

A: The people that inspire me are the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who fought Ebola virus in Liberia. They helped others even though they knew that the disease might eventually take their own lives. They took care of people when the world did not notice them or even wanted to care about them. They tried to save lives without thinking about all the honor and recognition that they might receive when the world started to notice.  

My family motivates me to be the best student that I can be. Some of my friends at church love to ask me questions about my school and their support motivates me to go on in school even if I feel like I am failing miserably at times.   

Q: Tell us about who you are outside of Kirkwood – hobbies, family, other interests, etc. 

A: I love to play the violin. It is my way to relax after a long day of studying. I also have younger siblings that love to be my patients when I need to practice any of my noninvasive nursing skills. I like to take them shopping or out to eat when I can. I have the most fun when I get to spend time with my family. I love to bake pies, cakes, pastries, cookies, and foreign sweets. A favorite tradition of mine is to invite all my little cousins to my house and bake as many cookies as possible in one day. One thing that most people do not realize is that I love to keep bees. I am a sixth-generation beekeeper who loves to spread the word about how important bees are to our agriculture.  

Q: What does be named an Outstanding Student mean to you? 

A: I was surprised when I received word that I was named an Outstanding Student. I had never thought that someone noticed me and decided to nominate me. It is a great honor to me. I know that there are a lot of other students who deserve this honor and to be picked out of all my peers is something that I will never forget. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

A: I would like to thank the instructor who nominated me for this. They must have seen potential in me to give me such a recognition. I would also like to thank my parents, Alex and Natasha, for allowing me to study and not do much else. They probably do not realize how much they have helped me with studying for exams or helping me with the many challenges of school. I would also like to thank my siblings for trying to give me quiet times to study and being my patients when I needed to practice skills. I would also like to thank God for giving me the strength to pick myself up when I feel down or when an exam did not go as I wished it to. 

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