“I knew that I wanted to turn around and invest into the community because the community invested in me,” said Sara Greenwood, recipient of Northland Pioneer College’s Spring 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award. Nominated for her outstanding service and work in the medical profession, Greenwood has been able to give back to the community by helping save lives in local hospitals and train future nurses from NPC.
Her interest in the medical field started early as Greenwood was influenced by one of her favorite TV shows growing up. “I remember that my family had an older TV, you know, with the antenna and 13 channels, and so really all I could watch was ‘MASH’ when I was a kid. ‘MASH’ was so medically oriented and I think that’s what put the seed in my brain of what I wanted to do.”
Growing up in Holbrook, Greenwood’s family had a passion for restoring cars. Greenwood credits the project of restoring a ’55 Chevy as what kept her out of trouble and focused on keeping up with her studies. Greenwood graduated from Holbrook High School and made staying local and avoiding debt her top priorities in deciding which college to attend. After finding the Nursing program at NPC, Greenwood was ready to fulfill her childhood dream and enter into the medical field.
She completed much of her coursework at the NPC campus in Winslow, and was also able to work in a variety of environments and situations as she completed the NPC Nursing Program. “I did a lot of my clinicals at Flagstaff Medical Center,” explains Greenwood, “I really got a well-rounded education as I even did clinicals at the prison. When we worked there, we got a really good understanding of what Public Health can be.”
As she strived to complete her training at NPC, Greenwood is thankful for the advisers and instructors that helped motivate her to finish. “I had great advisers at NPC and (professor) Nancy Williams was probably my favorite. I really related to her success and her teaching was a great example to me.”
to Sara Greenwood.
After she graduated from NPC, Greenwood decided to support her husband and move to where his job needed him to be. Her husband works for the railroad, so Greenwood found herself moving to different locations, but was able to put her credentials to good use. Greenwood was accepted to every medical facility where she applied and worked at various locations throughout Arizona and Wyoming, including many facilities in the Phoenix area such as Scottsdale Osborn and Good Samaritan.
After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Grand Canyon University and with more work experience, Greenwood was asked to become an instructor of clinicals at Flagstaff Medical Center, educating NPC students to become nurses.
Peg Erdman, dean of nursing and allied health programs, nominated Greenwood and credited her as being a great example of “growing our own.” Greenwood said, “Sometimes you see other instructors being more concerned about their career or their future, but I have this invested interest in the local students and a love for the community there.” In thinking of her time teaching at NPC, Greenwood again reflected back to when Nancy Williams influenced her. “I really wanted to invest in the students and the community just like Nancy Williams. I wanted to be like her-the instructor that really helped others.”
Greenwood in particular, enjoyed the style of training that’s found at NPC. “At NPC, I was able to help in giving the ‘meat and potatoes’ of nursing. Some programs focus more on nursing theory, but NPC really helped nurses know the fundamentals of being a nurse. The students were prepared, they knew the fundamentals and were ready to have patients in their care.”
While Greenwood enjoyed being an educator, she found herself desiring to return to what she first loved and went back to being a staff nurse. Greenwood currently works in the ER at Summit Healthcare in Show Low. Explaining her decision to transition from being an instructor back to being a nurse, Greenwood said “a nursing degree can take you into a variety of things, like being an educator or being in management, but I studied nursing to become a nurse. I’m sure I’ll probably deviate now and again in the future, but right now it’s so nice taking care of patients and it’s something I really enjoy.”
Now that her family has settled in Show Low, Greenwood doesn’t see her family relocating anytime soon. When asked about lessons learned or advice for others Greenwood states that “generally any worthy endeavor takes time and it always takes one step at a time. I think some people get frustrated and want success to happen overnight. I look back at when I was going to NPC and realize that I was able to work and pay in cash for my school and left without any debt. That means a lot to me.... I now realize that taking the little steps at NPC really helped prepare me for my whole career.”
As NPC’s Spring 2014 Outstanding Alumnus she receives a plaque, transferrable 3-credit tuition gift certificate and mementos from the college.
The Outstanding Alumnus program honors former NPC students who are dedicated to giving back to their communities and show dedication to lifelong learning. Nominate an individual online.
Northland Pioneer College serves the residents of Navajo and Apache counties through four regional campuses and five centers with a variety of educational options for academic, career and technical and personal enrichment. NPC supports each student’s educational goals through affordable tuition, small class sizes and caring, professional instructors. For more information about NPC programs and services, call (800) 266-7845.
– – – N P C – Expanding Minds • Transforming Lives – – –