Campus Life

Texas A&M Celebrates Aggie Nurses

Leading up to National Nurses Week May 6-12, School of Nursing students and faculty share what nursing means to them.
By Erin Gregg, Texas A&M University School of Nursing May 5, 2023

an Aggie nurse tending to a patient


As National Nurses Week approaches, Texas A&M University recognizes our Aggie nurses.

The contributions of nursing professionals were first officially recognized in 1974 when the International Council of Nurses declared May 12 as International Nurses Day. The celebration was later extended to a week and in 1994, National Nurses Week was established, beginning each year on May 6 and ending on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Students, faculty and staff from the Texas A&M University School of Nursing are celebrating by sharing their nursing journeys:

Muna BhattaraiDr. Muna Bhattarai
Assistant Professor

“I was service-oriented and wanted to make a positive change in people’s lives in a meaningful way. However, I did not know which profession I was passionate about until I got to observe two nurses taking care of my grandmother, who was hospitalized due to myocardial infarction.

“Seeing their compassionate care, I decided to become a nurse and provide warm-hearted care to people, healing from various health problems. For me, the essence of nursing is compassionate care to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Bringing a smile to a person I care for is the most precious incentive for me as a nurse.”

Matthew Faldyn ‘23
Nursing student
Katy, TexasMatthew Faldyn '23

“I have always been a lifelong learner. As I enter the nursing profession, the opportunities to learn, explore, and develop the depth of knowledge required to provide high-quality patient care captivates me. To then be able to apply that knowledge to help better the lives of patients and their families is immensely rewarding and underscores my passion for the nursing profession.

“Nursing combines two of my life’s passions; my fascination for science and serving others. In my previous career as an ecologist, I gained invaluable experience performing scientific research, and as a former educator I realized my love for helping people develop into the best versions of themselves. However, I continually found myself fascinated by the science of health care and wanted to pursue a career that still allowed me to deeply serve and connect with others. Studying nursing allows me to combine these two passions to empower patients and families during their most vulnerable and trying times.”

Kaitlyn Finney ‘24
Nursing student
Taylor, Texas

Kaitlyn Finney ‘24“As I enter the nursing profession, I am most excited about finally being ‘the nurse’ and not just “the student nurse.” I have been pursuing nursing for a long time now, and I know that as I become a practicing nurse (soon enough), this journey will look a lot different. With this change of roles, I am excited to be able to care for patients confidently and independently.

“I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to study nursing and am eager to put my time spent learning how to be a nurse into practice. I have always wanted to study nursing because I knew that I wanted to be in a career where I could practically love and serve others every day. We spend so much time working in our lives, so I wanted to do work that was good and meaningful to others– which nursing is. Coming alongside people to care for them when they most need help is a sweet opportunity that I will not take for granted.”

Darla Gruben
Clinical Assistant Professor

Darla Gruben“I decided to become a nurse for three reasons. In 1984, I had to have surgery. The nurses came into my room; they had to do a procedure; they did not explain what they were going to do. I said to myself then I could do better if I was ever a nurse. In 1990, my papaw had been sick for weeks on the sofa. I knew nothing about communication techniques, but I got down on my knees, grabbed his hand, and through my tears, I said, papaw, it is time for you to go to the doctor. He said I think you are right; go get my hat. I was the family hero. My aunt, who was retired from the military, told me she would pay for my nursing school. I had a gift, and she said nursing would pave my way in life. In 1991, I was sitting in a plant biology class at Tarleton State University, and my professor was telling the class about some of the medications made from plants; I thought, wow, that is so cool. Then she said doctors and nurses need to know these things to know what happens to their patients when they take these medications. I walked across campus that very day to the nursing administration building and told them I needed to make an appointment with someone to discuss how to become a nurse. The rest is history.

“Nursing means you get on the level with your patients, eye to eye, and you let them know you care. You speak in a way that is kind and compassionate but sincere. You cry if you need to cry. You hold their hand to show them how much you care. You demonstrate your hero competence, so when you speak and act, your patients will listen and know you care about them. Nursing is caring. Nursing means to me that I know cool things! I understand how medications work in the body; I know how the body functions, and when a patient has a pathological problem, I use my clinical judgment to know what nursing actions to take to improve that patient’s outcomes. Nursing is healing.”

Martha HareDr. Martha Hare
Clinical Assistant Professor

“I decided to become a nurse when I was a little girl—my mom and her sisters, my aunts, were all nurses. I always knew I would work in the medical field.

Nursing, in just a few brief words, means an opportunity to help others. My second description of nursing is ‘adventure’—you can always pursue a different path in nursing. I have worked in critical care, both adult and pediatric ICU, operating room, hospital nursing education, medical legal nursing, oncology nursing, nurse practitioner in rural communities and academic nursing education. Nursing is never boring.”

Lila Pena ’26
Doctor of Nursing Practice Student
Los Fresnos, Texas

Lila Pena ’26“I’ve been a nurse for the past 23 years and the first in my family to graduate as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I set a personal goal to return for my doctoral degree to reach the highest level of education in nursing. By earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, I hope to become an influential leader in nursing and health care.

“Once I discovered that Texas A&M was offering a DNP program, there was no hesitation in applying. I have longed to become an Aggie after having married into a family who has a long legacy with Texas A&M. I have had an incredibly positive experience thus far with an abundance of support from the School of Nursing faculty.”

Learn more about the students, faculty and staff at the School of Nursing at

Media contact: Tim Gerszewski,

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