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Over the last three years, Nurture has worked with VCU Health Sciences students who are seeking internships related to their ultimate career goals. We typically ask new interns to write a “passion bio,” i.e. a short writing assignment based on the Life In 10 Minutes guidelines – i.e. write for 10 minutes, edit for 10 minutes, about what passions drew you to this internship. Here is Mikayla’s story. Mikayla will be assisting us with this year’s Birth & Baby Fair and with #RVAbreastfeeds, so you’ll be seeing more of her. Welcome Mikayla!

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in child development. I think high school is when I started babysitting, and the adults around me could see that I truly enjoyed being around children. During my sophomore year, my math teacher recommended I start tutoring kids in elementary school, which led to me volunteering at an educational summer program in my county.

For me, social media opened my eyes to the world of labor and delivery nurses. Of course, there are thousands of cute baby pictures, but I was fascinated with NICU babies and the special care the nurses put into them. Then I saw a NICU patient graduate from the NICU. I could see the joy in the nurses’ faces and how that was a truly happy moment for them. This made me wonder what was it like for my mother since I was a preemie baby. My mother assured me that her experience was the best. And that’s when I made up in my mind I was going to be an NICU nurse. I wanted to learn everything and anything about babies so I can support premature babies and their families in the NICU just how my mother received it.

During my first semester at VCU, I got the opportunity to get my foot in the door at VCU Health. As soon as I saw the NICU as a location to volunteer I was immediately excited. Everything fell into place for me. I volunteered, I shadowed a nurse, and even got the chance to cuddle newborn babies going through drug withdrawals.

It was during my time in the NICU that I realized that nurses work on a team with other healthcare providers to successfully treat patients. I met a social worker who explained the role she plays on the team in the NICU, and how she helps her clients even after they leave the NICU. I wanted to minor in Social Work because I learned that NICU families need support beyond their duration at the hospital.

Fast forward three years and I am a junior taking an Intro to Social Work course. The more knowledge I gained about the resources families need, the more I questioned what I wanted to do. The more I researched, the more questions I had. I know for a fact our phones know what we’re thinking because as I was trying to figure out my career path an ad pops up and it’s for a midwifery graduate program. I usually never pay attention to ads but I was curious and I’m definitely glad I did because the dots were connecting for me. This is when I said to myself “Why intervene when you can prevent?”

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about midwifery, but I thought about what I would want for myself and other women in my life. I think what drives me is knowing African American women have such a high mortality rate during or after birth. I think the best way for me to decrease this number is to educate Black women on their options and the resources they have. This is PERFECT for me: I get to work with babies and provide support to mothers before and after a baby is born. I would consider myself lucky if I can help bring a healthy life into the world and help that life maintain health.

When I was searching for an internship the name Nurture stood out to me. The first thing that came to my mind is nurturing a child. Since the first time I met Leslie Lytle, she has been finding ways to give me a glimpse of what my future holds. I have only been an intern here for a week but within that week I have met people and seen places that I would never expect. I am excited to experience everything that Nurture has to offer and the knowledge I will gain throughout the semester. I feel like this internship will be my stepping stone into the world of midwifery and I can’t wait to see where the connections I make take me.

Me, my mom, grandma and great grandma!!! These three ladies are the source of my strength and determination… 4 generations of love.



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