Nurses Week Spotlight: Andrea Adams, Jutona Hightower and Lawrence Mark

Andrea Adams, Jutona Hightower and Lawrence Mark are 2023 graduates of the Wayne State University College of Nursing’s BSN for Veterans Program who now work together at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.

From left: Adams, Hightower and Mark during graduation day in December 2023

Why did you choose to pursue a nursing career?  

Andrea: I chose to pursue nursing as a career not only to help people but also for the endless opportunities in the nursing field; this is a career that can take you in many different directions. 

Jutona: I didn’t choose nursing; nursing chose me. I cannot emphasize that enough, because my calling was revealed to me through the desire to improve health care. I want to be able to provide the best care for someone and be able to help people. Even when I tried to veer away from it, I had a strong call and desire that nursing is what I was supposed to do. 

Lawrence: I was inspired by my mother's dedicated service in the medical field spanning two decades, and my own experiences as a flight medic in the Air Force solidified my passion for nursing. Witnessing the incredible work of flight nurses ignited my desire to pursue this noble profession. As I strive to become a flight nurse and officer in 2025, I'm captivated by the myriad opportunities and the profound impact nurses make in people's lives. 

How did you start your career at Karmanos, and what do you enjoy most about working there? 

Andrea: I started working at Karmanos in 2023 as a student extern. I loved it because during every shift, I worked alongside a nurse. Having that experience as a student is ultimately what made me stay on as an RN. I was able to learn so much as a student that when it was time to transition as a GN and RN, I was well prepared to make that transition with minimal stress. Then I was able to persuade my friends Jutona and Lawrence to apply. Having them working alongside me has been amazing. 

Jutona: I heard great things from Andrea in her nurse extern position, so I began to pursue opportunities there. What I really like about being at Karmanos is that I’m learning so much and I’m surrounded by so many who are willing to teach. The providers are amazing, and there’s a genuine commitment to patient safety. I love the patient-to-nurse ratio and the foundation of care. I also love walking in and seeing Wayne State on the building! 

Lawrence: My journey to Karmanos feels serendipitous, yet deeply meaningful. A dear classmate, Andrea, extended the invitation to join her, but it's more than mere chance that led me here. Losing my godfather to cancer at a young age deeply influenced my path toward nursing. Working at Karmanos allows me to honor his memory and contribute to the fight against this disease. 

What was your favorite part of your Wayne State nursing education, and how did it prepare you to succeed in your current role? 

Andrea: The faculty! Wayne State faculty are by far some of the best I have ever encountered, and they were so willing to work with the veterans and military personnel when it comes to accommodating drills and going out of town. I felt so prepared going into work and being able to put those skills into practice. So much so that I sometimes still find myself saying in my head “Dr. Farner wouldn't like that,” or “That's not how she taught us" when I see certain things. These reasons are ultimately why I decided to apply for the DNP program at Wayne State — I'll be back at the College of Nursing in the fall as a DNP student! 

Jutona: My favorite part was the interaction with peers and faculty, on top of the knowledge I developed. I feel like Wayne State equipped me to be the best there is. The relationships I formed and the guidance from faculty were unmatched. My Wayne State nursing education ensured I was fully equipped not only for my current role but to be successful above the standard. 

Lawrence: Wayne State provided not only an exceptional education but also a supportive community of friends, mentors and experienced professors. The program's rigor shaped me into a resilient and inquisitive nurse, unafraid to seek knowledge and guidance. I cherish the diverse perspectives and experiences shared by professors, which enriched my learning journey. WSU's recognition of veterans, with tailored support and mentorship, fostered a deep sense of camaraderie and understanding. This prepared me to excel at Karmanos by honing my critical thinking skills, empowering me to advocate for patients, and facilitating collaboration with specialists. A notable project involving multiple disciplines showcased the importance of teamwork and innovation in patient care. 

Do you have any message for your fellow nurses or aspiring nurses for Nurses Week? 

Andrea: Nursing school is hard, but take it one day, one assignment, one exam at a time and you'll be fine! 

Jutona: Always put your best foot forward. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, even when times may feel challenging or you feel overwhelmed. Always know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Lawrence: To aspiring nurses: Embrace the challenges of nursing school. They pave the way to a rewarding career where you are entrusted with the invaluable task of caring for others' health. The journey continues beyond graduation, with each day offering new lessons and opportunities for growth. To my fellow nurses: Your wisdom and leadership are the cornerstone of our profession. As we celebrate Nurses Week, let us honor the legacy of those who came before us and continue to inspire and guide the next generation of nurses. 

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