Hayley Woods has faced some big obstacles in her young life, but she has faced them head on, climbed over them and has kept her eyes on the prize.
Hayley’s prize is an RN degree from Northwest Florida State College. The 2014 graduate of Fort Walton Beach High School is a recipient of the Air Force Association/Jim Shambo Scholarship and is most likely making the donors proud with her 3.81 grade point average. Being accepted into the highly competitive nursing class was a crowning achievement for her. “Being accepted (into the class) is such a huge deal and I am so happy and excited,” Woods said with a smile.
One of the most challenging obstacles she has faced is living life with a portion of her heart missing. “I have had three open-heart surgeries and grew up knowing my physical limitations. I couldn’t do a lot of exercise or participate in sports like other kids, so I knew I would have to concentrate on other extra-curricular activities,” she said.
One of those “other extra-curricular activities” has been serving as a Raider Rep Student Ambassador. Her duties as a Raider Rep include giving tours to students and parents considering NWFSC as a college destination. “While giving tours, I have met so many students from all over the country and even a few international students. It’s a fun experience and I have really enjoyed my time as representative of the college,” she noted.
In addition to her busy classroom and Raider Rep schedule, Hayley also is heavily involved in the Military Order of World Wars (MOWW) Leadership Program open to high school juniors. She was the Distinguished Graduate in her 2013 class and has been called back to serve as an Assistant Program Coordinator each summer since. This year, she will assist at conferences held at FSU and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). “The MOWW says the Leadership program ‘breeds leaders’ ”, she said, “and I know first-hand how rigorous and exhausting, yet fulfilling, the program can be for students who are serious about enhancing their leadership qualities and learning more about what it takes to be a real leader,” she said.
As a student, Hayley especially enjoyed biology classes with Dr. Patrick McArthur. “Dr. McArthur’s teaching style is very engaging. It’s evident he’s passionate about his subject, and students can’t help but feel the same way. He helped me so much as I was preparing for to take the HESI nursing entrance exam. He encouraged me and told me to have confidence in my abilities and my knowledge.”
The abilities and knowledge she talks about are essential as she begins NWFSC’s nursing program. Knowing it will be difficult isn’t a deterrent. She’s lived with difficulties and knows what it takes to surmount them, so her goal of an RN degree and a career as a pediatric nurse are well within her reach.