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Tips For Nursing Students From Mykyla Coleman

Mykyla Coleman from The University of Memphis shares tips for nursing students

Researching tips for nursing students online will lead you to articles that say follow nursing exam study guides, study everyday even for a short period of time, form study groups, know your learning style, take breaks, and other generic advice. But for nursing student, Mykyla Coleman, getting into nursing school isn’t just about getting job security. She believes that being passionate about your chosen field, especially when it’s healthcare-related is one of the secrets to staying in the course.

How Being A Gymnast Led To A Career Path in Nursing

Mykyla Coleman is a senior nursing student from The University of Memphis. Nursing might have not been her first career choice but it’s definitely something she’s learned to be passionate about and has even found a love for the career. She tells on the Student Influencers Podcast that she was trained in gymnastics for 10 years which made her initially want to study physical therapy. Mykyla has shared that being a competitive gymnast over the years took a toll on her physically, garnering a few injuries that would often lead to physical therapy. All her time in the hospital is actually what made her realize that nursing could be in the future for her. She even recalls nurses letting her come up on the floor with them in order to see what they do. She says, “that’s where my love and passion for nursing started.” Now, she is able to share her tips for nursing students.

Mykyla Coleman smiling as a proud student of The University of Memphis

Student Life at The University of Memphis

Keeping a healthy student-life balance involves being a part of extracurricular activities and Mykyla is no stranger to this. The University of Memphis hosts an extended orientation program for freshmen students called the frosh camp which Mykyla recalls fondly. Incoming students are broken down into “cabin families” to foster community-building. It also allows students to get to know other freshmen, make new friends, and find student-leaders that they can look up to. This is also a way for the university to introduce its traditions and connect freshmen with available resources and programs on campus.

The four-day overnight frosh camp is, as Mykyla calls, an “even better than adult summer camp” experience. Students get to join breakout, diversity, and leadership sessions. While there is no cell reception available, Mykyla recalls fun activities such as movie nights and game nights. The camp also highlights really important skill-building activities where leadership roles within student government are introduced to freshmen as well as breaking down Greek-life culture.

The Importance of Community for College Students

The camp initiative is really beneficial to freshmen who come from other states in the country, or like Mykyla who is originally from Nashville, students who aren’t from the city. This allows them a space to get to know each other before classes start. That’s 30 new people you get to meet from your cabin alone, which includes cabin counselors and student leaders besides other freshmen. Freshmen can often deal with homesickness and having to adjust to a new environment. Mykyla shares that the first six weeks for freshmen are crucial. This is when students tend to drop out so the university creates engagement plans to help freshmen stay connected. A sense of community, Mykyla highlights, is important for student-longevity.

According to her, “if you don’t feel connected to a community or like someone cares about you or that you’re a part of this larger body, you’re more likely to leave or to withdraw because you don’t feel like you’re a part of something.” This important note not only applies to those looking for tips for nursing students, but is important for all students to know. Being a part of a community empowers you and is beneficial in long term success within your chosen career path.

Mykyla Coleman in her blue scrubs with a stethoscope

Mykyla On Being A First Generation College Student

Mykyla is not just a simple nursing student. She eventually became camp counselor and eventually the camp director as well. Mykyla recalls that the camp counselors during her freshman year were some of the most pivotal people in her life as a first-generation college student. Being exposed to student leaders during her time at camp molded and shaped Mykyla into wanting to be that beacon of support for future incoming students and their families who needed help in transitioning to college life. She truly exuded leadership with a service-based heart very early on which makes her such a great student example and a perfect candidate for working in health care. Something we can take away from Mykyla’s experience is learning how to give back and finding the joy in helping others.

Mykyla Coleman  in Tennessee giving greek life advice

Greek Life

Mykyla showcases many impressive qualities as a model-student. For one, she is chapter president of her sorority. She’s also a first-generation student ambassador working with the alumni association and is part of the scholarship program. She is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a predominantly African-American organization, as well as a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.

Being a part of Greek life is valuable, especially for a service-based career path such as nursing because it exposes you to like-minded individuals. Despite being from different backgrounds, Mykyla says this is an important factor in order to grow your leadership style. The training and conferences are important for personal professional development. Joining Greek life extends a student’s network and allows them to connect with a larger group of people that could potentially lead them closer to their dream job. Not only that, Greek life provides you with a group of brothers and sisters who are there to support you.

Greek life for Mykyla is far from what popular media portrays as “ritualistic” and involving hazing and just partying. Greek life for her is actually more philanthropic and service-based. It’s about creating bonds with people and having a common mission. An addition to her tips for nursing students here is to lean on the surrounding community within your campus because support from others is important. Also, Mykyla sets a great example for other students and provides comfort in the knowledge that taking on a major such as nursing does not take away from other areas in your life like having a social life. There is space for other goals if model students like her are able to thrive in leadership roles as well as excelling in academics.

Mykyla Coleman smiling as she provides advice to students on overcoming burnout

Dealing With Burnout As A Nursing Student

Between extracurricular activities and focusing on academics, burnout is something that Mykyla has also experienced. While she would love to spend time hanging out with friends, she often disclaims that her major entails her to spend a lot of time either in class or in the hospital learning. Another thing on her tips for nursing students is having an organized schedule. Mykyla says whether it’s simply having some me-time like going to the gym, it is penciled in her schedule. Being organized and sticking to a schedule reminds her to also make time for herself which is so important if you want to stay sane in such a busy, fast-paced major such as nursing. There is definitely a fine line between making time for everything and overworking yourself which she experienced. She recalls having moments when putting on her scrubs in the morning has brought on tears because she’s felt overworked. Nursing is a very “different degree” that entails even more hours studying outside of lectures. Being involved in extracurriculars allowed Mykyla to stay “grounded” as she is not just a nursing student. The advice is to keep an outlet outside of school to stay sane.

Keeping parameters for yourself is important according to Mykyla. She says that as someone with Type A personality. It’s important to have boundaries that allow her to still do acts of self-care and be productive all within the confines of a 24-hour day.

Mykyla Coleman says nursing is a different world and poses in her blue scrubs

Nursing Is A Different World

In nursing school, professionalism is instilled from day 1. Being on time means being fifteen minutes early. Coming in on the dot if your call time is 7:00 AM means you’re late. Staying pristine is part of the lifestyle. That means pressed scrubs, neatly styled hair, no nail polish and accessories. According to Mykyla, her university instills in them very early to embody professionalism because the students represent the school.

There is a system in place that allows nurses to operate in such an organized manner and it all starts with themselves. Being in the medical field, time-sensitivity and accuracy is a matter of life and death. There is no room for playing around when it’s the lives and health of others that is at stake. This is another important tip that she can share. Practicing professionalism, even just as a student, builds that habit that you can surely take with you and apply once you become a registered nurse.

Nursing Is Not Something You Love Everyday

You may have heard of the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” but it might not always be the case for all professions.

Something that is very important on her tips for nursing students is finding time for self care. After all, you can’t provide health services for others if you are not well yourself. Finding time to do hobbies that you enjoy cultivates a healthy environment within yourself that can translate in the way you are able to take care of other people. Mykyla’s advice for days when things just don’t seem to go right is to find at least one positive. Whether it’s as simple as acknowledging that you woke up that morning, or that you had a great lunch, or got to talk to a friend. This exercise is perfect to reroute your brain into focusing less on negativity.

Mykyla might not always be in love with the thought of nursing everyday, but by taking care of herself and exercising positivity, she will for sure get her job done correctly even on hard days.

Overcoming Hardships

A challenge Mykyla recalls having to overcome in college is “growing pains”. Mykyla shares on the podcast, “Not all paths are straight and narrow. There are hills. There are real, real valleys that are awful and have the [sic] thorns. But you grow from those things. So I wish that, you know, I would have just believed in myself a little bit more and just had the confidence that, like, I could do it. I think that’s been the biggest life lesson now for me that I’m 21. I’m about to graduate. Believe in yourself.” This falls not just on her tips for nursing students but applies to anyone experiencing challenges in life. After all, we all go through something we deem challenging more than just once in our lives. And it definitely never gets easier. Going easy on ourselves is important when everything around us feels hard.

According to Mykyla, college is an “ever-changing” situation that she didn’t always have an easy time with. She also recalls one of her biggest challenges was allowing herself and giving space for feeling upset or frustrated, which are perfectly normal feelings. There are plenty of things that are out of our control. The more we try to gain power over these things, the more we’ll feel like we’re spiraling out of control which is ultimately counterproductive. Mykyla advises to keep space to let yourself be imperfect.

Mykyla Coleman shares her experience in nursing school during a pandemic

Nursing School During A Pandemic

Going through nursing school and finding out that she would be graduating in the middle of a pandemic was something that was initially challenging for Mykyla. Everyone who was either a student or teacher during the pandemic were all navigating new waters when it came to resuming school. Mykyla experienced both in-person and online classes. Lectures were done via Zoom but a portion of the clinical aspects of learning were done in the hospital.

Being a nursing student during a pandemic also entailed a lot of self study or studying in small groups. Mykyla also recalls doing simulations and having smaller in-person lab classes consisting of only 3 to 4 students.

