Mel began her nursing career as a Community Health Nurse with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. She always knew she wanted to focus on health promotion. Today, she is an avid volunteer and has served on the Clallam County Public Health Advisory Committee, Prevention Works! board, the Juan de Fuca Festival of Arts board, and the Neah Bay Chamber of Commerce. Her current focus as the Public Health Director is to work with the community to identify and implement health promotion and wellness programs and policies that reflect the cultural values of the community in which she serves.
“Volunteering provides the opportunity to make good things happen in our community.”
Why did you choose nursing as a profession?
I chose nursing for two reasons. First, because it is a career that can grow and develop over time, with many, many opportunities for specializing and branching out. Second, I chose nursing because of my friendship with a fellow who was living with AIDS. This was back in 1990 when there were no medications to help control the disease. When he moved into hospice I saw the impact that a good nurse could have on a person’s life, dignity, and well-being. I was in awe of the nurse and wanted to be able to provide that important care to people who are ill.
Tell us a little bit about your career, what you are doing, and where you work.
My first job as a nurse was working as a Community Health Nurse with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. I enjoyed working with elders and new parents in their home and having the opportunity to do health promotion with their entire families. After returning to school for a MSN/MPH, I worked for two years as a Public Health Nurse with Public Health-Seattle King County’s Communicable Disease, Epidemiology & Immunization Division. Now I am the Public Health Director with the Makah Tribe.
Why did you choose to attend WSU College of Nursing?
I chose to attend WSU because I wanted a rigorous nursing education that would ensure I was well prepared for whatever type of nursing I chose to do. WSU had the benefit of a multicultural student body and professors with experience to inform their teaching.
Who is your favorite faculty and why?
I had many favorite faculty at ICNE. I’ve stayed in touch with two over the decades and these two nurses continue to inspire me. Jan Holloway, RN, taught my first-year clinic at the nursing home. I was unsure of my skills and needed a lot of reassurance. Jan provided me with guidance, encouragement, and education that was the backbone for all my future work as a nurse. Jan continues to inspire as she volunteers for breast cancer awareness and fundraising activities, keeps active, and sends me positive messages all these years later!
What advice would you give to new nursing students just starting at the college?
Talk to your professors! Let them know who you are and what your interests are. Professors can help you problem solve as you go through nursing school, and they can be a great resource in the future.