With a desire to help people, Otisha Burton chose to pursue a nursing degree

Otisha Burton


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a junior non-traditional student from Stamps, Arkansas. I am a woman of God and an optimist, which I believe plays a major role in my academic success. Even as a child, when I was asked what I wanted to be, my response would be “doctor/lawyer.”

What inspired you to major in nursing?

I have always had a helpful spirit and loved school. As a kid I was overly optimistic by wanting to be a doctor and lawyer, but as time passed, I learned my character, morals, and values. My mom worked as a CNA (nursing assistant) during my childhood, so I went to work with her occasionally and got to interact with some of her patients. Also, when my grandmother’s cancer diagnosis worsened, I took care of her and tried to comfort her. After she died, I knew I always had a desire to help people, and although I went back and forth between nursing and physical therapy, I ultimately chose nursing because of the impact I could have on my patients.

Why did you choose Henderson to pursue your degree?

One of my grandmothers lived in Arkadelphia when I was a child, and she would always bring me to the bridge over the highway and I absolutely loved when she did. When I was in high school, I participated in FCCLA, and every year I did competitions. Our first round would be in Hope, and our second round would be in Arkadelphia at Henderson. Even as a high schooler on Henderson’s campus, it felt like home. I initially chose another university because I wanted to be close to home, but I did not feel like I belonged there. Even before I applied to Henderson, I felt like I was meant to be here. I am thankful every day to be here because I have had so many new opportunities and met so many amazing people. It feels like family here. For me, this really is the school with a heart.

What has been your favorite class so far, and why?

So far, my favorite class has been Nursing as a Profession. It was a prerequisite for the nursing program, but it helped me to realize that nursing is where I needed to be. It helped to explore the field of nursing more in-depth, and learn about the code of ethics and character of a good nurse.

Which professors have had a significant impact on your college experience?

Dr. Shelton, Mrs. Clayton, Mrs. Malcom, Dr. Sabaj, and Dr. Lock have all had a significant impact on my nursing studies and college experience. Dr. Shelton and Dr. Sabaj both encouraged me from the very beginning. Dr. Lock is also my McNair mentor and she challenges me to further my research in nursing and encourages me to use my research for graduate school. Mrs. Malcolm and Mrs. Clayton have been there for emotional support and guidance during hard times I experienced during my first semester of nursing school. Each of these professors have seen some part of my character or my potential and planted seeds of inspiration, perseverance, and excellence in me. I tell my friends and family constantly that I am so glad I chose this nursing program because the faculty and staff are absolutely amazing and caring.

Are you involved in any clubs, organizations, or extracurricular activities on campus? If so, please list them and briefly explain how they have enhanced your college experience.

In the nursing program, we are required to be members of SNA (Student Nursing Association) and I am thankful for this organization. We have a mentor who is a student of the senior nursing class that checks on us and is there to help and encourage us throughout the year. I am also a McNair Scholar, and this program requires you to conduct scholarly research on a topic of your choice related to your major in order to prepare you for graduate school. This has broadened my horizons on graduate school options as well as conducting research experience and presenting research projects.

What advice would you give to incoming students to make the most of their experience at Henderson?

You’re an adult now. Being an adult comes with lots of responsibility. Enjoy the college experience, but always remember that you are here to get your degree. There is always time to have a good time, but once your good times begin to affect your grades, your scholarships, student aid and grants are affected as well. Never be too prideful or afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are plenty of resources available, and everyone on campus is willing to help you in any way possible.

Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started college?

I wish I would have known the importance of communication and how to communicate effectively.

What are your career aspirations or plans after graduation?

I am one of those people who doesn’t plan too far ahead. Since I have been to clinical at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, I am really interested in working there after I graduate. My aspiration is to become a travel nurse once I meet the qualifications.

Please share something about yourself that would surprise most people, including your friends.

I am a very passionate person, and something that amazes people is my ability to be an inspiration and motivator, even when I am experiencing adversities. Some people are surprised by my ministering ability and passion about God, even though I am not big on public speaking and have never ministered before.

If you could have lunch with any historical figure, who would it be? And why?

If I could have lunch with any historical figure, it would be Jesus. Someone with a heart like my own, but better, and someone full of spiritual wisdom and knowledge. He is the true definition of love without ever saying I love you.