The ability to be adaptable during unprecedented times and challenging situations is one of the great tips for nursing students that Mykyla exhibits. It is an imperative trait that is needed in a profession such as nursing where the work environment is ever-shifting and just as unpredictable.

Following Your Passion

An important piece of advice Mykyla left the listeners of The Homework Help Show Students Influencer Podcast is to find what you’re passionate about when pursuing your education. Making sure that you’re following a career path that you want to is important because life is short. People and things that are meant for you will find you when you align yourself with your true passion and purpose. Down the line, life might not look like what you envisioned. But if you follow your passion, you might just find something even more satisfying.

Mykyla Coleman happily sharing advice to nursing students

A Recap of Mykyla’s Tips for Nursing Students and More

Shadowing Medical Professionals

Mykyla advises students who are considering a career in nursing is to shadow and observe professionals in that field. A great way to get insight is learning firsthand from either asking your primary care physician questions or learning from friends and family members who are in that field. Shadowing other professionals in the medical field and seeing how they enjoy their jobs will give you a peek into what it would be like when you’re in their position. If people you know don’t like what they’re doing then there’s a possibility that you might not enjoy it either.

Do Your Research

Mykyla recalls meeting nursing majors who still have no idea what nurses do because they haven’t looked into or researched it. It is very important to ask yourself why you want to pursue a career in nursing and make sure it’s not just for reasons like “job security”. According to Mykyla, you won’t be able to stay long in this career if you’re not passionate about it. Remembering that being a nurse entails having people’s lives in your hands is key. Nursing is definitely not something that is to be taken lightly.

Practice Professionalism

It’s important to always treat people with respect. An addition to Mykyla’s tips for nursing students on professionalism is writing thank you notes for anyone who’s interviewed her or worked with her. She recommends to anyone to revive acknowledging appreciation because it’s rarely done these days. This also sets you apart from other students in the best way.

Be Appreciative and Remember Why You Got Into Nursing

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of things in life that won’t always go the way we want. This is especially true in the medical field because for one, surgery is always unexpected. People, especially children can get sick really quickly. This career path can sometimes be disappointing, sad, and frustrating. On the bad days, it’s important to remind yourself why you’re here and why you’re doing this in the first place. Pulling yourself up from discouragement will help immensely in such a fast-paced and unpredictable work environment.

Learn How To Manage Your Time

We established that the medical field entails time-sensitivity. Mykyla’s personal hack in staying on top of her game is using Google Calendar. She plans out the semester as soon as the university releases her class schedule. She jots down all important dates like when her assignments are due, when exams are, or when she has a presentation. Setting reminders for yourself, Mykyla says, allows her to stay organized.

Make Time For Yourself

Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of others. One of Mykyla’s other talents besides being a dedicated nursing student and student-leader is calligraphy. She apparently enjoys it as it allows her to move slower and helps in grounding. Whenever she allotts time for self-care activities, she is just as dedicated as if it were any of her professional tasks. Meaning if it’s her time, there’s absolutely no distracting her.

Listen in to Mykyla’s Full Interview on The Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast

Hear from Mykyla Coleman herself her tips for nursing students and be inspired by her stories on being a first-generation college student, overcoming adversities, and more.

Episode 21 of The Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast is available on, or your other preferred streaming platforms such as, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Breaker, and Overcast. You could also watch the episode on our YouTube channel.

And if you’re like Mykyla who has experienced burnout in school, check out our blog for more advice on how to handle burnout syndrome in college.


Mykyla [00:00:02] It’s OK to be different, you know? Remember that. It’s OK to be different. You- just because you choose to not party or to hang out. That’s OK. That’s me. And it’s perfectly fine. I turned out OK.

Lesley [00:00:17] Welcome back to The Homework Help Show Student Influencers podcast. I’m your host, Lesley. And today I’m with Mykyla Coleman. So welcome Mykyla. How are you today?

Mykyla [00:00:27] I’m good. How are you?

Lesley [00:00:28] Good. We like to start with a few kind of get to know you questions. So why don’t you go ahead and tell us where you were born and raised.

Mykyla [00:00:37] So I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.

Lesley [00:00:41] Awesome. And where are you currently living?

Mykyla [00:00:44] I currently live in Memphis, Tennessee. This is where I go to school.

Lesley [00:00:48] And that’s- what university is that?

Mykyla [00:00:51] The University of Memphis.

Lesley [00:00:53] And what are you studying and what year are you in?

Mykyla [00:00:57] I am a senior nursing major here at the U of M, so I’m getting ready to wrap up my degree.

Lesley [00:01:03] Awesome. That’s super exciting. And what are you up to right now?

Mykyla [00:01:07] So right now I’m starting back school. So this is going into my second week of school. So just getting back into lectures and being online and figuring out the clinicals and everything like that. That’s what I’ve been up to.

Lesley [00:01:19] Perfect. So what kind of made you decide to pursue nursing as your career? Is it something that you were always interested in or did it kind of come to you a little later on?

Mykyla [00:01:30] So surprisingly, nursing was not always what I wanted to do. I actually wanted to be a physical therapist. It took me getting an internship my senior year of high school to even be exposed to the world of nursing. I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years, so I’d always had different injuries and I spent a lot of time in physical therapy. So I thought, oh, well, you know, I would be really good at this. I’m here all the time. But it took me getting that internship at the hospital to really notice, hey, like maybe nursing is for me and the nurses allowed me to come up on the floor with them and really see what they do. And that’s where my love and my passion for nursing started.

Lesley [00:02:05] So it was really more of like a practical- like, you experienced doing something that you really want to do and then kind of build. That’s perfect. I feel like that’s a really big deal in the nursing field because it’s such a hands on job and it’s very much like you can learn as much as you want from a textbook or in a class, but once you get there and you actually start to experience it, I feel like it’s a completely different ballgame.

Mykyla [00:02:30] It is completely different even now being in nursing school or just learning, you know, the very basic information and seeing what it looks like in a real patient. They’re two completely different things. How you handle yourself is so different and everyone deals with things differently. So you have to treat each patient very individually.

Lesley [00:02:48] Yeah, definitely. So what are kind of your career goals with nursing? Like, I know last time we talked, we were talking about how you were born as a premature baby and that really got you motivated to kind of work in the NICU or in women’s health. Is that kind of your end goal with nursing?

Mykyla [00:03:10] So definitely somewhere in the realms of pediatrics and women’s health, I’m- I’m still leaving that, you know, open for decision because I’m- I don’t graduate until May. And so I’m really trying to get my feet wet and really see what I like. So I’m currently in the NICU. I’m doing an internship at a hospital for women. And that has been an amazing experience and really has shown me that pediatrics is definitely the way that I want to go. I’ve also worked at Vanderbilt Children’s as a care partner, and so I’ve got to see all of the acute care side of pediatrics. So definitely going the direction of pediatrics. So I plan to sit for the NCLEX at the end of the spring semester to become a licensed registered nurse. And then I’m also planning to pursue my nurse practitioner degree following that degree.

Lesley [00:03:52] So would that be- Would that be extra schooling or is that more of like- like a practical program?

Mykyla [00:04:00] So it’s both. So there is that educational piece as well as the clinical piece. So you’re in the classroom still learning just as an advanced practice nurse. And then you will also do the clinical portion as well to get that hands on experience as a provider.

Lesley [00:04:15] OK. Sounds like- that sounds like a lot of extra work. I guess you have to be really dedicated to that field to kind of to go through all of that. Right.

Mykyla [00:04:25] So I could definitely say so. Nursing is not for the weak of heart or the weak minded for- like, it’s it’s a serious commitment. Your life changes because of it. The way you think about things is completely different. I’m mentoring some pre-nursing students right now and they just started nursing school. So this is their first full week and they’re going into week two. And they’re like, Mykyla, like, I don’t think the way that nurses think, and it’s because they don’t know the language. Nursing is a completely different language and it’s something that you have to really learn and be able to build on before you’re able to even go down that route of, you know, being a nurse and being an advanced practice nurse.

Lesley [00:05:01] And I feel like all of that- all of that learning the language and all of that kind of stuff is something that you, again, have to learn in the practical environment and a hands on environment. Not necessarily studying about it.

Mykyla [00:05:14] Yes, for sure. The studying, it gives you the knowledge, but until you’ve seen it, laid hands on it, done it yourself, it’s going to be a whole different level of understanding because with nursing, it’s very much so. If you haven’t seen it in real life, it almost doesn’t seem real to you. It’s like, oh, well, I read that in a textbook. I studied that for a couple of hours. But until you’re like, oh, that’s actually what it looks like. It’s nothing like that.

Lesley [00:05:36] Yeah, exactly. So you mentor nursing students. What tips or advice would you give to a student who might be considering a field in- are considering a career in nursing or maybe wants to enter the nursing field?

