Esther Nwokoji receives scholarship from the Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis

by | Oct 24, 2022

Nwokoji has thrived in the College of Nursing with a 3.9 GPA and received a $1,000 Edith L. Cole scholarship in recognition of her academic success.
Esther Nwokoji

Nursing student Esther Nwokoji received a $1,000 scholarship from the Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Nigerian native Esther Nwokoji remembers being in the first grade when her teacher hosted a Career Day, known in Nigeria as “Skills Day.”

Her teacher laid out different items that represented various professions. The students were told to choose the items that appealed to them, and though it was a somewhat a lofty request to little children, Nwokoji immediately gravitated to the nursing kit, displaying an interest that would stay with her until this day.

Nwokoji is now a senior in the University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Nursing and is scheduled to graduate in December. Her sister, Hope, also graduated from the UMSL nursing program, which played a role in Nwokoji choosing the university for her nursing degree.

Nwokoji has thrived in the program, earning a 3.9 GPA, and the Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis recently recognized her for her academic success by awarding her a $1,000 Edith L. Cole scholarship.

Tonya Haynes, assistant teaching professor in the College of Nursing and coordinator of the UMSL/BJC Summer Nurse Externship Program, has worked with Nwokoji and observed her strong aptitude for nursing.

“Esther is an outstanding student,” Haynes said. “She is highly engaged, kind, compassionate and motivated. Esther rapidly comprehends new knowledge and skills and asks relevant questions when indicated. She adapts well to change and works well both independently and on team tasks and projects. Esther will indeed be an asset to the profession of nursing. She deserves the award because of her passion, extraordinary drive, impact and commitment to nursing excellence.”

Though she’s done well with her studies, Nwokoji admits time management and the rigors of the program are challenging.

“Honestly, it’s a lot of work as the semester progresses,” Nwokoji said. “I never really got a break because over the summer I did a 10-week externship. This last semester is a comprehensive review of everything you have gone through in the semester. So it’s a lot of information to recap and to continue to understand. They’re not only just getting us ready to graduate but to also take the NCLEX board exam as well.”

What has gotten Nwokoji through the difficult moments and times when she felt overwhelmed is her faith and the support of her professors.

“I have broken down in front of my faculty members, and they provided encouragement and motivation,” she said. “They would literally speak life into me and my education and just motivate me.”

Nwokoji’s will to stay motivated and keep on top of her coursework is part of the reason she was nominated for the scholarship. Wilma J. Calvert, an associate professor in the College of Nursing who was on the scholarship selection committee, was impressed by Nwokoji’s application and self-assurance in her work.

“Several things stood out to me about Esther from her application,” she said. “Her self-confidence was quite obvious. She clearly indicated that she was the most qualified for this scholarship and deserved to be selected as a scholarship recipient because of her hard work and dedication toward achieving her goal. I didn’t get the feeling she was being arrogant or overly confident but simply stating the facts of her abilities.”

Nwokoji was very ecstatic to be selected.

“When I found out, I was exceedingly happy and really, really grateful.” she said. “God gave me something I needed. I was just grateful and thankful that I received it.”

Nwokoji also demonstrates her commitment to her profession by being an active member of UMSL’s Student Nurses Association, participating in various community activities put on by the organization.

“I just really feel like the emergency department is in my blood,” Nwokoji said. “I love it because it’s organized chaos. I love the adrenaline. It’s like, ‘Go, go, go.’ Everyone has a role to play. Everyone is doing something trying to save that patient’s life.”

Reflecting on her time at UMSL, Nwokoji’s takeaway from her experience at UMSL is one of responsibility.

“Taking charge and taking accountability for what you set your mind to and achieving that goal,” she said. “Once you set your mind on something, and you work hard for it, you can achieve it.”

Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd