Jacquelyn Green

Receiving the UMSL Women Scholarship helped accelerated BSN student Jacquelyn Green afford tuition. She hopes to help others and see the world as a travel nurse and a volunteer with Mercy Ships after her expected graduation in summer 2021. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A fifth-grade assignment to pick a book from the library changed the course of Jacquelyn Green’s life.

She happened upon a novel about the Mercy Ships – a charitable organization that sends health care volunteers and other humanitarian aid to communities around the world on hospital ships – and was enthralled.

“I fell in love with the idea of helping people with a focus on medical help,” she said. “After reading that book, I wanted to go to underdeveloped countries and bring medical assistance. I felt so strongly about that. Health care is a right, not a privilege, like food and shelter.”

Green, who is now in the Accelerated BSN program in the College of Nursing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has been propelled by her desire to make a difference ever since. But her path from middle school to nursing school wasn’t a straight shot.

She enrolled at Missouri State University after high school knowing she wanted to go into health care. After working on neuro-psychology research with one of her professors, Green realized she wanted to become a nurse. The fastest way to that goal, she realized, would be to wrap up her BS in psychology and then enroll in an accelerated BSN program.

“I ended up going with nursing because I’m a very social person,” she said. “I love talking to people. I love meeting new people. I just love having that personal interaction. Also, I have a passion for so many different areas of health care, and I knew that if I went into nursing, I would be able to switch specialties fairly easily without having to go back to school.”

Green started looking for programs around her hometown of St. Louis and settled on Saint Louis University. She enrolled and was slated to start after finishing at MSU.

Then the financial reality caught up to her.

“It was terrible,” she said. “I was crying, and my Dad was like, ‘If we have to, we will make the finances work, but you should not start school this stressed out.’”

It was all too much, and she withdrew the day before classes started. Green started worked two jobs to save money for school.

Last August, she decided to try again, this time at UMSL. But something different happened on the second go-around: Green was awarded an UMSL Women Scholarship.

“I was totally surprised,” she said. “I felt super blessed to get that scholarship because every little bit helps so much. I feel very thankful for that.”

Since then, Green has made the most of school, even throughout the challenges presented by the pandemic. She’s been impressed by how helpful her professors and UMSL support services, such as the E. Desmond Lee Technology and Learning Center, have been. She’s also found community by forming a socially distanced study group.

Some of her favorite experiences so far have been getting to do her clinicals in the hospital and learning about organizations such as the American Association of Nurse Attorneys, which is comprised of individuals with both degrees.

“That is awesome,” Green said. “I feel so passionately about health care as a whole that I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I could be an attorney, too.’”

Though it’s still early for Green, one particular area of interest for her is geriatric populations. Her interest stems from her work as a patient care associate on the medical surgery floor at Mercy Hospital in Washington, Missouri.

Being in the hospital during a pandemic, both for her job and during clinicals, has tapped into why Green felt drawn to nursing.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions toward it,” she said. “When the pandemic first started, I remember talking to my boss about it at the hospital. I was like, ‘This is why I went into health care. I wanted to make a difference.’

“I get the fear behind it, but this is why I wanted to do this. I wanted to help people, and it feels like the perfect opportunity for that. I wish there wasn’t a pandemic, but I am excited that I get to experience one of the hardest times in health care right as I’m starting off.”

Though Green is truly at the beginning of her nursing career, she’s already thinking ahead and sees more education in her future – possibly becoming a nurse practitioner or a nurse attorney.

Then there’s the travel. In addition to volunteering with an organization such as the Mercy Ships, she hopes to see the world after graduating as a travel nurse after her expected graduation in August 2021.

“As a travel nurse, you sign contracts with different hospitals throughout the U.S. that need the most help,” Green said. “I thought that would be perfect for me because I want to go where I am needed. I love high-intensity, high-rush situations, so I don’t mind being somewhere that maybe is a little understaffed. I feel like I’m really making a difference in those situations because they really need the help.”

Jessica Rogen

Jessica Rogen

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life
Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.