Western Washington University Alumni Association

Alanna Steele

Major - Nursing
Hometown - Bellingham, WA

At first, I wasn't too crazy about working as a dining room server for a retirement home during my high school years. While working at that job, I grew fond of the residents and learned their ongoing stories. I shared my life with them too. After work hours, I helped the residents on my own time. That first serving job ignited my interest in nursing, taught me to extend myself and turned me into a lifetime volunteer. I earned my Certified Nursing Assistant credentials after high school and my associates degree in Nursing from Skagit Valley College, while working and volunteering. I'm excited to be taking the next step by attending Western's RN-to-BSN bridge program this fall in my own hometown.

I couldn't wait to thank the Alumni Association for this scholarship. It's a huge relief to have this help going into the RN-to-BSN nursing program at Western. This scholarship is instrumental to me in supporting my goals of becoming a traveling nurse and nurse educator. The funds make affording and attending college less stressful. I am extremely grateful for this scholarship.

The summer I graduated from high school, I completed a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class at a local technical college. Working as CNA was a wake-up call to the realities of the nursing profession. I bathed patients who didn't want to be bathed, fed people who would swat at me and cleaned feces off patients' bodies. I learned that I wasn't afraid to do this type of work. This job exceeded my original perceptions of the nursing profession in that the work was far more challenging than expected. I observed how co-workers were overwhelmed with caring for entire wings of high-need patients. I noticed that many of the CNAs did not have time to engage with patients. However, the rewards were far more abundant than expected. I felt that I was making a huge difference in the quality of care in the patients I served. Most of the patients were grateful that I genuinely connected with them, motivating me to continue providing compassionate care and pursuing a nursing career.

When you're a nursing student, there isn't much time for a social life. However, I fit trail running into my days. It relieves stress and keeps me fit. I also like the sense of community when I run with other local athletes. Post high school, I turned into a recreational runner. I qualified for the Boston Marathon by running a trail marathon and came in first for women at last year's Northwest Warrior Dash. I had no idea I had won until I came home and checked the results. The company sent me this ridiculously, sweet Viking helmet. I thought to myself, "I can wear that at Western!"





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Western Washington University
Alumni Association

516 High Street, MS 9199
Bellingham, WA 98225
360.650.3353 | alumni.wwu.edu
WWU is an equal opportunity institution.