Spotlight: Graduate Ambassador Alexandria Ballard-Sims

By Alexandria Ballard-Sims, Doctor Nurse Practitioner student

Ballard-Sims at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in 2020.

Throughout my undergrad at Wayne State University, I dedicated time to learning more about doctor of nursing practice programs (DNP) in Michigan. I visited a number of schools, including the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Flint, University of Detroit Mercy, and Michigan State University. I was impressed with the schools’ missions, visions, statistics, and high rankings, but I noticed one missing key factor—an urban setting with opportunities to celebrate and interact with students from diverse backgrounds.

The Wayne State University College of Nursing (WSU-CON) is located in the center of Detroit and impacts the Virginia Park neighborhood with the recent establishment of the Taylor Street Primary Care Clinic. The involvement of the WSU-CON in the community made me want to get more involved in making an impact in the city.  

I chose the DNP program at WSU-CON because it is one of the very few programs that addresses current health disparities in urban populations. Before being accepted into the program, I attended their annual Urban Health Conference and was impressed by the amount of evidence-based nursing research geared toward reducing health disparities of local populations. It encouraged me to apply and pursue my DNP degree in adult primary care. Two years later, I am still thrilled with my decision. The nursing school faculty are supportive of my success and work with me one-on-one to help me reach my goals.

COVID-19 was a huge obstacle that we all faced. As a nurse and graduate student, I worked on the frontlines. At the beginning of the pandemic, WSU-CON immediately sent out a call for support, asking for students and faculty to volunteer with the City of Detroit's COVID–19 testing initiative at the Michigan State Fair Grounds. I was proud of the college's efforts to protect the community against COVID-19. I took advantage of this opportunity to volunteer with my peers and faculty to keep our community safe.

Fast forward to spring 2021. WSU-CON sent out another call for action to promote and administer COVID-19 vaccinations by traveling to homeless shelters and senior living facilities with the City of Detroit Health Department. Again, I volunteered and remained enrolled in the summer and fall semester classes. Despite the many trials and tribulations of COVID-19, I remained focused on the importance of completing the DNP program and met regularly with faculty to ensure I met all necessary benchmarks.

As a future nurse practitioner, I look forward to continuing to partner with local Detroit community health organizations to promote health equity, education, and healthy lifestyles to prevent chronic diseases.

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