Mykyla [00:05:52] Yeah, definitely. I would say start thinking about it early. So I think it definitely starts, you know, in the lower levels of, you know, high school of hey, like, what do I think I want to do? You know, once when I’m older, what do I want to do long term? You know, what type of field do I want to go into? And if you know that it’s something healthcare, I always tell people to get into that setting. Shadow. Observe. Talk to your own primary care physicians. Or if you know nurse practitioners or your own doctors or if it’s your family member, get in with them and really see what they do for a living and see how they, like it. Quality satisfaction with your job is so important. If they don’t like it, you might not like it either. You want to know why they don’t like it. You know, you want to know what the hours look like. What do they actually do with their patients? It’s doing your research on the profession that you want to pursue. So if it’s nursing, for example, look at what nurses do. I meet a lot of students who are like, oh, I’m a nursing major. And then they can’t tell me what nurses actually do because they haven’t looked it up. And so it’s like, are you sure you want to be a nurse or are you doing it for other reasons? And then they’re like, well, you know, job security. Job security is never a reason to go into anything health care related, because if you don’t love it and you’re not passionate about it, you’re not gonna stay. And remember that you have people’s lives in your hands. So start doing your research early, get into different shadowing experiences, even if you’re just talking to doctors, nurses. Those conversations can steer into different opportunities. You never know. That could be like, hey, if you’re interested, you can always come and shadow me for a day. You never know, like, what doors could be open. But that would be my advice to start thinking about it early. Don’t wait to the last minute if you can. Obviously, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So going into the actual facilities may not be, as, you know, feasible, but definitely having a conversation is always good.

Lesley [00:07:41] Yeah, definitely. It seems like networking is a really kind of important thing in that field, especially.

Mykyla [00:07:48] For sure. You never know who holds the next opportunity for you. You never know who’s gonna sit on that interview panel when you come in. So you always want to treat people with respect. I always write thank you notes to anyone that I’ve ever worked with, interviewed me just thanking them for their time. That’s like a professionalism tip that I tell all the people that I mentor. Always write a thank you note because people don’t do that anymore. And so when people receive them, they’re like, wow, they really took the time out to make sure that I felt appreciated. I would just recommend that to anybody.

Lesley [00:08:18] That’s definitely something that would make you stand out for sure. Especially since no one really does that anymore. That’s- that’s a really good idea. I also really like the point that you just said about job security shouldn’t be a reason to choose a career path. And I think that’s actually really important because, like, especially in today’s day and age, like, job security isn’t really a thing anymore.

Mykyla [00:08:46] Yeah.

Lesley [00:08:47] Especially as we’ve learned through this pandemic. Job security is not really a thing anymore. And I think that the reasons that you look for a career, a fulfilling career, should be more than just well, I’ll always have a job. It should just be like, I’m passionate about this or I’m really good at this. And then the job security can just be like a bonus.

Mykyla [00:09:10] Yes, I definitely think so, because if you hate your job every single day, you’re like, oh, man, I don’t want to get up and I don’t want to go. What’s the purpose in that? Your life is too short. You need to enjoy every experience that you can have. If you want to touch patients’ lives and, you know, impact their families, do that. But if that’s not what you want to do, it’s OK. Find something else that you’re passionate about.

Lesley [00:09:32] Yeah, because you’re gonna be working this job for the rest of your life.

Mykyla [00:09:37] Yeah.

Lesley [00:09:38] If it’s something that you’re not passionate about, especially with nursing when I feel like you kind of have to be passionate about it to enjoy it because like, I could never be a nurse.

Mykyla [00:09:47] Yeah, it’s a whole different level of stress and anxiety, knowing that you have someone else’s life in your hands and that- that family is looking at you to make all the right decisions and to take care of their child. And you’re just, you know, doing everything that the doctors and the other nurses and nurse practitioners, you all are on the same page and you’re doing the best you can. You have to love it, because in those moments of stress and you know, your patient’s not doing very well, you’ve got two other patients to attend to. You really have to prioritize what’s important and why you’re here. And I think that I’m not a nurse yet, but just working with nurses every single day. You have to hold on to the good days because you’re going to have a lot of bad days just because things don’t always go the way that you expect. Surgeries don’t go as planned. Kids get really sick really fast. And so you really have to be appreciative and realize why you got into this field in the first place.

Lesley [00:10:38] Yeah, definitely. That’s a really good point, because not every- not every case scenario is going to turn out where, all right, you’re healthy, you’re recovered. Have a good life. Like it, it doesn’t- unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like that. And you definitely can’t have a weak stomach for that kind of stuff.

Mykyla [00:10:56] Yeah.

Lesley [00:10:59] So, you’re kind of involved in frosh camp at your university. Can you kind of tell us what that is and what that experience is like?

Mykyla [00:11:11] Definitely. So frosh camp is an extended orientation program that we do here at the University of Memphis and we target the freshman student population. So freshman here means the first time coming to college. Traditional student. So you just graduated high school. Now you’re moving to college. And so what frosh camp does is we take all of those incoming students and we break them down into cabin families so that they can start creating community and making friends and finding like-minded people and finding student leaders to look up to. So it’s really just building community, teaching them about the tradition of our university and getting them plugged in and connecting with different resources and programs on campus.

Lesley [00:11:50] So you lead them kind of through different activities. Like to get to know the camp, like the campus and stuff like that.

Mykyla [00:11:58] Yes. So every single day is set up differently. Frosh camp is typically a four day overnight experience. We take the students off campus to a camp site called Mikami, and they’re in cabins. Like, it’s a real deal setup out there literally in the middle of nowhere. You don’t have cell phone service. It’s just us and the kids and the councellors and the staff. We do different breakout sessions, diversity session, leadership session, campus resources, housing, all of that stuff. We give them a really large overview. We go- we break down Greek life and involvement in, you know, different leadership roles and opportunities and what we do as student leaders on campus. So we give them an array of different things. We hang out, we have some fun. We watch movies, game nights. It’s a whole camp experience.

Lesley [00:12:44] So basically, like adult summer camp.

Mykyla [00:12:47] Definitely. Sometimes even better than adult summer camp.

Lesley [00:12:50] Nice. I think that sounds super fun. I think every school should do that. My school didn’t. My school just had like a week about- everyone does organized games for like five hours a day.

Mykyla [00:13:00] Yeah. No, this is like totally separate, just the freshman class. They get to know each other. And especially it’s really helpful for the out-of-state students who are coming in and don’t know anyone. So I’m not from out of state, but I’m not from the city where I go to school. So it was really nice to be able to meet other people. And you already have friends before you start college because frosh camp happens before the first day of classes. So it’s an over the summer type thing so you already go in knowing at least 30 other people from your cabin and, you know, your cabin counselors, their student leaders, if you get lost, don’t know where something is. We’re all there ready to pitch in to help.

Lesley [00:13:34] I feel like that’s super helpful for all those out of town students because it helps them kind of get to know the city that they’re moving to. And it helps them kind of- what- I think it probably would help with er- not homelessness, homesickness as well, because they’re at least they’re becoming more familiar with their environment and they’re not going into their first week of school in a completely new place with a new routine without- like, at least they have people there. They know where they are. They know how to get around, and they have some people that are familiar to them.

Mykyla [00:14:09] Yeah. And we capitalize on the opportunity and the statistics. So within the first six weeks, the rate for first year students to drop out is significantly high. So that’s why we try to capitalize on that first six weeks. We do an engagement plan with them. So after we get back from camp, we go to different on campus events with them. We show them different places. We do different things with them so that they feel connected to the university. So we always stay connected students feel committed and won’t leave. Because if you don’t feel connected to a community or like someone cares about you or that you’re a part of this larger body, you’re more likely to leave or to withdraw because you don’t feel like you’re a part of something. So we really try to get them really acquainted in that first six weeks so that they don’t want to transfer. They don’t want to go home. And we try to get away from the homesickness so that there’s like a clear distinction of it’s OK. You all are all new together and we’re here helping you make that transition together.

Lesley [00:15:07] Yeah, that’s definitely something to keep in mind, too, like that sense of community is a really big thing for just not feeling alone in that at a time. Like- like I said before, when you’re like in a new city. You just don’t want to be alone.

Mykyla [00:15:23] Yeah. That’s the worst fear is oh, my gosh. I’m gonna get lost. I don’t know where to go. No one’s going to help me. That’s what- where we step in is to make sure that you don’t feel like that.

Lesley [00:15:32] Yeah. So that’s obviously like a voluntary experience that the students sign up for.

Mykyla [00:15:39] Yes. Some scholarship programs here require it. So we do something called emerging leaders, social change scholars. They require those experiences because it bonds them as a group early on. But it’s totally open to all students. And it’s not a required thing by any means.

Lesley [00:15:55] But it’s definitely something that you recommend anyone to do.

Mykyla [00:15:58] Oh, yes. And everyone who goes to the University of Memphis will tell you that frosh camp was the place to be when they were first a first year student, because you can’t go after you’re not a freshman anymore.

Lesley [00:16:09] Right.

Mykyla [00:16:10] It’s specifically tailored to them. And if you didn’t go, people wish they did. And so that’s like usually some of the biggest regrets is I didn’t go to frosh camp because they didn’t come in with those solid group of friends. And like, I’ve been a counselor for two years and I was a director this year. So I’ve had two sets of campers and all of them are still best friends. They hang out. They’re gonna be like in each other’s weddings type friends, just lifelong friends that you never knew that you needed.

