As a newborn, Kayla Clough wasn’t supposed to live beyond her first 24 hours.
Now 21, she’s beaten the odds ever since, including becoming the first member of her family to graduate college. Clough received her bachelor of science degree in nursing on Dec. 6.
“As a first-generation college student, I faced a lot of challenges with selecting colleges and determining the best school to pursue my goal of becoming a nurse,” Clough said. “Like most freshman, I struggled at first to find my place in college. There are so many organizations and so much to do that it was hard to find ‘my people.’ However, I soon found some friendships within the Student Nurses Association and through the Jesup Scott Honors College. Being connected to these organizations changed my perspective on college completely. I started feeling more motivated and saw a rise in my grades as a result.”
Clough, who served as the UToledo Student Nurses Association’s president during her final year, said it was her childhood health struggles that inspired a cousin to pursue his nursing career. And, in turn, it was another cousin’s heart failure, when Clough was a senior in high school, that inspired her to become a nurse.
“I spent a lot of time in hospital rooms and waiting rooms and experienced a lot of anxiety about having someone so close to me be so sick,” Clough said. “The people who helped him and also my family the most were the nurses.
“I saw them at the bedside, in the waiting room, on the phone getting answers and really doing anything they could to save my cousin’s life. I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”
UToledo was attractive to her, she said, in part for its close proximity to her family in south Toledo, which allowed her to commute to school, and the nursing program’s strong reputation.
Her goal is to make a difference in her community. And as a UToledo student, she already has. She planned and executed a fundraising booth to help victims of human trafficking and raised money to donate to Cystic Fibrosis research. She also was selected to represent UToledo in the House of Delegates at the National Student Nurses Association Convention.
“It feels amazing,” she said, “to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Patty Sopko, an instructor in the College of Nursing Instruction and the advisor for UToledo’s chapter of the association, speaks highly of Clough.
“Kayla is one of those students who stands out right away with her professional demeanor in class, lab, committee work and clinical experiences,” Sopko said. “She is a natural-born leader who takes her studies seriously while at the same time trying to make the world a better place.”