Vanessa Rushing, 22, is going to add letters to her name when she graduates from USF’s nursing program this spring.
Rushing knew she was going to become a nurse ever since she was a little kid. She never envisioned herself as anything else. She grew up with two older sisters who were both nurses.
When Rushing was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with Familial Hypophosphatemia Rickets. Her health caused her to constantly be in and out of Shriners Hospital until she was 18 years old. Being surrounded by nurses made Rushing’s career path even more clear.
Rushing is originally from St. Petersburg, Florida. She did not want to stray too far from home when she was choosing what college to attend. She also put USF high on her list, since it is the home of one of the best nursing programs in the state.
During her second semester at USF, Rushing joined a sorority on campus. Being a member of Gamma Phi Beta helped her create her best memories of college.
“My favorite part about coming to college and coming to USF was definitely joining my sorority, Gamma Phi,” Rushing said. “I met so many amazing women through it. I live with two of my sisters now and great memories are made every day.”
Rushing’s best advice for new USF students is to get involved at school as soon as possible.
“You meet a ton of people through getting involved, whether it be from a sorority or a fraternity, or any other organization,” Rushing said. “You make connections and form really awesome bonds that way. Your whole college experience from that point on is just 10 times better.”
The friends she made in her sorority and her classes helped Rushing through the hardest time in her life.
“My worst experience at USF was my sophomore year after my dad passed away,” Rushing said. “It was a really tough semester. I was just applying to the nursing program, so I had all that stress on me at that end. Losing a parent is also really hard and really difficult to go through, especially when you’re at such a young age.”
Many college students’ nightmares became a reality for Rushing.
“It became harder to keep up my grades,” Rushing said. “But he was my biggest support system.”
She didn’t let her dark days keep her from reaching her goals. She became more motivated to make her dad proud of her.
“I feel like I subconsciously would make myself work harder,” Rushing said. “Just to make sure I was doing him justice and make him feel proud.”
Rushing is going to make her dad proud as she walks across the stage in May. She will be taking her exam to become an official registered nurse soon after. Her goal is to work on either the pediatric floor, the ER or the pediatric ER.
Her friends who have known her all throughout college are cheering her on and know Rushing is following the correct career path. Nicole Keesee has been friends with Rushing since their freshman year at USF.
“Vanessa will make an absolutely amazing nurse because of how much she truly cares for other people and how selfless she is,” Keesee said. “She is always putting others before herself and I think that is such an important quality to have when entering the medical field.”