Lesley [00:16:36] Mm hmm. What kind of made you want to get involved in being a leader in- in the frosh camp?

Mykyla [00:16:43] So definitely my frosh camp counselors, when I came in, they were definitely pivotal people in my life because I am a first generation college student. So that means, for those who don’t know, is the first person in your family to go to college and go on to graduate. So I didn’t really have a whole lot of understanding about what college entailed. I just knew, well, you graduate, you go to college. There was kind of no other option for me. So I knew when I got here, man, I don’t know anybody. What am I supposed to do? I’m not from this city. And then frosh camp happened, and it brought me my first set of student leaders that were really able to help mold me and shape me. And I wanted to be able to turn that around and do that to the following classes to really be there to support them and their families in that transition. And so- and it was one of the programs that has made the biggest impact on me because we bring in three hundred students each camp. So, you know, impacting almost a thousand people in a summer is unmatched. It’s an unmatched experience knowing how much you can change a student’s life and their perspective of college because you don’t know where they’re coming from. You don’t know what type of lifestyle or home life that they’re coming from. So to know that you can be a light in their life and really lead them down a whole nother path that they didn’t even know was in front of them is super rewarding. And I’m just so glad I’ve been able to be a part of it.

Lesley [00:18:02] Yes, so it definitely really helps you come full circle and give back.

Mykyla [00:18:06] Yeah.

Lesley [00:18:06] From that experience that obviously helped shape your university life.

Mykyla [00:18:11] Sure. I definitely agree. I feel like if you’re in these roles and you’re in these positions, you have to turn it around and give it back to the upcoming generation because if you don’t turn it around and lead with a service based heart, what’s the point? What is the point of all of these leadership roles if we’re not doing it for the students?

Lesley [00:18:30] Yeah, that makes so much sense to me. So, are there other extracurriculars or activities like that that you’re involved with at university?
Mykyla [00:18:42] Definitely. So I’m super involved. If you follow my social media, we can talk handles later. You will see. So I am a NICU intern like I was talking about. So I work in the neonatal intensive care unit. So that’s one part. And then I am chapter president of my sorority on campus. So that’s a whole different ballgame. And I’m sure we’ll talk about Greek life later. And then being a first generation ambassador, I’m a part of a scholarship program. There’s just- I’ve been a student ambassador working with the alumni association. I’ve done a little bit of everything. And then as well as frosh camp and other student leadership positions on campus.

Lesley [00:19:20] Right. So, yeah. So Greek life, obviously, you’re very busy.

Mykyla [00:19:26] Yes.

Lesley [00:19:28] The Greek life, like- so sororities and fraternities just to get into that, since you- since you mentioned it, that’s an experience that is kind of centered in the United States. Like we don’t- in Canada we don’t- we do have sororities and fraternities, but it’s definitely not as like- it’s definitely not as…

Mykyla [00:19:49] Prominent?

Lesley [00:19:49] Yeah. As prominent as the United States. And same with a lot of other countries. So do you want to kind of explain what that experience is like to an outsider?

Mykyla [00:19:58] For sure. So Greek life is definitely something that you don’t have to know about before you get to college, and Greek life is not for everyone. So let’s preface with that.

Lesley [00:20:07] Right.

Mykyla [00:20:08] It’s a very different, you know, environment and situation. So the difference between sororities and fraternities, sororities are for women and fraternities are for men. And so just across the board, there’s multiple different councils. So for me personally, I’m a part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which is predominantly African-American organizations, fraternities and sororities. And I’m a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. So I’m a delta on campus. And that looks very different from another council that is Panhellenic. Panhellenic, which is predominately white female organizations. So it definitely depends on what council, you know, you choose and you know, what the mission and what the philanthropy is, what the goal of that organization is. So all fraternities and sororities have a philanthropy, different places that they serve consistently or charities that they work with or groups of people that they like to serve with. So every organization is different. I always tell students if you’re interested in Greek life and then they’re like, well, why would I be interested in Greek life? Well, there’s a lot of different reasons. So, one, you find community among men and women who have very like minded scenarios as you who maybe come from the same or different background from you wanting to grow in your leadership style. Hey, like, who am I and how do I fit into this big picture? If you’re interested in service learning and being around people who like to serve and who are part of the same major as you, that’s fine, too. There’s so much professional development because you go to trainings and conferences and it extends your network, and like we were talking about earlier, because you have that larger body of people that you will always be a part of because you become initiated into these organizations. You have access to these people who maybe have the job that you want to have. And now, since you all have the same letters, you all can have that type of conversation because you have that thing in common. And then always having people to turn to because you will always have those brothers or those sisters that are in your corner rooting you on, supporting you. So for new students who are coming that maybe don’t have as many friends or don’t know anyone, Greek life is also a great way to get involved just outside of, you know, being involved on campus because you have like minded individuals. That’s kind of what Greek life entails. It’s larger organizations that have different chapters on your university’s campus. And then you all are brothers and sisters. You all have different philanthropies, different people that you serve and different things like that.

Lesley [00:22:30] Yeah, that’s interesting because- so is it- one thing I’ve learned from talking to students from the US about sororities and fraternities is that it’s very much- it’s a lot more philanthropy and community oriented than you would think. Well, especially since, like for us, our- ah- what- what we know about Greek life is from what we see in, like dumb movies, where there- everyone’s just like going through these weird, ridiculous, like rituals or like initiations to get it into these. And then it’s just like partying. And I know it’s obviously not like that in real life.

Mykyla [00:23:12] Yeah.

Lesley [00:23:13] But I kind of never really realized that there was such a big philanthropic aspect to it.

Mykyla [00:23:19] Definitely. And it’s something that, like you won’t know until you’re inside of it or know people who are a part of it. Now, obviously, organizations have their ritualistic things. Obviously, social media and movies portray it on like a whole another level because a lot of those things are sacred to those organizations so how would you even know what they were or weren’t doing? But yeah, definitely we are all very service and philanthropy based. And, you know, the mission that we all have is different and, you know, the groups of people that we want to serve. And why we do what we do is very different. But it’s not for everybody. You know, some people are like, hey, I’m going to be a lone wolf. I don’t need to be a part of this larger body, which is fine. You know, just because you’re Greek doesn’t mean that you still don’t associate with people who aren’t Greek. So it’s just a very different experience.

Lesley [00:24:03] Is it kind of… Like how do you go about joining?

Mykyla [00:24:07] So every council is different. So National Panhellenic Council, we do not recruit, but Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council, they do. So that’s predominantly why organizations go through a recruitment period. Ours is actually about to start kicking up here in the next couple of weeks on campus. And so, typically in a non-pandemic situation, the women would visit the different houses or meet with the different organizations on campus and really get to know them, facilitate those conversations and really see what’s a good fit. Obviously, I’m not a Panhellenic woman, but I just have a general idea because I work with students. And then it goes down into like a selection process. So ranking and then it has to be a mutual selection process of, you know, did they feel like you were a good fit or did it just not go well at all? And then you kind of basically get it down into a bid day or bid night where you are trying to figure out where you’re going to run home to. So that’s how it’s just a process of elimination, mutual selection. Do you want them? Do they want you? OK. You both want each other. It was a great fit. Awesome. And then, you know, you all find out together on the last day what organization you got a bid from and then you run home to your new organization. So that’s probably what people have seen on Instagram. I ran home to whatever the name of the organization is and people are probably like, what does that even mean? It just is- it’s the end of the recruitment period process. And then they go into their new member selection process where they’re learning that information about those organizations, you know, becoming closer with, you know, the girls or the guys in those organizations and just really creating that bond.

Lesley [00:25:43] Right. Makes sense. So no weird secret hazing rituals.

Mykyla [00:25:50] I’m not condoning hazing for any organization on this campus. But I will allow everyone to speak for themselves. All organizations that I know of are not hazing- not a part of how any of that works. Obviously movies make it out to be something completely different. But I would just definitely say that, you know, know your rules, know why you’re joining. You know, know the character of the men or the women, and you know, if something’s going on, speak up and say something.

Lesley [00:26:17] Right. And definitely- so definitely try to find, if you’re interested in joining a sorority or fraternity, try to find the one that’s a good fit for you.

Mykyla [00:26:30] Definitely. Don’t join, oh, well, I’m gonna join this one because this is where all my friends went. Don’t do that.

Lesley [00:26:35] Right.

Mykyla [00:26:36] You and your friends may not have the same core values. At the end of the day, you all may not have the same service learning ideas. You might just want to be your own person and follow your heart to where you feel like that’s going to best suit you. Do that. That’s why during- this is just a little extra thing. But during frosh camp, all of the counselors, we disassociate from our organizations, we’re not allowed to wear letters or anything. So like me, like I have a pop socket on the back of my phone that has my letters on it. This will have to come off because we don’t want students to know what organizations we’re a part of so that they don’t pick those organizations based off of, oh, well, I saw that so-and-so was in this organization and I really like her so I’m going to join that one.

Lesley [00:27:16] Right.

