Morgan Pickeral

18 Sep 2023

Why I Want to Pursue a Career in Nursing and Serve My Community

I was born with a congenital birth condition called Hemifacial Microtia. It only occurs in about 1 in 5,000 to 7,000 births per year which is 0.02% to 0.014%. It is a non-hereditary condition that is not testable or identifiable until after birth. There are three main components to the condition: (1) asymmetrical facial and head features; (2) missing or smaller than usual external ears and (3) hearing loss in the ears affected. In my case my facial asymmetry is not immediately noticeable however, my right external ear was just a small bottom lobe, and my left external ear was smaller than usual and bent at the top. To date, I have had a total of (11) surgeries that include reconstructive surgeries on both ears. These surgeries included removal of rib cartilage to reconstruct my ears and skin grafts removed from my rear. I also have severe hearing loss in both ears making me “hard of hearing” and requiring hearing aids (baha, phonak, which I’ve worn since birth.

My pediatrician and ENT Surgeon recommended to my parents that they ensure that I am not treated as being deaf, so I never learned sign language. Instead, I wore hearing aids and had speech therapy from ages 1 to 9 years old. I’ve undergone 11 surgeries so far to address my hearing issues and reconstruct my outer ears. My parents tried to schedule them during school breaks and summers to reduce lost time at school. My parents have always supported me. They’ve always taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to, so they never sheltered me from trying new things. They never had lower expectations of me when compared to my older sister. They expected me to do my best. I excelled in school receiving all A’s from elementary school and now even through high school and dual enrollment college classes. My family also made sure I was physically and socially active so I was in Girl Scouts, played on a church soccer & basketball teams, swam on a summer swim team, and danced for 9 years with a competitive dance company. I am also active in several Grayson High School student organizations.

Many people with my condition can become depressed and withdrawn because they are different. I understand how they feel because I used to be annoyed when kids would ask what happened to my ears and stomach. They always assumed my ear anomalies and stomach scars were from an accident. After explaining my condition to my friends, they have all become impressed with my grades and very encouraging. I’ve come to realize and truly accept that I am different … and that’s a wonderful thing!

In spite of my situation, I have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school, while taking multiple rigorous courses (AP, dual enrollment, and gifted classes). My parents never prevented me from trying new things and maintained high expectations of me. I excelled in school receiving straight A’s during elementary school and now even through high school (including dual enrollment college classes). I am currently ranked #63 of 700 graduating senior students. I hope that my transcripts, honors, awards, and community service noted previously reflect the type of student you deem worthy of The Darrelle Revis Foundation Scholarship. I also hope that the challenges I have faced and overcame also reflect my strong character and determination. I refuse to give up; I will succeed.

I have been involved with my community in various ways since the 1st grade. I served my community in many ways as a Girl Scout (2010-2018), as a member of Teen Life at my church (2019-2022), as a Grayson High School Student Ambassador ( 2019-present), and most recently volunteering at the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry (2022-present). I’ve participated in numerous community events such as Food for the Poor – preparing meals, Grayson Community Clean-up Day – helping clean trash and debris in our community, service at our local Senior Citizen Community Center – making crafts, dancing, and interacting with our local senior citizens, and even participated in our local Grayson Business Day – as a student ambassador to nurture our relationship with our local businesses.

I will be majoring in Nursing. With my nursing degree, I plan to pursue a career as a Pediatric Surgical Nurse. I’ve always known I wanted to use my surgical experiences and my love for math/science in a career that would help others. I found the surgical nurse to be the most assuring and comforting person at the hospitals. During each of my surgeries, the surgical nurse was always the last person I remember seeing after being sedated, and the first person I saw when I woke up. This gave me a feeling of security during my surgeries. Through those interactions with those nurses, I decided that I wanted to be able to do the same thing for other children in similar situations. As a pediatric surgical nurse I hope to provide comfort and support to children and families in my community who are also dealing with similar differences.

As a Pediatric Surgical Nurse, I will have the knowledge, the ability and be in a position to help heal those in my community. Surgeons may help heal the body, but the nurses nurture the soul; they are an integral part of the community that serve as trusted health advisors. Patients expect their nurses to be well-trained, knowledgeable professionals who have undergone rigorous training to help in assisting patients in multiple locations such as hospitals, clinics, and community medical centers. My overall goal is to serve at The Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, where I had the majority of my surgeries.

Lastly, I have an older sister who is currently in college, which means my parents will have (2) children in college at the same time! My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2022 and had surgery (mastectomy) on January 10, 2023 and reconstructive surgery on April 11th. She hasn’t worked since November 2022 and will not be returning to work in the near future. Receiving this scholarship will certainly help me and my family financially.

Thank you for allowing me to apply for The Darrelle Revis Foundation Scholarship. I truly appreciate this opportunity. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or require additional information.

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