When someone asks me “why do you want to be a nurse?”, I have a response ready: “The human body interests me, I like helping people, and it’s a good career field.” That’s the simplified version. In reality, there’s more to it. Certain life experiences have, over many years, pushed and pulled me towards nursing. Here’s that story.

When I was a kid, my mom and I delivered Meals-on-Wheels to elderly folks in Sweet Home. She always made time to talk with the clients. Many had health issues, and I still remember the first time I saw someone hooked up to oxygen. Later in childhood, I helped my mom at a women’s shelter. Both experiences felt strange at the time, and I didn’t understand their significance. Looking back now, I realize that I was learning the value of helping others and giving back to your community.

In high school, my world changed when I studied abroad in Germany for a year. I struggled to grasp the language, fit in socially, and even complete simple tasks like signing up for after-school activities. I was a complete outsider.

This time, I was the one who needed help! I was able to lean on my host-family and German friends for that support; I ended up having a great year, learning the language, and developing more faith in people, as well a healthy sense of humility.   

After college, I completed two years of AmeriCorps, a national service program. My first year, I wrote grants for a central Oregon nonprofit that employed youth to work on public lands. My second year, I worked at the Columbia Gorge housing authority, connecting lower-income residents with community services. Those AmeriCorps placements brought me into contact with Oregonians from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and had the effect of reinforcing my community service ethic. I became convinced that helping people stay healthy and access quality healthcare was the right line of work for me. Nursing seemed worth looking into.

I knew nurses do great work, but I didn’t have a good understanding of the career path or personally know any nurses. That changed in 2015 while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Along the way, I talked to numerous hikers who were nurses by profession. Truly, every nurse I spoke with was happy with their job, excited by the different types of nursing opportunities, and believed nursing had helped them become a better person. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, on a personal level, inspired me to believe in myself more and gave me extra confidence to begin working in healthcare.


I’ve been working at the Oregon Veteran’s Home in Lebanon as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for a little over a year and a half. My time as a CNA has been positive and confirmed that I’m in the right field. I enjoy the organization, the work, and serving veterans who have given our country so much.

In short, I want to be a nurse to help people; to not only help people get well, but also empower them to maintain and improve their health. On top of that, I know that nursing will enhance my own life. Nursing will make me a better version of myself, an asset to my family, friends, and community. Figuring out I want to be a nurse didn’t happen overnight; on the contrary, it’s been an ongoing process my whole life.




Ben Schmidt is a first-year nursing student in the charter class at Linn-Benton's Community College health occupations center.