President’s awardee sets her sights on ICU

Kara Jeffries won the President's Award for the School of Nursing.

At 4 years old, Kara Jeffries learned what it means to be a good nurse. The leukemia survivor’s experience as a patient led her to become the compassionate professional that she is today — the kind of student who wins the President’s Award for the School of Nursing.

The new bachelor’s degree holder has earned a job in the medical intensive care unit at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Jeffries did not originally plan to work in ICU, but her clinical education at Loma Linda University Medical Center convinced her it was the right path for her.

“If I had not come to Loma Linda University, I don’t think I would have the confidence to go straight into working in the ICU setting,” the Bakersfield, California, native says. “My teachers and clinical instructors have been amazing.”

Jeffries has wanted to work in a medical field ever since her successful battle as a pediatric cancer patient. “I am so thankful to be where I am today. God has richly blessed,” she says.

Her experience with leukemia fuels her passion to help others, as she remembers that some of her nurses were amazing — and some were not.

She told herself, “I want to be one of the good ones.”

The ICU, she explains, will allow her to care for patients and families at their most vulnerable state.

“Nurses' kind words and explanations of difficult situations can make a world of difference during these scary times,” she says. “I am blessed to be able to be that person to those patients and families.

“Furthermore, the team work that takes place in the ICU is like nothing I have seen before,” she adds. “It is amazing and I love being a part of it.”

Jeffries has already been active in service to others during her studies at the School of Nursing. She has mentored other students in study groups and the nursing simulation laboratory, and she has been an active participant in school and community service events. She also served as treasurer for the school’s Association of Student Nurses and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society.

“Kara is a student who cares about other students,” says Zelne Zamora, DNP, assistant professor, noting that Kara volunteered, without asking anything in return, to help classmates and underclassmen as a study group leader, tutor and mentor.

Zamora adds that Jeffries lives out the mission of Loma Linda University and is “humble, smart and appreciative of her learning at the School of Nursing.”

Jeffries affirms her appreciation for the school. “My time here at LLU has given me a great foundation to start my nursing career,” she says.

Post-graduation, in addition to working in the ICU, Jeffries is looking forward to time to relax and focus on hobbies such as hiking and traveling. As demonstrated by her President’s Award, people would agree that she has earned it.