Nigeria Native Chineze Oguonu Is Living Her Nursing Dream

UNM RN to BSN online student Chineze Oguonu

Chineze Oguonu would love to tell you why she wanted to become a nurse, but she can't.

That is because, as far back as she can remember, she always knew that she was going to be a nurse.

"I got my RN in 2012 in Nigeria, and I worked there for four years before I relocated and got back into school," she said.

After moving to New Mexico in 2018, Oguonu started UNM's Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program in the fall of 2018. She wants to start working on her master's degree in the fall of 2020.

"I've always wanted to earn my degree and get my master's," she said. "I have never thought that I wasn't going to do it that way."

Oguonu specializes in pediatric care, and while she can't remember what called her to nursing, she can remember exactly why she chose pediatrics.

"I grew up wanting to be a nurse without any particular direction, but sometime in middle school, or there about, I had read this book about children," she said. "It wasn't a lengthy book or anything like that — it was a regular novel — but then the way the main character interacted with the children in the book I could really relate to."

Now that she is living her dream, Oguonu said that her career in nursing has been more than she could have ever hoped for. She is happy to report that UNM's RN to BSN program is helping her grow in her field.

Community and Communication

As Oguonu has been working through the program, she has learned to see her career in new ways and respond to situations with even deeper insight.

Aside from having to learn APA formatting for papers, the transition from a Nigerian school to one in America was not too difficult. In fact, the opportunity to learn new practices and gain new skills in a field she was passionate about made the transition easy for Oguonu.

"Everything has been so interesting to me," she said. "I love the fact that I am learning something completely new."

Specifically, Oguonu points to NURS 408: Leadership and Management as a class that helped her immeasurably.

"I've always been a follower," she said. "That class gave me an insight into what it means to be a leader, and it made me more comfortable with the idea of being a leader in some form."

Oguonu said that while she has learned something in every class, the program as a whole has built her confidence as a nurse and made her a stronger communicator.

"I find myself being better at everything, generally," she said. "In how to talk with people, how to read between lines, what to say and not say, and how to stand up and speak, all of those. It has given me more confidence talking to people. I could do talks right now on what I've learned from being in the RN to BSN program."

A Family Tradition

UNM online RN to BSN student Chineze Oguonu

Chineze Oguonu would love to tell you why she wanted to become a nurse, but she can't.

Coming from a family that holds education in such high esteem, Oguonu found no resistance to her desire to pursue further education, a new job and a new life in America.

"Nobody has ever objected, my whole family is educated, everybody believes in education, so it wasn't actually hard at all," she said.

Along with their blessing, Oguonu received some financial support from her parents in her international educational journey.

"My parents were going to support me, they need to help me so that I don't need to get a loan, they're going to help me financially maybe and that's all the support I needed," she said.

Aside from her parents' financial support, Oguonu said that having her brothers close by made it easier to handle any immediate problems.

"My brothers were always at my beck and call whenever I had questions or needed information because they've been here a little longer than I have," she said. "They were all supportive."

Surrounded by positivity, Oguonu is blossoming not only in her career, but as a whole new person.

Meaning and Purpose

When your dream job becomes your reality, there is always some fear that day-to-day life may not meet your expectations. For Oguonu, however, her career as a nurse has exceeded her expectations and helped her discover new things about herself.

"I really do not think I could have survived in any other profession except something medically inclined, and it was just everything I had dreamt of," she said. "I always read about how it will be, so when I relocated, it wasn't anything new for me, but it was more than I expected it to be and even more exciting every day."

For Oguonu, the real thrill of nursing comes from the patients she sees every day. Through the good times and the bad, Oguonu said that her patients fill her life with meaning and purpose.

"I'm very introverted, and I don't exactly talk a lot outside my job," she said. "I'm a whole different person inside my job. I'm not certain about what point I learned to do that, but the fact is that I see a new me, a different me.

"My patients, no matter what they do, make me happy," she continued. "I love the job, and it's funny that when I have off days — if it's more than three days in a row — I feel uncomfortable like something is wrong."

In that sense, seeing her patients heal is also what heals Oguonu.  

"I really love seeing them get out of their situations, get better, watch them grow and learn about them," she said. "Everything just excites me about it."

Learn more about the UNM online RN to BSN program.


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