Several days after celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2018 at commencement ceremonies, the University of Florida College of Nursing is looked toward the future, welcoming its next cohort of Accelerated B.S.N. students in May.
One incoming accelerated student, Ilyssa Schatz, won’t have to go far. Schatz earned her bachelor’s degree in public health this spring from the College of Public Health and Health Professions right next door.
If Schatz gives any insight into the next class of Gator Nurses, the future is bright. Her lifetime of service has revealed a strong desire and goal to be a pediatric nurse, and to serve and make a difference in the lives of children.
This spring, Schatz was a recipient of UF’s Presidential Service Award. The program honors students who dedicate themselves to promoting social justice, community awareness and civic engagement on campus and in the community. Recipients must have completed 400 hours of service during their time as an undergraduate student or 200 hours for graduate and professional students.
“My involvement in service has made me who I am today,” Schatz reflected. “I value empathy, which requires a level of understanding that suspends the ego and allows me to feel what others feel. I value compassion, which means caring immensely for those around me and supporting them in every way.”
Schatz also received UF’s Outstanding Service Among Undergraduate Students Award, which is given to a student whose service was exemplary. She has volunteered with Children Beyond our Borders, where she started a tutoring program for migrant workers’ children in Alachua, and with UF Inclusive Sports and Unified Fitness, a fitness program pairing students with disabilities from the Sidney Lanier Center with UF students. She served as a health education intern at the Girls Place Inc., and as a camp counselor for the Florida Diabetes Camp and Camp Boggy Creek every summer for the past four years.
Schatz seeks to help campers build self-confidence and learn to care for their own health needs. That may include holding the hand of a 9 year old as she inserts her insulin pump for the first time or encouraging a girl who had been bullied for her illness to share her musical talents with fellow campers.
“I cherish moments such as being asked by my camper with spina bifida to accompany her onstage for a talent show, swim in the pool with her for the very first time, or listen to the stories of a child battling numerous surgeries and hospital visits,” Schatz said. “Service has helped me find my goal in life to pursue pediatric nursing, because I am happiest when I am making a difference in the life of a child who needs it most.”