Kedrick Nettleton, Staff Writer

Sheryl Wade is a nursing student with Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s Adult and Graduate Studies Program. Incidentally, she also happens to be one of the 100 best nurses in the state.

Wade was honored in September by the Great 100 Nurses Foundation, which exists to honor excellence amongst those in the profession in Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Arkansas. According to the Foundation, selections for these honors are based on “concern for humanity, their contributions to the profession of nursing, and their mentoring of others.” And Wade, who attends a BSN program on OKWU’s Coffeyville campus, certainly checks all of those boxes.

She came by the profession honestly; she credits her mother as her greatest influence, who was and still is a nurse as well. Her desire to be an effective caregiver to her own family was also a factor. “I had young children, and I wanted the knowledge and ability to care for my family, especially in an emergency situation,” she said.

“Nursing has changed over the last twenty years… Nurses have become strong patient advocates.” 

Nursing wasn’t the first step in her educational journey, though. Wade had studied to be an accountant initially and had taken most of her prerequisite classes with this goal. That meant that when she decided to shift to nursing, a lot of the roadblocks in class load had already been removed.

Sheryl (pictured left) receiving her honor.

To Wade, it’s the personal aspects of nursing that are the most important. What gets her out of bed is the responsibility of her work, the aspect of being a part of a team that gets to make people’s lives better. She’s humble, too – when she was first notified that she would be receiving the 100 Nurses Foundation Honor, she didn’t know what to think.

“I thought my boss was playing a joke on me,” Wade said. “I also felt that there are so many other nurses that deserve the recognition. 100 is not enough.”

Wade was enrolled in a different BSN program before coming to OKWU, but had to drop out due to health concerns. In fact, she’s currently overcoming a cancer diagnosis, which has given her a new level of empathy when it comes to patient care. “I have a new respect for people with chronic illnesses,” she said. “The lifestyle adjustments, the medications, the doctor visits, the tests and procedures they endure, the financial burden and the worry… I also realize that most patients won’t or can’t tell you how they truly feel when they’re ill or in pain.”

A Willingness to Work Hard

This empathy is what makes Wade go above and beyond in her patient care, and it’s what strengthens her even through the challenging aspects of her work, which has continued to change and grow since she began. Still, most of these shifts are positive.

“Nursing has changed over the last twenty years,” she said. “Doctors and nurses work together, rather than the nurse just doing what the doctor orders. Nurses have become strong patient advocates.”

Through work, overcoming a diagnosis, and school, Wade has already conquered more than her fair share of challenges. But she speaks glowingly of OKWU and the role that the university has played in helping her achieve her goals—and she’s passionate about others following in her footsteps.

“Don’t wait,” she said. “The longer you wait, the less likely you will go to school. It’s never too late.”

Kelli Croucher, AGS Enrollment Services Manager, points to this willingness to take on a challenge as the thing that sets Sheryl apart. “I admire Sheryl for her strength and determination,” Croucher said. “Prior to enrolling, we talked about how she had put off going back to school for too long, and she was ready to jump back in. Sheryl is the type of student that enrollment managers and academic advisors dream of working with, because you just know she will be a blessing to so many others along her own academic journey.”

Wade is quick to point out that it doesn’t take anything more than a willingness to work hard to succeed educationally or in the field of nursing. “You don’t have to be smart, just determined and motivated,” she said. “Some of the best nurses aren’t geniuses, just determined, hardworking, and they have common sense. Don’t ever let someone discourage you. Just prove them wrong.”

If you’re interested in furthering your nursing education with OKWU’s Adult and Graduate studies program, you can get more information here.

“Some of the best nurses aren’t geniuses, just determined, hardworking, and they have common sense. Don’t ever let someone discourage you. Just prove them wrong.” 

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