Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Laura Okolo

Roseman University College of Nursing Alumni Dr. Laura Okolo returned to Roseman as the Graduate Practicum Coordinator College of Nursing – ABSN in June 2020. spectRUm caught up with Dr. Okolo for our September issue.

Q: Welcome home Dr. Okolo! Will you tell us a little about your background and where you are from?

A: Nursing is a part of my family that dates to my 100+ year old living grandmother.  She was a nurse midwife in Nigeria.  She had the first and only maternity clinic in the town and served her community selflessly.  Knowing her history and hearing her story I strive to emulate her accomplishments and her drive.  I have always enjoyed learning of different medical concepts and challenges.  Knowing how nursing can be involved in so many aspects of one’s life I know that it is the best career choice I could’ve made

Q: Why did you want to become a nurse?

A: At a young age I had an affinity for taking care of people.  It started with dolls and stuffed animals. I eventually progressed to humans.  When my older sister was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, I felt that it was my duty to take care of her.  I wanted to do anything I could to help.  My mom noticed this and encouraged my natural caring ability and suggested nursing.  Oddly enough, I was not sure it would be a good fit for me but “mothers know best” and it was the perfect fit.

Q: What was your Roseman experience like?

A: I had a positive experience as a Roseman student.  The dean, Dr. Mabel Smith, was very supportive and understanding.  She had such a positive impact on me as a student that I could not help but to look up to her.

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of Roseman?

A: The best memory I have was a clinical rotation at the children’s hospital learning how to properly install car seats/restraints.  To this day the staff at the pediatric office where I worked calls me the car seat enforcer.  I would educate parents on the importance of child restraint and explain how blunt impact can affect a child.  It is something that is so important to me.

Q: What would you say to someone considering enrolling at Roseman?

A: Roseman helped me grow and mature into who I am today.  It taught me structure, discipline, and confidence.  Roseman provides you with all the tools that you need to be successful.  The block system is set up for you to succeed.  The 90% pass rate is attainable because you are focusing on one subject at a time.  Roseman University wants you to be successful and their proven model shows that.

Q: How is Roseman and its learning model unique?

A: I truly believe Roseman’s block system is what allowed me to flourish.  Allowing students to focus and master one subject at a time prevents distractions and confusion.  With this model I was able to focus on the importance of all topics that was being taught in the block.

Q: What advice do you give to nursing students?

A: The profession is not for the meek or faint of heart.  You must want to be a nurse to be successful in the program.  The biggest joy that I learned is that nursing is everywhere.  You can find a nurse in schools, insurance plans, hospitals, corporate, academia, and so much more.  You do not work in any one field.  You can choose to work in a variety of settings.  You have so many options and possibilities, but you must work hard.  Do not give up when the course gets hard. Dig deep down and remember why you wanted to be a nurse to get you through.

Q: Why and when did you decide to further your education?

A: I knew that I wanted to further my education while working as a nurse apprentice in the emergency room.  I had the opportunity to work with a nurse practitioner and I enjoyed seeing the impact she made. I wanted to have that impact.  I wanted to be that clinician who provided the treatment plan for a patient, who provided the education.  I wanted more, so much so that I went on to earn my master’s degree in nursing at University of Saint Joseph and ultimately my doctorate in nursing practice at Carlow university.

Q: What positions in the nursing field have you held since you graduated from Roseman?

A: Since graduating from Roseman I have worked with pediatric and adult oncology patients.

Q: What is your role now at Roseman, and why did you decide to return to the University?

A: I am the Graduate Practicum Coordinator in the College of Nursing.  After graduating from Roseman I knew that I wanted to be a part of the learning process for nursing students.  Upon earning my doctorate, I knew that I could accomplish this at the graduate level.  I wanted to be a part of the organization who strives to produce the most successful healthcare professionals.  I wanted to give back to Roseman since the University gave me so much.

Q: How has nursing changed since you were a nursing student?

A: Healthcare is an ever-changing field.  As a nurse one must keep up with data, technology, research, the economy, and so much more.

Q: What are your hobbies, interests, favorite causes or charities, etc?

A: I enjoy learning about new cultures and traveling.  I want to learn and understand their culture and way of life and take a piece of that to add enrichment to my life.

My favorite cause is the leukemia and lymphoma society.  While working as a nurse practitioner I have been privileged to take care of adult malignant hematology patients. When caring for this patient population I witness how involved this organization is in the patients’ lives and I could not help but to support their cause.

Q: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

A: I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of my mother.  She believes in me when I did not believe in myself.  She encourages me when I feel that I cannot go further.  I also have the most supportive sisters that I could ever imagine.  They are always there to help and guide me.  They see my potential and help me cultivate it.  Finally, my family as whole is very supportive and understanding.  Collectively everyone has a played such a vital role in my success that I would not be where I am today without their support.  Thank you!