Lauren Esser has thought of being a nurse for most of her life. Now a prenursing student at South Dakota State University, Esser is trying to make those thoughts a reality.
Even before Esser entered the College of Nursing’s annual “I want to be a nurse” essay contest for fifth-grade students, she wanted to be a nurse like her mom, Lisa. After some prompting by her mom, Lauren submitted her essay and finished as the runner-up in 2008.
“A large part of wanting to be a nurse was my mom,” Esser said. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the hospital just hanging out there before and after school. I remember seeing her interact with patients and their family members and how much it meant to those people to have a nurse there and someone who was understanding of what they were going through.
“She had such a positive effect not only on patients but also others at the hospital,” she continued. “All of the kids at school would say ’I broke my arm and your mom was my nurse. She’s such a great nurse.’ So yes, mom was a large part of why I wanted to be a nurse then and still now. I want to be able to help people like she does. She’s a great nurse.”
After spending a semester attending the University of Utah, Esser returned to her hometown of Custer. She then chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing through the college’s West River nursing program.
“It’s accredited and requires the most clinical hours of any nursing program in South Dakota. As a result, you get a lot of hands-on experience before you start your career,” Esser said. “I wasn’t sure where I’d be now, but kind of always had the idea I wanted to be a nurse. It’s never changed from when I was little. It’s kind of refreshing to know I actually made it here. It’s funny I wrote this essay eight years ago and here I am.”