During her clinical at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md., junior nursing major Scholastica Ibezimako listened as the nurses talked about a patient — an older man — who was stressed and frustrated about his illness.

Thinking that she might be able to help, Ibezimako stopped by his room. They started talking and discovered that they spoke the same dialect from their native Nigeria. She helped him order his dinner. By the time her shift was over, he was more relaxed and comfortable.

“I was glad that I could help him feel better,” says Ibezimako. “Catholic University’s nursing school teaches us to be proactive toward patients, to care for the whole person, to ask the right questions so they can help us to help them.”

Ibezimako, a Conway Scholar whose education costs are covered by a full scholarship funded by the Bedford Falls Foundation Charitable Trust, has thrived at the nursing school, which emphasizes the role of ethics, values, and spirituality in  health care. Nursing faculty are more than teachers; they are mentors who are accessible outside the classroom. Her advisor, Clinical Instructor Jane Taylor, is available to meet with  Ibezimako if she’s struggling with an assignment or having a tough day. “We take a personal approach with our students,” says Taylor. “A student is also a daughter, a sister. It’s important to know them in the context of their lives.”  

The second of five siblings in a traditional Nigerian family,  Ibezimako works part time as a home health care aide. She’s also a member of the Honors Program, the Student Nurses Association, the Black Student Alliance, and the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL). Ibezimako says that at Catholic University she’s had the opportunity to explore her cultural identity, which is important to her personally and in her role as a future nurse.

“I can’t be Scholastica without being Nigerian without being Catholic,” she says. “As a nurse, I’ll be working with patients from many different backgrounds. Catholic University has helped me to figure out who I want to be as a nurse and as a Catholic because we’re an open and tolerant community of different races and beliefs.”