Mykyla [00:27:16] You want to give them the ability to freely choose. Hey, I mean, I think I’m interested in this one. I’m going to go and get to know them instead of seeing us and oh, these are the student leaders on campus. They’re a part of it. I have to be a part of it. We want to give them the freedom to make their own choices.

Lesley [00:27:31] Yeah, I feel like that’s probably really important, especially when they’re coming. They need to keep their own independence and make decisions that work for them. And university is really a time where you learn who you really are and what works for you personally.

Mykyla [00:27:47] Definitely.

Lesley [00:27:47] Though, piggybacking on like, oh, that sounds good. I’m going to do that. It’s probably not.

Mykyla [00:27:53] No, it’s not the best. And most people won’t stay because it wasn’t for them in the first place. They did it because oh, well, my roommate did it or oh, my friend did it. Only do it because you want to and you don’t just have to go Greek, you know, as a freshman, you can go for it at any point in your college career. So I know a lot of students won’t go Greek that first year so they can see what the sororities and fraternities look like on campus, what they do on campus, how they treat people, and then they’ll rush the next year. So it’s very flexible. It’s what you feel like you want to do.

Lesley [00:28:24] Interesting. OK, that’s cool. So that’s obviously- all of this- all of these extracurriculars are obviously super time consuming.

Mykyla [00:28:35] Definitely.

Lesley [00:28:35] And you’re in nursing, which is also a time consuming. So how do you kind of manage your time and balance all of those things? Like it sounds really like it can be really stressful.

Mykyla [00:28:48] Oh, yes. So I get this question so often because people are like, weren’t you just over here and now you’re in clinical and now you’re doing this? And so I use Google Calendar and it’s a blessing. So basically, I will plan out at the beginning of the semester. I’m not sure how other universities do it, but we get most of the class schedules early and or on the first day of class. I take that first day and I put every single date on my calendar, due dates, when projects are due. Exams, major papers that are due. Or, hey, you’ve got this presentation that’s gonna be due in six weeks. But here’s your three week reminder. And I set reminders for myself. So it will send me a text message to my phone. It will ding my watch. I get an email about it so that I’m consistently reminded throughout the week what I have going on. So I use Google calendar and then for any other major things I have a power list, that’s kind of like a newer term. And so I split things up. So if it’s involvement based, it’s on one color Post-it note. If it’s school related, it’s on another. And then if it’s outside of both those things on another. And so each week I have to take one to two things off of each list and put it on my master list, which is on my phone. And that’s how I make sure that I’m getting everything done because all the lists coincide together. So I know, OK, when I look at my phone, my Google calendar is set for the day. I know when I’m supposed to be where, it gives me an hour notification hey, you have clinical at this location. I’ll put the addresses and everything so I can never say I didn’t know. So hey, you have clinical at 9:00 a.m. at this hospital. OK, great. Notify me an hour in advance. It’s going to hit me again in 30 minutes. Hey, remember you have clinical in 30 minutes. Just in case I was doing something, got caught up somewhere, and then it’s going to tell me, hey, remember, it’s noon, eat lunch. All those basic things to make sure I’m taking care of myself. Hey, remember, it’s two o’clock. You’re gonna go to the gym and meet so-and-so.

Lesley [00:30:46] Mm hmm.

Mykyla [00:30:47] So I really have to plan it to a T. And a lot of people don’t understand that. That’s not their personality. I’m very organized. I have to be to be able to do all of these different things. And for my own peace of mind, so I don’t have to wake up and make the schedule. It’s made in advance.

Lesley [00:31:03] Yeah. So you- you also add in like anything you do for, like, your personal, like, self care and all that kind of stuff. You add that-.

Mykyla [00:31:11] It’s on the schedule.

Lesley [00:31:11] In the schedule as well.

Mykyla [00:31:13] Yeah. If it’s not on the schedule, it’s not going to happen. So even like hanging out with people because I am in such a strenuous major, I tell people that on the front end. Hey, it’s not that I don’t wanna hang out with you. It’s not that I don’t love you as a person. I just- I’m in a very difficult major that requires me to be in the hospital and in class for a ridiculous amount of time because I have to sit for boards at the end of this year that require a certain amount of hours. And so this is what the schedule looks like. And so if it’s hanging out or going to the gym or having just peace and quiet to myself, it’s on schedule. Because I know with how busy and how fast paced my life is, if I don’t insert it into the schedule, it’s not going to happen and then I forget about myself. And then we’re nine weeks down the line, I’m crying. Mental breakdown. All of those things.

Lesley [00:31:58] Exactly. That’s an easy- a really easy way to put yourself into into student burnout mode and just get overwhelmed with everything is if you don’t- if you’re so focused on just like this is what I have to do, this is what I have to do. And you don’t add that whole self care element into that, that’s a very downward spiral that you can end up on.

Mykyla [00:32:18] Oh, yeah. And I have- I have been there. I have been there. And it is the worst feeling. You literally cannot physically get up out of the bed to do anything. The thought of having to put scrubs on and leave my house could bring you to tears because you just have overworked yourself. And I had to learn that my first year in nursing school that, listen, you’re in a very different degree. You can’t just go, go, go like everyone else anymore. This- this information takes hours to understand and hours of time put in, you know, behind closed doors, outside of lecture, because for our courses, if you’re taking one nursing course, you’re studying nine to 12 hours outside of class. Just for that one class and sometimes- some semesters we’re taking six to seven classes at a time. So think about how many hours that adds up to just related to your major. But I’ve chosen to be involved outside of school because I’m not just a student at the end of the day. I’m a very multi-dimensional human being. And that’s what keeps me grounded. Being able to hey, like if I want to go and hang out with my mentees, let’s do that. Hey, if I want to go and work out, I can still go and do that, too, instead of just being so wrapped up in school. Because if you don’t have an outlet outside of school, you’re going to go crazy.

Lesley [00:33:30] Mm hmm. Definitely. Like you ever- everyone is- like, students are- every student is a human being that needs a little bit of everything. So you need to be a yes, obviously, you need to be focused on your work and getting your grade, getting your grades up. But you also really need to focus on the humanity aspect.

Mykyla [00:33:51] Definitely.

Lesley [00:33:52] Like, what do I need to be in a good place?

Mykyla [00:33:56] Definitely. And I think people forget that so easily because you’re so focused on well, I have this deadline and three days. OK, but there’s 24 hours in a day. Can you take 20 minutes and eat lunch and not speak to anyone and not do any work? I have to catch myself doing that sometimes. So when I’m working, if- if you send me an email at 4:59, I’m sorry, that’s it. I can’t respond until the next day. I have to set boundaries for myself because I know I will work and I will work and I will work and not allow myself to- I’m going to eat dinner and I’m not going to talk to anyone. I’m going to watch Netflix and eat dinner. And that’s it for the night. So really having to place parameters around yourself, especially if you have a type A personality like me, we need that structure even to allow for us to not be structured if that makes sense. So I definitely I’ve planned it in there. So that’s like the type A, but then it’s like you’re going to yoga or you’re, you know, taking a bath or using bath bombs or just sitting on the couch watching Netflix. It allows you to have it for yourself.

Lesley [00:34:55] Exactly. And it’s important. And you’re almost kind of like forcing yourself, like, here, do something for you.

Mykyla [00:35:02] Yeah. Every day. That’s- that’s what I tell people.

Lesley [00:35:05] Yeah. And like, even the way that you have it set up with like where you’re constantly getting setting notifications to yourself and reminding yourself like, hey, go do this no matter what it is, I think that’s a really important way of holding yourself accountable. So, like, you’re- you’re setting it up so that you do not have any excuses to miss a deadline or to miss a meeting or not be where you’re supposed to be because you’ve set it up for yourself. And I think that’s a really good way to kind of make sure that you’re moving in a successful direction.

Mykyla [00:35:40] Yeah. In our school, I think this is most nursing schools because nursing is just such- it’s such a different world. We are professionals from day one, and they instill that in you. Fifteen minutes early, that’s on time. If you show up at seven a.m., you’re late like point blank period. You fail the class for that day. Like, our school does not play with us. They treat us to be adults and to be professional, and the second that professionalism is not seen they will let you know because they’re sending you out into the world representing their university. You all need to look pristine. So that’s the same reason why with our scrubs, they have to be pressed, hair back. You can’t have flyways all over the place. No nail polish, no rings. Like it’s a very, like, pristine look and that really just starts to boil over into the rest of your life. That requires you to be organized, and to be on time. If you meet a nursing student that’s late, it’s probably like the worst day of their life because we’re always on time for everything. It just teaches you to be that way because that’s what you have to do in your everyday life. And it just starts to boil over into other areas of your life. So it definitely- nursing is definitely, like I said, it’s not for the weak of heart. But it definitely teaches you a lot about how to be professional and how to, you know, organize your time and to time manage. Because if you want to, you know, be in nursing and you want to do these study hours, but you have to be human first. So allowing yourself that time and space to do that.

