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The 7,815 Mile Journey to Become a Spartan Nurse

"I chose to attend Michigan State University because of the strong nursing program and the high quality of professors that teach within this program."

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My journey from Kenya, to the U.S. and eventually to Michigan State University has been one of many challenges and successes.

I am from a small village in the country of Kenya where we lack appropriate medical care. Where medical care is available, most people (including myself) do not have access to the necessary funds to receive care. This experience is why I continue to pursue a career in the nursing field. 

In high school I worked as a volunteer in a nongovernmental organization that helped rehabilitate street children and homeless children from ages three to 18. It was challenging but rewarding at the same time since I got to witness innocent children overcome drugs, isolation, and abuse.

While volunteering, I met a couple from the United States of America. They recognized my dedication to hard work, discipline, passion, and hunger for education. They brought me to this beautiful country, opened their home to me, and took me in as one of their own children. I can never repay them for the kindness they bestowed to me, but I am happy to have honored them in this way by pursuing higher education; something the entire family embraces. It is such people who have helped me attain my dreams this far.

I chose to attend Michigan State University because of the strong nursing program and the high quality of professors that teach within this program. Based on its land grant values, this university has always been concerned with caring for those in greatest need and that is another reason I was drawn to MSU.

Now the College of Nursing has proven once again that where there is light there is hope. I am both humbled and honored to have been selected to receive the College of Nursing Scholarship. The financial assistance toward my education in the Family Nurse Practitioner concentration will make a big impact towards funding my master’s degree.

It is only with the help of scholarships that I am able to pursue higher education to attain my dreams and focus on my goals of working with rural and underprivileged communities. Without the gift of financial assistance, my dreams would not be realized.

There is a saying by an unknown author, “You have never really lived until you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you.” I will never be able to repay the college for their generosity. Much has been given to me to help me succeed along this 7,815 mile journey of becoming a Spartan nurse. I plan to pay my gift of scholarship forward by improving healthcare in local communities.

After graduation, I would love to work as a primary healthcare provider in a rural area with disadvantaged communities in Michigan. I also plan to take my knowledge back to Kenya to serve my fellow countrymen as a Spartan nurse. My dream is to make primary healthcare accessible to all by working collectively with primary healthcare providers, organizations, higher education institutes, and healthcare centers in rural Kenya. My vision is to provide complete holistic care to the most vulnerable populations.

I thank Michigan State University for the assistance in funding my education, and therefore my future. My family, my community, and my Kenyan neighbor’s thank you as well. You have touched each of their lives by investing in me, in higher education, and in endless possibilities.

Joseph Karanja, MSN-NP Student, Class of ‘17
College of Nursing Scholarship Recipient