When this year’s Minority Nurse Scholarship winner Amazing-Grace Ighedo thought about nursing as a career, she didn’t think she could do it. As a child in Nigeria, Ighedo had to decide on a schooling track – science or art – in her teens. Between the two, Ighedo thought her grasp of sciences wasn’t good enough to pursue, so she took the alternate route offered.
“I wanted to be a lawyer and went the arts route,” she says. “And I thought I didn’t have the brains for the sciences.”
Thankfully, Ighedo’s drive and opportunities have changed her path. Ighedo will graduate in December from Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is is hoping to begin the Baylor nurse residency program in January. Eventually, she would like to enter the field of nurse anesthesiology.
Her road wasn’t always so clear. But when Ighedo was 16 and in college, she was involved in a car accident that changed her perspective. “It was horrible,” she says. “I was carted to a clinic – it wasn’t even a hospital. But the nurses there took such good care of me. I thought, ‘I wish I could be a nurse. I wish I could help people like this,’” she says. “That desire was sown in me.”
Even though nursing intrigued her, with few science classes under her belt, Ighedo thought it was too late to take on a new education path. “It’s hard to come back,” she says. Ighedo says going back to take all those foundation classes before she could go on to college was daunting.
Ighedo didn’t continue on a path to be a lawyer and she switched her major to French. After graduation she worked for a corporation as an executive secretary, but it wasn’t the right fit for her. “It just wasn’t enough,” she says. When Ighedo moved to the United States in 2009 to join her husband who was here, new opportunities opened up.
“My husband said, ‘You know you wanted to be a nurse. You can do anything you want here,’” Ighedo says. “So I started at a community college and I enjoyed it. I really, really loved it.”
Ighedo, who still thought she had shaky science skills, blossomed. “It was a leap of faith,” she says. “I really wanted to be a nurse, and I can’t be a nurse if I don’t take these classes, if I don’t start.” Once she started, she put everything into her studies. The payoff has been evident, and she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average.
“I just love the diversity and meeting different people,” she says about nursing. “I love the communication and connecting with people. You can make an impact, and I love that I can make that positive impact on people’s lives.”
As a nurse anesthesiologist, she says the connection she feels will be even stronger. “You connect with patients on a different level.” she says. “You have that patient’s life in your hands, and you have to be diligent and be dedicated. You have to connect with that patient. You’re serving that patient in a very different way than a floor nurse will.”
And when this busy mom of three found out she won the Minority Nurse scholarship, she was stunned. “I opened it and just started jumping up and down,” she says, laughing. “It feels great.” And while the road hasn’t been easy, Ighedo says she keeps her eye on her goal. “I have a very supportive husband,” she says. “And we know you always have to sacrifice for something that is worth sacrificing for. This is just for now. My husband tells me, ‘This is a bus stop.’ I just keep at it.”
And her career choice finally feels right. “You can never get bored with it,” she says. “There is so much to nursing.”