Corinna Hughes, recent recipient of one of three Minority Nurse scholarships, is thrilled to be on her nursing school path and excited about where it will take her. But this University of Kentucky nursing major knows that enjoying each new step of the journey is a reward in itself.
“I just love the environment of it,” Hughes says of nursing school where she is active in several organizations and serves as vice president of the Phi Sigma Theta Honor Society. And through her broad-scope early clinicals, she has found great satisfaction in meeting patients and interacting with them. “You never know who you are going to get,” she says.
Whatever aspect of nursing Hughes ends up in, she knows that women's health and reproductive health is important to her. As an executive board member of VOX, an on-campus organization that acts as an advocate for Planned Parenthood, Hughes volunteers for activities, fundraises for women's care facilities, and raises awareness about reproductive and health issues among her peers.
Is discussing a potentially embarrassing subject ever uncomfortable for her? Not really, she says. “I feel that a lot of people are not well informed on our campus,” she says. And what you don't know about sex and your reproductive health can certainly change your life. “I just try to stay positive and keep smiling,” she says to dissipate any awkward feelings. “I know they are learning from it.”
In a letter of recommendation for Hughes, Magdelena Muchlinski, assistant professor in the anatomy and neurobiology department, called her star student “unflappable” noting that her maturity puts others at ease. She also noted Hughes' ability to not only interpret information but to use it to educate and help others in a way that is not judgmental. Hughes uses words like “persistent” and “organized” to describe herself and says simply that she is driven to be the best she can be.
With her mom as a nurse role model (she is an ER nurse), Hughes says she grew up listening to her mom's stories about how her shift went and watching her mom put herself through school to achieve her goals. Hughes says she saw the value of hard work and takes it upon herself to be self reliant.
Her independent streak also comes from her own personal story. As a biracial child in Kentucky, she experienced racism even in her own family. At the University of Kentucky, Professor Muchlinski noted Hughes is one of about 300 minority students on a campus of 30,000 students. “It definitely makes me feel overwhelmed in a way,” Hughes says. “Being an African American in a nursing program at the University of Kentucky is an accomplishment.” Out of the 80 or so in her program, Hughes is one of four minority students. “It is something to be proud of,” she says. In addition to her other activities, Hughes is also a member of a local chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.
As the recipient of many scholarships, Hughes says she works for each one. “I am always on the scout looking for scholarships or travel abroad opportunities,” she says. “And I am so thankful for anything. I know whatever I do right now is going to help me in the future.”
And travel is one way she hopes to broaden her knowledge and use that to become a better nurse eventually. She recently returned from a month-long stay in Germany on a scholarship which stoked her passion to see the world and gain a depth of cultural knowledge. “I want to experience the most I can to be the best I can be,” she says. “I just try to keep learning.”
In a letter she wrote to describe her successes and outlook, Hughes summed it up easily: “I foresee many challenges lying ahead of me, which without hesitation I am eager to encounter."
“I am just really thankful right now and hope God keeps blessing me,” she says.