Lesley [00:37:03] Yeah, that makes sense, too, because like as a nurse, every every part of your shift is like, OK, this person needs this at this certain time. Like, sick people need medication at certain times of the day. People need this. Like you have a very structured shift a lot of the time. So that’s basically setting yourself up for the way that your entire position will be.

Mykyla [00:37:28] Definitely. For sure.

Lesley [00:37:30] And like I remember, I was in the hospital for like 10 days last year. And I remember even too, because I- there was one point where they had to give me antibiotics at- it was like six a- seven a.m., three p.m. and 10 p.m. every day. And they were- and the nurses were there every single day at those exact times. And I was like, man, like how do they always remember that like I need this at this time and they’re always here. And like I was, like, blew my mind. And I know there’s probably like a system in place to track all that, but I was just like, wow.

Mykyla [00:38:04] Yeah. No, it’s- it’s serious. And the hospitals are very serious about those times because we want you to get better.

Lesley [00:38:11] Right.

Mykyla [00:38:11] And you’d rather be on top of your medication than be behind and your patient’s hurting and they’re yelling at you because they’re hurting. So it’s a whole system in place. And that’s why we have to be so time oriented, because, you know, those are, for some people, maybe lifesaving measures that it’s not like we’re giving you antibiotics. It’s you’re getting blood at this time, this time, and this time. And we have to be there to make sure that everything is going smoothly. So it’s- it definitely sets you up for the larger picture.

Lesley [00:38:38] Yeah, definitely. So how do you- what do you kind of like to do- what are your kind of go to things that you like to do for yourself? Like to distress or to for self care?

Mykyla [00:38:51] So most recently it’s working out and I really like biking. So getting on the bike, I’ll either throw a podcast on or throw some music on and jam out and no one else is in the gym. It’s just me. And it’s- it just allows me to be free in that moment and usually like I’ll work out for forty five minutes to an hour, three to four times a week, just because that’s my like set aside time. If I say I’m going to the gym, don’t call me, don’t e-mail me, like this is me time. I’m a journaller because I can write in calligraphy. It’s this type of cursive and so I’m really, really good at that. And it allows you to slow down because with the strokes of the pen, you have to be moving so slowly for it to be perfect. And that just like brings you down. Especially if I had a really up day and I’ve been running around all over the place in and out of the car. I need to just sit down and then I’m a coffee drinker. I don’t know about you, but I’m a coffee drinker. So just even in the morning, I’ll get up 30 minutes earlier, just so I can sit on the couch and drink my coffee and be in silence because my life is so noisy, because I’m always around patients or other students or on, you know, Zoom calls for class with 175 people. The peace and quiet is so nice and you come to respect it and to love it so much. So that, just hanging out with my friends, my sorority sisters, just allowing myself to be social because I’m still super social, regardless of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. I might just be going to lunch with one other person. But yeah, I just do what I want to hang out with my family, you know, when I can, you know, travel back home or they come to see me. Being outside. I’m an outside- I’m an outdoorsy type person. Even if it’s just going for a walk, just allowing myself to be on my own or with other people. That’s kind of what I really like to do to de-stress or just watching YouTube. I’m a big YouTube fanatic.

Lesley [00:40:41] Nice. Yeah, definitely. Because, I mean, self care and distressing kind of looks different for every student. So it’s kind of interesting sometimes to hear like what other people do. Like I, I mean, I like I am a big coffee drinker too, but I don’t always like, give myself time to just like sit and enjoy my coffee because I’m like, oh, I need to do this. Oh, I forgot about this. I’m always like running around with it. But.

Mykyla [00:41:07] Yeah.

Lesley [00:41:08] For a lot of other people having that coffee or that tea or whatever it is and just sitting there, that’s like a really good morning ritual.

Mykyla [00:41:16] Oh yeah. For sure. And it’s it’s a part of the day. Like until I’ve had my coffee, don’t speak to me.

Lesley [00:41:21] Don’t talk to me.

Mykyla [00:41:22] I can’t. Like, if you need me to do something that’s fine, but like I need to get coffee first. And then the other thing is I’m involved in counseling so my school does free counseling for students who are involved- I think we’re- you have to be enrolled in at least six credit hours, which is a part time student, full time is twelve hours and you get free sessions.

Lesley [00:41:42] OK, that’s nice.

Mykyla [00:41:43] So I’ve been with my same counselor for two years now. She’s great. She’s a part of my family. She knows everything about me. And even if there’s nothing wrong, I still have that outlet to go to. So I’ll meet with her, you know, once a week, every two weeks, depending on what’s going on. When exam season comes around, I meet with her once, if not twice a week, just to de-stress about the day. You know, because she’s an unbiased person. She doesn’t- she doesn’t see everything that I’m seeing. She’s hearing it from my perspective. And so she’s not here to be judgmental. She allows me to grow from these different things. And because not all the times you want to bother your friends or your family with your own problems.

Lesley [00:42:21] Right. Yeah, that’s- I think that’s a really good resource that the schools- for a school to provide. Just to have an objective, neutral party there to just talk to.

Mykyla [00:42:31] Yeah.

Lesley [00:42:31] That isn’t going to judge you.

Mykyla [00:42:35] And we have this thing, it’s called like. Yeah. And we have this thing called the relaxation zone. It’s in one of the buildings on campus and you go in, you sign in and they have all of these different relaxation techniques. There’s people in there. You get on this computer and you take a quiz and it writes how stressed out you are and where you are that day. There’s massage chairs you can get in for free. There sand that you can like, if you feel the tension in your arms, you can play with the sand or play with clay. Or you can color. You can draw. You can talk to people. Meditation. Like, it’s a whole- it’s a whole building. So our school takes that, like, very seriously. You don’t have to have an appointment. I would- I would get out of anatomy and I would walk to the relaxation zone and get in the massage chair and sit for an hour. And that would just be how it works.

Lesley [00:43:22] That’s interesting.

Mykyla [00:43:23] Yeah. I wish more people had something like that.

Lesley [00:43:26] Yeah, I think every school should have some. Like, I know there’s a lot of schools that do the whole like they bring in like puppies during exam. Or dogs.

Mykyla [00:43:35] Yeah, we do that too.

Lesley [00:43:35] But like, an actual like room that’s just always there where you can go whenever.

Mykyla [00:43:41] Yeah.

Lesley [00:43:41] That’s a great idea.

Mykyla [00:43:42] Yeah. Super nice. Super nice.

Lesley [00:43:45] More schools should definitely do that. What are some of the things that like the kind of like life lessons that you learned from going transitioning from high school to university from one environment to the other?

Mykyla [00:44:00] I would definitely say I was not always as confident as I am in myself now. So I used to be just super hard on myself all the time. I think that’s just that, like, perfectionist type attitude in me. And I think for me, like, it was just learning to believe in myself. That was it seems like the easiest thing. But it’s also the hardest thing. And just knowing, like Mykyla, like you can do this, don’t count yourself out yet. And I you- so when I was in high school as a sophomore, I got a concussion in a cheer accident. And I was out of school for four months and it took me that long to get caught back up with my classmates. I couldn’t go to school with everyone else. I couldn’t stay up. I will never underestimate concussions again because it almost made me graduate late and I ended up pursuing, you know, tutoring outside of school. That’s what my mom was willing to pay for. And I got caught up with my class and I graduated on time and still with a pretty decent GPA. And I think that really just showed me, like, if you want something, you can go get it. And then, you know, me coming here and being first gen and not really knowing what college entailed, but knowing Mykyla, if you want something, go find it. Go find your resources. Go find people who can help you. And just learning, like if you want something, you can go get it if you’re willing to work for it. I don’t think that dreams happen unless you work hard for them. I don’t think that anything should just be handed to you because you don’t appreciate it as much.

Lesley [00:45:24] Yeah.

Mykyla [00:45:25] So, like, oh now I can look back and say that I struggled to get there. Wow, I worked hard to get there and I’m so thankful to have it now. That’s the same thing with nursing. Do- do I love it every day? No, but I know where I’m trying to get to, you know, on this path. And not all paths are straight and narrow. There are hills. There are real, real valleys that are awful and have the thorns. But you grow from those things. So I wish that, you know, I would have just believed in myself a little bit more and just had the confidence that, like, I could do it. I think that’s been the biggest life lesson now for me that I’m 21. I’m about to graduate. Believe in yourself.

Lesley [00:46:02] Right. Yeah, that’s it’s definitely a lot harder. Like, you can’t just, like, wake up one day and be like, I need to believe in myself. Like, it’s a very big- it’s a complicated- it’s more complicated than people would make it out to be because it’s very much a mindset that you have to put yourself into and you have to do it to make yourself believe it over time. Like, it doesn’t just like-.

Mykyla [00:46:30] It doesn’t just happen.

Lesley [00:46:32] No. Definitely.

Mykyla [00:46:32] And it’s a consistency thing and it’s a mindset thing. And, you know, that’s what I’ve definitely been teaching a lot of my mentees. OK. What are you doing? Why are you- why are you speaking to yourself like this? You know, we need to find a positive in each day. I mean, I was just telling my sister that the other day. I’m like, OK, if all of these negative things are happening to you, you can pick out one positive of that day. And if the one positive is that you woke up that morning or your lunch was great or you got to talk to a friend, let that be that. But don’t always focus so much on the negatives because that really changes your mindset and how you view things.

