Meet University of Arizona Nursing student Emily Franks, who will graduate from the College’s Master of Science for Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) program in August 2021.
An inquisitive, hardworking scholar with a soaring GPA that reflects her drive to succeed, Emily first earned a degree in Business Management from Eller College of Management in 2006. She worked her way up the ladder at Starbucks as a store manager and trainer before deciding to return to school for nursing. “Having worked in customer service for over 14 years, I was privy to deep human connection on a regular basis,” she says. “Yet, over the years, I developed a sense that I wanted to make a greater impact in my community”
Both her mother and sister are also UArizona nursing alumna, which makes Emily proud to point out, “I’m a Wildcat through and through.”
We caught up with Emily recently to learn more about her time in the MEPN program and her thoughts about her bright future.
“I will be among some of the finest nurses. I will always look back at my time as a nursing student fondly. I have made lifelong connections with other amazing Wildcat Nurses, and I am honored to be a part of such a prestigious alumnus,” ~ Emily Franks, UArizona Nursing Class of 2021
Why did you choose to pursue a career in nursing?
There seemed to be many forces guiding me toward the path of nursing, starting with the birth of my daughter. Almost 10 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first-born, my water broke unexpectedly before my due date. When I was a patient in the hospital, above all else what I remember was the nurse who provided me care. When my situation became more emergent, which I only know to be emergent now, the nurse was so calm yet took swift action. Looking back on that time, I remember feeling cared for and safe. It was at that time that I wanted to be able to provide that feeling to others as well.
Why did you choose UArizona Nursing’s MEPN program to further your education?
The program was ideal for my family situation, as it offered the possibility for be to not only pursue a career in nursing but also remain in Tucson and receive a Master’s degree. My kiddos were settled into a school they loved and moving was not an option. Also, I knew I wanted to take the swiftest route to achieving my goal of becoming a nurse. In 2019, when I left my job at Starbucks, I needed to fulfill numerous prerequisites to even be eligible to apply to the MEPN program, which would take about a year. MEPN offered a Master’s in addition to being able to become an RN. It was really the perfect opportunity for me, and I am so grateful.
As both a mom and a student, have you faced any particular challenges?
As all moms are, I am used to wearing many hats. In fact, because my experience of going to nursing coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, we were all forced to wear even more hats – teacher, coach, etc. However, I would honestly say these challenges were not unique to me, and, like many parents, I have a reinvigorated respect for teachers and the work they do for our kids. Yet, I will say that the greatest challenge for me was recalibrating expectations of myself, knowing this ‘new normal’ was only temporary. I can also say honestly that none of this would have been possible with the support of my husband, friends, and family.
What are your biggest takeaways from your time in the program?
It has taught me just how much I truly can accomplish when I set my mind to it. Also, I have learned the value of prioritization and acceptance of myself doing the best work I can. Additionally, when I look at my kiddos and tell them they can be whatever they want to be, I am proud of the example I have been able to set that it’s never too late to be want you want to be, even it’s hard, even if you’re afraid.
What does it mean to you to be a Wildcat Nurse?
This is a title I will wear proudly. I know I will be among some of the finest nurses. I will always look back at my time as a nursing student fondly. I have made lifelong connections with other amazing Wildcat Nurses, and I am honored to be a part of such a prestigious alumnus.
What are your plans for the future?
I have accepted a position at Northwest Medical Center in the Acute Care Telemetry unit, where I will begin working following graduation. I found a passion for cardiac nursing throughout my experiences in this program, and I hope to one day work in a cardiovascular ICU. In the future, I hope to take on a role that provides me the opportunity to draw on my management experience as well. I also hope to one day pursue an educator pathway, whether it be as a preceptor on my unit or even as a clinical instructor for a program like MEPN.