Elina Shampan

I wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. I was always interested in medicine and liked watching medical shows. But the dream was solidified when I was in the hospital at age 13 with thyroid cancer. I knew forever that I wanted to be a nurse and I feel that’s a huge blessing because some people struggle with that.

I graduated from St. Kate’s in 1991 with my bachelor's in nursing; earned my master's at Loyola in Chicago in 2002; then returned to St. Kate's to earn my nursing doctorate in 2018.

I’ve always felt St. Kate's prepared me for whatever I was going to encounter. As a young nurse, you don't think about all the things you're going to be doing or that you’ll have to be a leader and step up sometimes. That doesn't mean I knew it all or wasn't nervous, I just felt really prepared. There are many things you learn on the job that no one can teach you, but I remember our nursing clinical rotations as being relevant and comprehensive. I felt I’d been taught well.

I have spent my entire career in pediatrics and feel pediatric nursing is a dying art. I did have a pediatric clinical rotation at St. Kate’s, which I still remember clear as day. Many higher education nursing programs do not offer pediatric rotations, as placements are limited and highly competitive, so I’m grateful for my experience.

I recall in high school, taking some of the advanced science classes in chemistry and biology. I was one of the few women in the room. I knew I wanted to have an experience where women were learning together. Maybe because St. Kate’s is an all-women’s university, I found it very easy to focus. You have the ability to just be who you are without any distractions. There are so many opportunities to be yourself and learn in an inclusive environment.

One of the things I took advantage of and that contributed to my competence as a leader is being an RA — resident advisor — in the dorm. I think back on how much those younger students, away from home for the first time, just needed a little bit of guidance. I loved living on campus all four years. You’re in a beautiful St. Paul neighborhood and I enjoyed being with the students in that environment.

I always felt a lot of support around me at St. Kate’s. I met so many people and learned about different cultures, which was treated as something important. This was back in 1991! It's made me more open to other ideas and cultures. We celebrated our diversity, yet here we are, now, and the world is still trying to catch up. They were ahead of that all those years ago.

When I received my doctorate, I was selected to give the Graduate College commencement address at graduation. Each school of study nominated one person from their graduating class, then you submitted a paragraph for review to choose who the student speaker would be. I thought, ‘Oh, they'll never pick me.’ And they did! O’Shaughnessy Auditorium was full of people, and I was able to talk about something I’m super passionate about. It is one of the highlights of my life.