Lesley [00:47:06] Right. Like look for like even the little wins, like on even on every- even on your worst of days, there’s always gonna be like one not so bad thing.

Mykyla [00:47:17] Yeah.

Lesley [00:47:18] One little win, even if it’s just like, all right. I got myself out of bed today.

Mykyla [00:47:21] Yeah.

Lesley [00:47:22] That’s a win.

Mykyla [00:47:23] Yeah. I put clothes on today. I ate breakfast today. Like this is a win. Like the small things.

Lesley [00:47:28] Yeah. That’s one thing that I learned recently. And I was like, that’s a really good way of thinking of things. And just like thinking of, like, that- that was a win today.

Mykyla [00:47:36] Yeah.

Lesley [00:47:38] And if you can go each day and think of one win you had, then you’re doing better than you think you are.

Mykyla [00:47:46] Yeah.

Lesley [00:47:48] Were there any other kind of challenges or struggles that you faced in university so far?

Mykyla [00:47:55] Probably just- the growing pains is what I call them, is I don’t do very well with change and college is definitely a ever-changing situation. Your friend groups, the types of classes that you’re taking, life in general, family things, friend things. And for me, it just is- I like a set of structure in my life. And then when things are just not going the way that I feel like they should be, I get very discouraged very easily. And this is still something that I’m working on right now. It’s such a challenge for me to get out of my own way or to not focus on the things that I can’t control. And, you know, there are certain things like the pandemic. No one can control what it has done to our lives and the way that it looks and how my graduation is going to look different. I’m going to be a different nurse because I’m going to graduate in the middle of a pandemic. No one can fix those things, but it’s how we’re responding to those things. And so now I’m trying to be more mindful of if I catch myself going down a negative path or like, oh, my gosh, this is so bad, or just finding myself in a negative attitude, I usually have to just take a second. Look. We need to turn this around because your mindset and how you speak, what you speak really does matter. If you’re speaking negativity into the world, it’s going to be negative because that’s the only thing you’re feeding yourself. And so I just try to be very in touch with how I’m feeling, which is why I have to journal. I have to know what I’m feeling. I call it checking in. OK, I need to check in. Like, I feel the stress on my shoulders. Time out. Let me go and grab my journal. I found. How am I feeling? Why am I frustrated? Why am I upset? And I think that that was the biggest challenge is I wasn’t giving myself that space to feel that way. I thought I always have to be perfect. I always have to have the grades and be on top of my stuff. And it may look like that on the outside, but if people opened up the door and saw I was running around and I didn’t eat lunch or I forgot about an assignment, oh my gosh, I forgot I was supposed to do an interview like… People don’t realize what actually goes on behind closed doors until you tell them and then that’s why I’m super transparent on my social media, super transparent. Like you ask me anything, I will give you the honest opinion, not what nurse Mykyla soon to be would say. It’s this is where I am, like, hey, like it happens and it’s going to be OK. Like, let me just tell you, from being there in that low place, it’s going to be OK. And so I think just the challenge of like moving through everyday life and allowing yourself to not be perfect. I think that is the biggest challenge. But I think that a lot of different people experience that.

Lesley [00:50:34] Yeah, definitely. And like you said, you never really know what- what’s going on behind the scenes with people and people who look like they have all of their life together probably still have some stuff going on behind the scenes. And, like, being transparent and open with yourself and checking in with yourself helps you be more transparent and open with other people.

Mykyla [00:50:56] Definitely.

Lesley [00:50:58] So I think that’s a really good value to have, especially, like you said, if you’re going to be transparent and open on social media and then someone might see that and be like, you know what, that sounds like what I’m going through.

Mykyla [00:51:10] Yeah.

Lesley [00:51:11] Maybe this will help me and then you could help so many more people.

Mykyla [00:51:15] Yeah. It creates a sense of community because it makes people take you off this pedestal. I have to talk to, like, students on campus all the time. And they’re like, oh my gosh. Like like it’s okay. Like I’m the same as you. I’m a student just like you are. You don’t have to treat me one way or the other because of whatever position I may be in. I’m still human, just like you. And I still mess up and I still struggle just like you do. But it’s all in how you see it. Like if you allow people to place you on those pedestals, yeah, they’re going to treat you differently. But if you’re transparent and you’re like, nope, we’re the same. I still struggle just like you do. People approach you differently. And I think that that’s why, like, my community on my social media has grown so much over time just because I am so transparent, like, hey, guys, I really thought I was gonna drop out of nursing school today because I, I, I’ve just felt like I couldn’t do it. I feel like I wasn’t smart enough. And people are like, oh my gosh, that’s me. Like I genuinely felt like I was not smart enough to do this. And now I’m a semester away from graduating. So it’s like being transparent with other people, like you said, allows them to be transparent with themselves.

Lesley [00:52:15] Right. And the higher up on a pedestal you put yourself, the easier it is to build up this ego that is so fragile and so easily damaged. Like one little negative thing and everything just comes crashing down.

Mykyla [00:52:29] Oh, for sure.

Lesley [00:52:29] Very vulnerable position to put yourself into.

Mykyla [00:52:32] Yeah. No, I, you know, I would like to think that I’m very humble. My mom says that I am. I don’t- the accolades. Do they mean something? Maybe they look really nice on paper. But I’m like, if people don’t like me as a person genuinely or feel like I have a service minded heart and attitude, what’s the point? Like, and that’s the same thing with why I mentor pre nursing students because I needed someone. I don’t charge them. I don’t make them do anything for me. It’s genuinely because I want to help this next group of people. I don’t want them to think that, oh, Mykyla has made it and she’s not willing to help anyone else. That’s not the case at all. Like I literally live and breathe nursing, pre nursing, professionalism, resumes, cover letters because I want that next generation to have what I didn’t have.

Lesley [00:53:16] And you’re paying it forward.

Mykyla [00:53:17] Yeah, for sure.

Lesley [00:53:19] On a more on a more- like, on a flip side, what is one of your favorite memories so far in university?

Mykyla [00:53:30] Oh, wow. Honestly, probably joining my sorority. Just because I’m super independent. Like, I don’t need anything. And I have a sister, but she’s five years younger than me. So, like, our relationship is very different because she is younger than me. But to be surrounded by women who are not only African-American, who are strong women, who are, you know, in leadership roles and doing- just doing it and just doing everything that they put their mind to. It’s so nice to be surrounded by energy like that because it’s like you can always look to the next person to be like, oh, wow, like I really like what she’s doing, let me see how I can do that, but make it my own and to always have people rooting for you, because when you’re in a profession like this, it feels like you don’t get a thank you or congratulations. I see what you’re doing. I see the hard work that you’re putting in to always have, like my girls, like in my corner, like, hey, like I saw you. I know that you’re out here really working hard. It’s so nice to have that reassurance and to know that these girls are doing life with me forever. This isn’t just a college thing. We’re in this together for life. And to know that, like, my children will know my- you know, my sisters and, you know, we’ll always have this community. It’s just something that, like, brings a whole different level of joy into my life to have these women.

Lesley [00:54:42] Yeah. That sounds like a really, really valuable experience that. And I mean, any time you’re in a situation like that, you’re going to be making, like, lifelong memories. And so, yeah, that sounds really fun. One question that we really like to ask all of our interview guests, and I know we actually did kind of already talk about this a little bit as well. If you could go back and talk to your 15 year old self, what would you say? And I know you kind of already mentioned like what you would tell your high school self, but is there any other kind of advice you’d say to yourself?

Mykyla [00:55:18] Probably to stop caring what people think about you. Honestly. And like that’s like so cliche, but that’s something I’m still learning about right now, is I think if I was focused more on, like what I could do for my situation, instead of thinking, well, they’re going to think this about me or I’m not going to have friends because I’ve decided to do something different. It doesn’t matter. If that’s something that you’re passionate about and that you’re trying to pursue, do it for you. Because at the end of the day, like you have control over the things that you have control over. Do the things that makes you happy. And I wish I would have known that earlier that it doesn’t matter what people think about you. You know, people are going to make fun of you. People are gonna do what they want to do. You know, people can be cruel. But I feel like doors are open for you when they feel like, you know, when God feels like they need to be open for you. And, you know, He’s going to place where you feel like, you know, you need to be. And if, you know, for those of you who are in high school, if you are not having the best high school experience, it’s OK because you haven’t even tipped the domino to life yet. You don’t know anything yet. So just hold on, graduate, and then allow yourself to really see what else is out there, because if I only knew when I was 15 that I was going to be here now, you- I would have been like you’re lying. Like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. You are not telling me the truth right now. It’s so much bigger than high school. It really is. If you’re struggling and if, you know, you’re not as good of a student or you don’t have very many friends. I didn’t have very many friends. It’s OK. If you’re being bullied, hey, life goes on. And there are resources and there are people who love you. And there are people who care about you. And you have so much potential that you don’t even realize. You haven’t even unlocked it yet. So just be ready to tip that first domino after you graduate from high school.

