Golden Lamp Award: Kayla Corwin

Kayla Corwin

There is no traditional route to Commencement, as Kayla Corwin learned. This Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) graduating student has been an undergraduate for nine years. “I had a long road getting here,” she said.

Science has always been a strength of Corwin’s. In high school she took an anatomy class and while her fellow students were squeamish, Corwin was more fascinated than grossed out. She eventually realized that she wanted to be a nurse. “I’m a curious person and nursing is the type of career where you’re always going to be learning and evolving,” she said. Corwin also loves that she gets to work with people.

The first time she applied to nursing school, at age 20, she wasn’t accepted. It hurt at the time, but looking back she knows it was for the best. “I don’t think I would have had the same experience then as I did now.” She knows she would have made it through, but the life experience she’s had since she first applied helped her hone in on what she wanted to do with her nursing degree.

In the short term, Corwin hopes to work in critical care and after getting experience at the bedside, she wants to earn a master’s and move into nursing education. The interest in education came from tutoring she did and working with the Oregon Student Nursing Association to help students find their path in nursing and navigating the system.

Corwin’s first degree, a bachelor’s in sociology from Portland State University, has been influential on her approach to nursing. She originally planned to major in microbiology and took a sociology class along the way, however, that one class was all she needed to fall in love with the field and convince her to change her major. Corwin’s interest in people shone through in sociology. She loved learning about the different aspects of society and what she learned pushed her toward nursing even more. “There are so many things that influence people’s choices and their choices may be limited. People really do try to deal with things in their life as best as they can even if it looks unhealthy to other people,” she said.

Corwin was pleased to have been accepted to OHSU’s satellite campus at WOU, specifically. After her acceptance to the program her husband got a new job in Eugene. The couple moved to Keizer and the commute has been manageable. “If I was going to do nursing school, I wanted to make sure I was giving it everything I had,” she said. The location and atmosphere at OHSU’s Monmouth program has been a good fit. “OHSU has a comprehensive education that goes far beyond care,” she said, emphasizing the research and critical thinking elements of the program.

She encourages others to pursue a career in nursing and, for those who choose the path, she advises them to not give up. “Find your passion. There are so many avenues,” she said, adding, “If there is something you don’t like then don’t be afraid to start over and identify what you want to do.”

Corwin admitted that it is a difficult and demanding program. “I missed my friends and family. Nursing school takes a lot of time and dedication. You have to be self-driven and learn to say no to things on occasion.” However, she believes that when it comes down to it, it’s completely worthwhile. Serving others with heart and compassion is fulfilling and Corwin can’t wait to start her career.

About the award
The Golden Lamp Award is based on the American Nurses Association Code for Professional Nurses and the Florence Nightingale Pledge, and is given in recognition of exemplary demonstration of scholarship, leadership, professional commitment, innovative contributions and humanitarian ideals.