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Nursing Schools Almanac is excited to announce that Jillian Roberts is the third annual recipient of the $1,000 Aspiring Nurse Scholarship. Jillian recently graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. She is currently pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree at the University of Virginia, where she is a member of the Class of 2021.

The scholarship committee selected Jillian from a field of over 4,000 applicants. We were very impressed with her track record of academic excellence, including a 3.9 high school GPA and AP-level coursework in physics and calculus. We also enjoyed her well-written essay that illustrated a personal passion for the nursing profession. You can find her winning essay reproduced below.

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We'd like to congratulate Jillian on her accomplishments, and we wish her well in her future endeavors!

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I have spent a great deal of time grappling with the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I often left it unanswered. After admitting to myself that Disney Princess was not a viable career path, I pondered professions that might suit me. I realized that any field I chose needed to fulfill my intellectual curiosities as well as my drive to connect with and help others.

When I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The nurses who cared for me in the hospital provided a unique kind of comfort and support amidst overwhelming fear. Their explanations were comprehensible and compassionate. In the years that followed, I regularly saw a nurse practitioner who helped me to manage my condition and understand that I could live a healthy, normal life. She was someone I appreciated and admired. These interactions sparked a desire to do for others what nurses had done for me.

In preschool, I distinctly remember learning that a person's small intestine is 22 feet long. I enthusiastically repeated this fact for days. In elementary school, a friend and I would watch TV shows documenting medical cases and the work of healthcare professionals. Seeing details of the structure, function, dysfunctions, and treatment of the human body fascinated us. She and I played hospital in the same way that other kids played house. In middle school, my favorite class was life science and I would often read unassigned sections of my textbook for fun.

Later, I found a summer program at a hospital that gave students a glimpse into various medical professions. I spent several weeks learning from doctors, nurses, surgeons, and technicians. I typed my own blood, examined a human brain, practiced operating room prep procedures, and was fascinated by every moment. The experience confirmed that my long-known interests converge in the health sciences.

As someone who knows the experience of being a patient, I am driven to give back to the community of healthcare providers and improve the experiences of others. An education in nursing will provide me with opportunities to do this in a hands-on manner and by collaborating with other professionals to advance the field of medicine. There is no single destination I expect my education to take me. Instead, I see a nursing degree as a portal to opportunities that will suit my interests and allow me to serve every community that I encounter.