Lesley [00:57:06] Yeah, I think that’s a really big thing with high school is that people are really mean in high school.

Mykyla [00:57:12] It’s the worst.

Lesley [00:57:13] And it is so hard not to worry about what other people think when you’re in high school. And like, that’s such a- when you’re in high school, your world is really small and you are so concerned with like, oh, I’m like, am I going to people that I think I’m cool, like… And that’s why- that’s why I always say, like, you don’t really discover who you are until you leave high school.

Mykyla [00:57:36] Yeah.

Lesley [00:57:37] Because in high school, a lot of people are just constantly just trying to survive.

Mykyla [00:57:42] Yeah. It’s survival of the fittest. And I feel like it just- it’s not a good representation of who you’re gonna be as an adult. You know, if you look back at those people who were bullies and they are completely different people now, or you look back at the people who were more quiet, there are those outspoken leaders now on their university and it’s like, wow, I never thought that they would turn out to be like that. Well, you never gave them the space to be who they actually wanted to be. So I just say allow yourself the space and the time, graduate with your degree, your diploma, GED, whatever you have to do to get to the next portion of your life.

Lesley [00:58:16] Exactly. Life kind of like begins after high school.

Mykyla [00:58:19] Yeah, for sure. Like this is all this is now. This is like the prologue. Let’s get to page one.

Lesley [00:58:24] Right. Exactly. I feel the same way. So right now you just started this semester, right?

Mykyla [00:58:34] Yes, I have.

Lesley [00:58:35] Like, you’re back in your program now?

Mykyla [00:58:37] Yes, we are.

Lesley [00:58:38] Because I know that with the COVID-19 pandemic, everything got all- everything is kind of all over the place right now. And I didn’t realize that some classes were already- had already started.

Mykyla [00:58:53] Yes.

Lesley [00:58:53] And you’re back to in person, right?

Mykyla [00:58:56] So we are like a combination of the two. So because I’m in nursing all of my lecture courses, didactic courses, what we call them, are online. So like our teachers come on Zoom, they teach us the lecture. They share their screen with their PowerPoint, saying, you know, different worksheets and stuff like that. But the clinical aspect, a portion of it still is at the hospital. But we’re also incorporating virtual simulations going to our actual nursing building and doing simulations, very small groups or like self study at home. But for everyone who’s not in nursing school, everyone is pretty much online. One hundred percent, unless you are a science major, that you require an in-person lab, but those class sizes are like three to four people. It’s nothing. So we’re online until further notice. Our university is supposed to reevaluate in September. You know, the possibility of coming back? I don’t really know what the possibility of that is because I go to such a large university with over twenty thousand undergraduate students. I’m not really sure what that’s going to look like.

Lesley [01:00:01] What kind of advice would you give on now that you’re on the heels of this. What kind of advice would you give to someone who is kind of coming off a really confusing and uncertain summer and now they’re starting university but it’s not quite the way they pictured?

Mykyla [01:00:18] Definitely, I would say get organized on the front end because it’s new to you. So if you start off on the right foot, you’re going to set yourself up to be in a better situation. So you never know. You may be online right now, you know, at your university or your college. They may transition to being in person. And then that’s- it’s like you already have a system going, you know, that you study for these classes on this day. You know, go ahead and send that, you know. Hello, my name is to your professors or your teachers just so that they have, you know, a name with a face and just do what you can to pace yourself because you know, you’re new at this. You’re not going to have all the answers. You’re not going to know everything and just give yourself grace because everyone’s new and everyone’s trying to figure this out. So just don’t expect to have all the answers when you first start.

Lesley [01:01:08] Well, that’s the thing, too. Like the professor- like, the schools, when everything- when the pandemic started, like schools weren’t really set up for this and everyone kind of just had to wing it and kind of figure out what worked as they went.

Mykyla [01:01:25] Yeah.

Lesley [01:01:25] So, like, everyone’s kind of in the same spot where everybody’s trying to adjust to this. So I definitely think that, like, there needs to be that understanding like, hey, you know what, everyone… No one really knows what they’re doing. Everyone’s trying their best.

Mykyla [01:01:42] Yeah. And I think that our teachers are making that very transparent. Zoom was down on Monday. And so we didn’t have a lecture because Zoom was down. So we’re just- they’re just trying to make all of these decisions and just hoping for the best at this point.

Lesley [01:01:57] Exactly. So I just have like one or two more fun final questions here. One thing we always do, too, is we get- we ask our influencers if you have a favorite motivational quote that you’d like to share.

Mykyla [01:02:13] So, yes. So I always tell people this and my mom told me this. It’s called the head down mentality. And I think that people get very caught up in what’s going on up here when the work is down here. You need to be head down. Tunnel vision focused on what it is that you’re trying to do and where you’re trying to go. That keeps you one out of a lot of trouble because you’re always reminded and you’re always focused on where you’re trying to go. But it also allows you the time to grind and get good at your craft and to study and to know what you want to do so that you can live the life that you want to live. So I would definitely say head down mentality has got me where I am today, not just, you know, and it’s OK to be different. You know, remember that. It’s OK to be different. You- just because you choose to not party or to hang out, that’s OK. That’s me. And it’s perfectly fine. I turned out OK. If, you know, that’s not you and that’s not your style, don’t feel forced to have to go anywhere with anybody, especially, you know, those new students who are coming to university. So very inclined to go and do. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go and do. I didn’t go and I didn’t do. And I’m OK.

Lesley [01:03:19] Right.

Mykyla [01:03:20] It’s okay. You know, don’t feel pressured to have to do, you know, what everyone else is doing. Be your own person. Head down mentality. Be your own person and don’t do what everyone else is doing.

Lesley [01:03:29] Yeah. Because that’s the thing. It’s like that whole concept of like peer pressure is actually really real in university. And like a lot of people don’t think that because it’s like, well, I’m not a vulnerable teenager anymore. But it’s like-.

Mykyla [01:03:42] You are.

Lesley [01:03:44] You still technically are. And it is a real thing.

Mykyla [01:03:48] You are a vulnerable young adult. That’s what you are.

Lesley [01:03:52] But just a little older now.

Mykyla [01:03:53] And I know it’s different. I have a very like I’m only twenty one, but I’m very mature. I personally, I don’t believe in peer pressure because I have a very strong mentality. But I get not everyone’s like that, not everyone can say no and not everyone has the ability to not be liked. It’s OK if I’m the only one that isn’t going. That’s fine. You guys can go. There’s no harm, no foul, because I know values are and what I’m willing and not willing to do. So don’t do anything that you feel uncomfortable with. You will still have friends regardless if if you choose to go or not go.

Lesley [01:04:24] Exactly. And if someone- if someone’s going to not- not be willing to be your friend because you didn’t do like this one or two things-.

Mykyla [01:04:30] You didn’t need them anyway.

Lesley [01:04:31] Exactly. Like they’re not worth your time. And they’re not really a real friend.

Mykyla [01:04:36] Yeah. Don’t do it.

Lesley [01:04:38] Yeah. Definitely. Our last kind of fun question is what is your favorite social media platform and why?

Mykyla [01:04:47] Instagram. Absolutely Instagram, because it allows you to be transparent and you can post and you have this ability to be a part of this large community of people, you know, who you can find them through hashtags and through their post and through locations and through their majors and degrees and just life goals and lifestyles. And it just brings people from all across the world together. So if you wanna follow me on Instagram, my handle is @Mykylacolemansn, you can follow me there, follow my journey, see what I’m doing. And you know, how- helping this next generation get to where they want to be. It’s just a super transparent social media platform.

Lesley [01:05:22] Yeah, we’ll definitely post the link to your page in the description, too, so that people can find you and follow you. And then obviously we’ll tag you in the content that we post too so people can go and check out your page.

Mykyla [01:05:36] Sounds good.

Lesley [01:05:37] Perfect. So just to wrap up, do you have any more kind of final insights you want to share before we kind of say goodbye?

Mykyla [01:05:45] Definitely. If you were pursuing education in any way, shape or form, find what you’re passionate about. If your parents are doctors or surgeons or whatever, don’t do that if that’s not what you want to do. Life is too short. Do what you want to do for you and pursue the lifestyle which you want to pursue. You know, you will find those friends. You will find your people. And even if it’s not, you know, the life that you thought. Do whatever it is you’re passionate about.

Lesley [01:06:10] Definitely. I think that’s super important and really good just general life advice.

Mykyla [01:06:16] Yes.

Lesley [01:06:18] Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate you taking the time out again too.

Mykyla [01:06:25] No problem. I hope that you guys were able to hear some different things and hear some different perspectives from someone who is first gen, who are not necessarily you know, I’m not in the business side of things. I’m in the healthcare side of things. So I hope that you guys are able to learn some things, pick up some things and just hear what real life is like as a nursing student.

Lesley [01:06:44] Yeah, definitely. Definitely some really good insight. So thank you for that. And we’ll keep you posted and we’ll check back in with you. We’ll keep in touch with you in the future to see where where you going.

Mykyla [01:06:54] All right. Sounds good.

Lesley [01:06:56] Perfect. Thank you.