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Nurses Week Undergraduate Student Spotlight

Kayla Leko is a graduating senior from Knoxville. She has served the UT Student Nurses Association as president (2018–19) and secretary (2017–18). While pursuing her nursing degree, she was a member of the International Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau, and she will be graduating summa cum laude. This past April, she was awarded a Student Nurse Excellence Award from the Tennessee Nurses Association, District 2. For the past three years, Leko has worked as a resident assistant at Laurel Hall. During her time with UT Housing she was a winner of The Rock award for unsung hero and the Stephen Stoll Award for Outstanding Community Development.

Why did you pursue a degree in nursing? I wanted the opportunity to advocate for those in need and give direct patient care. I distinctly remember the moment that I decided I wanted to be a nurse. Before college, I worked at a community pool, and I rescued a toddler that had been drowning. After this occurrence, I realized that I wanted to make a difference and help others everyday of my life. Nursing is my calling, and I feel honored to have completed my degree at UT.

What are your plans after graduation? I have accepted a position at CHI Memorial in Chattanooga in the medical/surgical telemetry track.

What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing a nursing degree? My greatest advice is to never give up. Some days will be difficult, but always remember why you pursuing a nursing degree. Also, do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. You might find your passion along the way.

Favorite memory of your time as a student at the UT College of Nursing? Volunteering with Sprint for the Prints for the Precious Prints Project. It was inspiring to see everyone working together to raise funds to give a tangible, fingerprint necklace to those that had lost a child.