Leesa Sterner, a graduate of UCC’s nursing program, tells her story. “From a very early age, I wanted to pursue nursing. Several relatives worked as nurses, which gave me early exposure to the occupation.”
Originally interested in becoming a veterinarian, Leesa opted to pursue nursing instead after realizing the extensive schooling required. She found that UCC’s program was locally accessible, offered a valuable degree, and a chance to give back to the community.
Leesa recalls how the nursing program forced her to grow. “Back then, I was incredibly shy and riddled with anxiety over my grades and the pressure of passing classes. I distinctly remember feeling terrible after failing a particular course, which led to a one-year delay in my graduation.”
Looking back, Leesa reflects on the many struggles she overcame and the challenges that made her stronger and more self-assured. She believes that nursing also equipped her with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to manage difficult situations in everyday life.
“If I had the opportunity to speak with my younger self, I would emphasize that success is not only measured by grades but rather by the ability to provide compassionate patient care and support,” she said. “Ultimately, the worries and anxieties I faced are long gone. Enjoy the moment and don’t worry about what happens next. It always works out in the end.”
Leesa believes that becoming a nurse inadvertently made her a better mother while becoming a mother made her a better nurse.
After graduation, Leesa was hired by Mercy Medical Center to work in the Intensive Care Ward before being reassigned to other units across the hospital. Here, Leesa gained experience dealing with a variety of patients. “Eventually, I began working with nursing students who were interning at the hospital,” she said. “This unique position helped me discover a love for teaching.”
Leesa decided to apply for a part-time nursing instructor position at UCC. “I work full-time at Mercy,” she said, “and part-time at UCC.”
With her newly found love for teaching, Leesa has decided to further her higher education in hopes of becoming a full-time nursing instructor. “I never would have guessed that I’d be interested in teaching, nor did I expect to find myself back at UCC. Being at UCC has once again opened a new world of possibilities for me. My journey has gone full circle.”
Leesa says that teaching at UCC made her realize that “the key competencies that UCC instilled in me are the exact skills I’m using and teaching, and they make me proud of the nurse I’ve become.”
In the end, Leesa finds fulfillment in giving back to the community as both a nurse and a nursing instructor. By working for Mercy and teaching at UCC, she can contribute to the healthcare field while simultaneously helping shape the next generation.