Graduate pens heartfelt letter recounting the triumphs and struggles of her nursing education

May 29, 2020 

The message below was written by Meg Carden, a member of the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing Class of 2020, and a recipient of the Gladys Kiniery Clinical Excellence Award. Dean Lorna Finnegan was so deeply touched by this message that she wanted to share it with you. 

Dr. Finnegan and the entire Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing:

I hope this email finds you well! Yesterday afternoon I was greeted with the most unexpected yet pleasant surprise in the form of a package at my door. When I opened it up and found a beautiful maroon stethoscope with my initials engraved on it, I completely lost it. There are no adequate words to express my thanks to you and the entire Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing - for the beautiful gift and recognition in the Gladys Kiniery Clinical Excellence Award. But also, for the education that has made me into the person I am today and the nurse I will be in the future. 

I would like to share with you that although my college career took off just 7.4 miles away from my childhood home, the transition was anything but seamless. For that first year, I cried every day. I felt like everyone had their lives figured out and all I had was a mere dream to help people. Yes, a great dream but when people ask you what you want to do with your life, and you say “help people” they usually laugh in your face. But as I immersed myself more deeply into nursing school, it became evident that all the wonderful professors and colleagues I had the opportunity to cross paths with shared the same desire. And as the classes ramped up and the simulations started, I began to realize that Loyola - and more specifically the Niehoff School of Nursing - has a way of showing even those that feel they belong nowhere, that they actually have a role and a purpose and an ability to enact change everywhere. I finally found where I was supposed to be. 

My Jesuit education was expensive. But the things it taught me are invaluable. Like how to see a person rather than a diagnosis and treat them as such. To not only be a woman for others but also one with them. One who is willing to stand with those on the margins, work to break down barriers, to fight on behalf of those who cannot for themselves, and to talk more. Because in making advocacy the core of our work, we will save lives - often the lives of the people the rest of the world has forgotten about. My Jesuit education afforded me the opportunity to help bring life into the world and hold hands and aid in transitions when it was time for people to leave it. And it taught me to remember their names. 

I wish I knew then what I know now. I couldn’t possibly understand why my parents would make me stay when I was so lost. But today, I know why. They made me stay because THEY knew I could. They knew I could get something - many things - out of this experience that I will spend the rest of my life trying to emulate and repay. And they knew that this education would make ME know I that could, too. 

I used to cry to be here. Today, I cry to leave here. But I am ready. In a world with too many broken pieces and not nearly enough glue, a nurse gets to be the hands that hold and the voice that soothes and the quiet presence that - in someone's darkest moments - might just be the only proof they need to believe it can get better. Because of you all, I am ready to make it better. 

There are no adequate words to express my gratitude. I am so humbled by this entire experience. 

Ramblers forever, 

Meg Carden, Class of 2020