Attitude, aptitude, gratitude

Sinclair School of Nursing graduate Shelby Bass got involved on campus and took advantage of resources. Now she’s embarking on her dream career.

Shelby Bass in front of the School of Nursing building

Dec. 12, 2022
Contact: Deidra Ashley,

Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, Shelby Bass witnessed the important role caregivers play as she watched her godmother, great-grandmother and other family members pass away after long-term health issues. Bass knew she wanted to help others, but she wasn’t quite sure in what capacity.

A class in high school piqued Bass' interest in health care and helped her earn a spot at the Missouri Scholars Academy, the University of Missouri’s annual program for high-achieving high school students. Those experiences confirmed her passion for health care and eventually led her to pursue a degree at the Sinclair School of Nursing.

This week, Bass graduates cum laude with a bachelor’s in nursing and a minor in Spanish.

Deeper appreciation

Most students Bass’ age can tell you what it was like to go to college during the COVID-19 pandemic. They each have stories about the challenges they faced and how professors helped them navigate the unprecedented experience of school on a laptop and office hours via Zoom.

For Bass, though, the pandemic carried an extra level of intensity, awareness and inspiration.

“I saw first-hand nurses at their most vulnerable,” said Bass recalling her clinical rotations during the height of COVID-19. “But whether they were fighting fatigue, supply issues or the stress that comes with misinformation, they would show up to work every day and be ready to do their job.”

Despite the pandemic, Bass got involved at Mizzou. Some of her favorite groups included Finding Your Identity (FYI) in Nursing and KC Scholars. She also served as president of the Delta Tau chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

“My support system was great,” Bass said. “People here are always willing to help you, and it’s OK to reach out if you feel like you're lost or by yourself. You are never alone.”

Giving back

As she prepares for commencement, Bass said one of the greatest lessons she learned in college ties back to the caregiving she witnessed as a child.

“It’s all about empathy,” she said. “It doesn’t take anything to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. As nurses, and as humans, that’s what we’re here for.”

After graduation, Bass will move back to her hometown to work as a nurse on the observation and progressive care unit at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Ultimately, she hopes to work in mental health or as a certified nurse midwife.

As a first-generation college student raised by a single parent and with a supportive family network, Bass has a lot to be thankful for, but she also doesn’t want anyone to think it has been easy.

“You have to work hard and not let anyone get in the way of your path,” Bass said. “You have the support, you just have to be willing to take it.”

Story written by Anissa Lockett

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