By Matthew Salzano '18
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, WASH. (January 12, 2016)- Sylvia May ’18, a doctoral student at Pacific Lutheran University, was one of just eight students in the country to receive the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship in 2015. The prestigious scholarship will cover her tuition, books and other fees at PLU and she will also be provided with a monthly stipend for living expenses.
As a recipient of the scholarship, May will be commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the Nurse Corps and placed on inactive reserve status until the completion of her PLU degree. She is also required to attend a summer officer-training course in Alabama for six weeks. While on inactive reserve status, May will gain rank yearly and once complete with her schooling she will enter active duty as a captain.
May is a member of the first ever Doctor of Nursing Practice cohort at PLU and the scholarship will cover the final three years of her doctorate studies.
How did you choose PLU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program?
I chose the PLU DNP program because PLU has a reputation that precedes itself. As I discussed my plans of applying to PLU’s DNP program at work and at various functions, I was almost always given positive reviews regarding PLU and how great a university it was. The praises I kept hearing about PLU helped me to decide that PLU is where I wanted to be. I applied and was given an opportunity to dine at the PLU DNP table, of which I am so grateful for.
Why are you passionate about nursing?
My passion for nursing began in high school. I remember my business and commerce teacher asking the students in class where did we see ourselves in 10 years. I replied without reservation, “working as a nurse.” Though it sounds cliché, deep within I knew nursing was my calling. Nursing has given me a sense of inner peace and satisfaction that I do not believe I would have found in any other profession. Extending a helping hand to patients, families and communities during their low moments and seeing their full recovery is most rewarding and keeps me passionate about nursing.
What made you decide to apply for the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program?
After obtaining my BSN degree from Texas Tech University, I had two ultimate career goals: become a nurse practitioner and serve my country. I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. I heard about this scholarship, did some research and applied. I was convinced this scholarship would afford me the opportunity to reach both my aims at the same time.
What was that process like?
It was a yearlong process. It entailed three interviews, many essay-style questions, and the patience of Job! There was lots of waiting throughout the process. There were only eight scholarships being awarded in the nation for the 2015 fiscal year, but I did not care. I decided to take my chances, and by God’s grace, I was selected.
How did that process make you feel—that is, what did you personally, uniquely experience?
I felt this process could very well be worth the time and the extreme effort that I was putting forth. Although only eight scholarships were being awarded, my faith was strong and something within said do not shy away from this opportunity and to give it all you got! Admittedly, I oftentimes felt weary during the process, but sometimes you have to deny your feelings and keep pushing forward. Life is about taking chances and this is one of the areas where I decided to step into unknown territory and it paid off.
When did you find out you were a recipient? How did you react?
I began the application process in October 2014 and I found out I was selected in October 2015. I recall my phone ringing, and it was my recruiters on the other line. They said, “Sorry, Sylvia, you were not selected.” “OK,” I replied. I was still at peace – there must be something greater I thought to myself. Then they all at once shouted, “You were SELECTED, CONGRATS!” My eyes filled with tears and I was beyond thankful that the hard work paid off and that I had not given up during this long, hard journey. I experienced a sense of accomplishment because the road I had traveled that year was not an easy one.
What motivates you to serve in the Air Force versus as a civilian nurse?
There’s nothing like a challenge in life, and my motivation to serve in the Air Force as a nurse versus as a civilian nurse will bring challenges both large and small – some I like and some I do not like. I am willing to take the good with the bad in this career. As a nurse in the military, I will not always be in a comfortable hospital or clinic setting. At times, I will have to care for patients in dangerous settings, especially during deployments to foreign war zones. I will have opportunities to travel around the world and experience life that I may not ever had been able to experience as a civilian nurse. For me, serving my country in whatever capacity it may be is honorable and respectable, and it allows me to be a part of a larger picture of American history and that is a big deal!