From 9/11 to Nursing
The date was September 11, 2001. I was seven years old and in Ms. Francis’ second grade class. At about nine o’clock, we were just finishing up a math lesson when we were made aware that something had happened. Something horrible. Being so young, no one really understood. America was under attack and here I was,immature and naive, not knowing that this single event would one day would make such an impact on my life.
The day began like any other. I woke up at 7:30, got ready, and was on the bus by 8. I arrived at Memorial Elementary shortly after 8 AM. I went to the auditorium where we would wait every morning until our teacher arrived to take us to the classroom. Ms. Francis, my second grade teacher, came and got our class and we followed her to our lockers. We hung up our backpacks and made our way into the classroom. We then proceeded to begin our math lesson.
Shortly after 9, the phone rang. “Hello?” Ms. Francis answered the telephone. I watched as my second grade teacher’s face quickly lost all of its color. She ran her fingers thru her short, blonde hair and took a deep breath. “What should I do with my students?” we heard her ask with a shaky tone. “Oh, okay. Thank you.”Click. Ms. Francis turned uneasily from the phone and walked slowly towards her desk. She lifted the remote up off of her desk and turned on the television in the classroom.
The image on the screen was a news reporter, and in the background were two tall buildings that we had been told were located in New York City. They were the World Trade Center or “Twin Towers” as the news woman referred to them as. Smoke slowly wafted from the buildings. They had been hit by airplanes and were slowly burning to their demise. I could not help but thinking, was this an accident? At the time, not one of us could even come close to grasping what was taking place in our country.
Shortly after we witnessed the news story, the classroom phone began to ring off the hook. One by one, parents would arrive to pick up their children. To keep us calm, we played cherry pie. I remember hoping my mother would call and come to pick me and my younger brother up from school. Although I still had no idea what was happening, this seemed to be a free ticket to get out of school for the day. The day lingered on, and by early afternoon eleven of my classmates had been picked up and taken home.
My mother was just getting back from a walk when I arrived home from school around 4. She had been off from work this day.“Why didn’t you pick me and Matt up from school?” I asked in a demanding tone.“Well honey, I didn’t want you guys to be scared. We are safe here, and everything is under control. None of the attacks happened close to Pittsburgh”my mother expressed in a reassuring voice. She seemed rather calm in comparison to all of the fuss my classmates’ parents had made earlier that day. But, I had no idea how this single event taking place nearly four hundred miles away would have such an effect on our daily lives in Pittsburgh.
The days following September 11 progressed on, and the days turned into weeks. I recall viewing countless news stories where many paramedics, firemen, doctors and nurses worked vigorously around the clock to save the lives of survivors. My preliminary inspiration to become part of the medical field occurred shortly after witnessing these rescues. I thought to myself, how amazing it must be to save lives. This thought remained a small seed in the back of my mind for the next few years. In 2005, nearly four years after September 11,a second event would occur to help sprout this idea I had kept in the back of my mind for so long.
My mother worked for US Airways, taking reservations and resolving a myriad of customer service issues. Although not working directly for the airlines that were involved in the tragedies of that day, her vocation and her future would nonetheless be affected by it. The events of September 11 would prompt major changes in the airline industry, cause a significant downturn in air travel,and trigger a negative impact on the economy as a whole. My mother’s position of seventeen years was now in jeopardy. For the first few years immediately following 9/11, the airline industry continued to struggle. Finally,in 2005, her job had been completely eliminated in Pittsburgh.
After losing her job my mother considered what to do next. Where would she go? What other options did she have at this point? She talked to family members and friends and attempted to come up with a plan. Being that the majority of our family consists of nurses and those in the medical field, this direction appealed to her. She had excellent people skills, and a passion for caring - which are vital for working in the nursing profession. She began to look into nursing school. Community College of Allegheny County seemed to be the best fit. In August of 2006,my mom started nursing school to obtain an Associate, or two year degree. I remember helping her to make flashcards and studying with her. I was always so fascinated by the different body regions and health aspects she was studying. This provoked my initial interest in the nursing field.
In May of 2008, my mom graduated. I watched as she went through the pinning ceremony and then to go on to work at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. A few months after she began there, a nun named Sister Caroline gave my mom a card,stating what a good nurse she was and how appreciative they were to have her working there. My mother told me that Sister Caroline lived in the convent at Carlow University. She informed me that Carlow had a great nursing program and that she felt I should follow in her footsteps and become a nurse. I already had an interest in nursing that was influenced by September 11, other family members, and now my mother by making her way through nursing school. I decided in my freshman year of high school that I would become a nurse. I would work hard through high school and apply to Carlow University, where the nun lived who had applauded my mom’s hard work.
I now am attending the college of my choice, pursuing the field of interest that became clear to me some time ago. Although this career path may have somehow been remotely influenced by a tragic event in our nation’s history, I can’t think of many career choices better suited to give back to a society that I’m proud to be a part of. It’s funny how one small twist of fate can lead to a major life decision.