Natalie Comer (2nd Quarter, 2006)

2nd Quarter, 2006
Nursing Scholarship Winner
Natalie Comer

“It is such a great joy to see my calling unfolding before my eyes. With my acceptance to the University of Virginia and now beginning classes, it is truly all falling into place. I am very excited to begin this new chapter of my life. As a nursing assistant for the past three years, I have had many wonderful experiences. Now as I enter nursing school, many doors will be opened for future experiences.”

A Portion of Natalie’s Winning Essay:

Natalie Comer

Being a new mom and entering a full-time graduate school program, I will be unable to work. My husband will be the sole-provider for our family financially. At the present time he is only making $11.00 an hour. I know that I am called to be a nurse, and I have a strong faith in God that He will help us pay for school. With your help, we can make progress toward that goal–not to be served, but to serve.

The greatest show of love for others is through serving them. Love is an action, not merely a feeling. Physical acts of kindness by way of a smile, a hug or a laugh as well as through deeds such as giving a cup of water, a bite to eat or clean clothes are examples of love. Helping others meet their most basic needs from their soul to their physical body are all forms of service.

When I ponder what warms me inside, what fills my heart with love, what challenges me to allow goodness to flow from within me to others, it is when someone has served me. When I have been loved affectionately by someone else, the wellspring of life and love from deep within me pours out to those around me. There is great power in this kind of service. The seeds of trust and regard are planted by acts of love and service. Over time these seeds grow and impact our life in many areas. This type of change is for the good. It is a change that affects a person’s well-being as well as the lives in his/her circle of influence.

This is my calling: to serve others by loving them so that their outlook on life is more positive, their hope is higher, their love for and trust in others grows and their life is changed for the better.

Over the past two and a half years, I have seen the impact of love and service toward others at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Virginia Medical Center. I served as a Patient Care Assistant on 7 Central and 7 West. At the hospital, I cared for patients as young as a few days to occasionally 20 year olds. My role in this team of caregivers was to serve and care for the children I was assigned to as well as other children when I was able.

While caring for the children, it was imperative that I showed respect to and assisted the families as best I could. My specific duties for each patient in my care were as follows, but not limited to: measuring vital signs, recording input and output, assisting in activities of daily living, such as: baths, which included oral and hair care; diaper, clothing and linen changes if appropriate and as needed, assisting patients in ambulation, transfers in and out of bed, spending time talking, playing and/or holding patients depending on their age and always lots of love.

It was at the hospital that my calling was made clearer. In my past, I have always enjoyed working with and being around children. I knew my gift was relating to, caring for and being with children. I was unsure; however, in what facet this gift would best be invested.

Looking back at my past experiences with children, I can now see my life was being steered toward work that focuses on children who are suffering and in the midst of healing. Even while attending college in Florida and working part time, clues to my future were being shown to me. I worked at Pediatric Health Choice. This company provided medical supplies and medications to children with special needs. I worked in the office and the pharmacy and was exposed to the different supplies and medications I would eventually see and use and hear used all around me on the hospital floor. It was here that I remember the first glimpse of my calling.

One day I went with a nurse that worked with our company to a daycare center for special needs children that was fully staffed by nurses. This would be my first real exposure to children with special needs. Seeing a two-year old running around playing while a twenty foot long oxygen tube was attached to him was culture shock to me. At the same time he also deeply touched my heart.

The next pivotal experience happened in Charlotte, NC. I was completing my degree at the University of North Carolina and wanted to volunteer at the children’s hospital in Charlotte. I was only able to volunteer twice due to extenuating circumstances, however, the two visits I had greatly impacted me. I have never forgotten the children I met there.

One little girl, about three years old, came into the playroom with her grandmother. The little girl’s face appeared very sad as she looked around the room. At one point, I picked up a toy near where she was playing and handed it to her. For some reason this was so special to her, and her face lit up in a big smile. Her grandmother was so excited. She told me that in the four days since her surgery this was her first smile. Meetings like these do not happen by coincidence. I was meant to be there. She was meant to touch my life as much as I touched hers.

Following this experience, I worked as a nanny and babysat for several different families. One family, with a ten year old boy and twelve year old girl, was in the process of a divorce. Another family lost their mother just two months prior to my meeting them. An eight year old boy and twelve year old girl were trying to cope with such a tremendous loss. The third family included a two year old girl, an eight year old boy and ten year old girl. A few months before I began caring for them their father had committed suicide. Even though in these families the children were not ill due to disease, they were still suffering greatly. These experiences readied me in ways I had not imagined for life with ill and injured children.

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