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"Why I Want to be a Nurse" essay contest winner Sage Gaikowski poses with her parents, Amy and Justin Gaikowski, of Waubay.
"Why I Want to be a Nurse" essay contest winner Sage Gaikowski poses with her parents, Amy and Justin Gaikowski, of Waubay.

Winners named in SDSU nursing essay contest

SDSU nursing instructor Heidi Pelzel and Sage Gaikowski
“Why I Want to be a Nurse” essay contest winner Sage Gaikowski poses with Heidi Pelzel, an instructor at SDSU nursing’s Aberdeen program. The award was presented at Waubay Elementary School in May during National Nursing Week.

“Nurses make a difference in people’s lives every day,” according to Sage Gaikowski, winner of the 2021 “Why I Want to be a Nurse” essay contest sponsored by the College of Nursing at South Dakota State University.

The 150-word competition is open to any fifth grader in the state.

Gaikowski, a student at Waubay Elementary and the 11-year-old daughter of Amy and Justin Gaikowski, wrote, “I want to be a nurse to care for others. Nurses are caring, loving, loyal and kind. They care for people of all ages. Nurses care for healthy and sick people. 

“Nurses encourage healthy living and lifestyles to prevent illness. Nurses help support families in difficult times.”

Gaikowski has some personal insight on nursing because her mother is a 1999 SDSU nursing grad and has been at Avera Medical Group Waubay since 2001.

Second-place went to Maddyn LeBrun, 12, of Egan. LeBrun, the daughter of Nick and Lachelle LeBrun and a student at Flandreau Middle School, wrote, “I want to be a nurse to make people feel good and make the world a better place. Maya Angelou said, ‘They may forget your name, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.’ I want to be that kind of nurse.”

LeBrun also has nursing heritage. Her mom Lachelle (Ahlers) is a 2006 SDSU grad and works at the Dell Rapids hospital. Her grandmother, Helen Mousel, of Egan, is a 1971 SDSU nursing grad and worked in surgery for many years at the Dell Rapids hospital.

The winner receives $100 with $75 to second place. Both receive College of Nursing T-shirts and other items. Awards were presented at the winners’ schools in May during National Nursing Week.

Commenting on both essays, Mary Anne Krogh, dean of the College of Nursing, said, “Your essays clearly showed us your deep desire for and understanding of nursing as a profession. We need visionary thinkers like you to help solve the health care needs of the future. You are to be commended for your hard work.”