Nursing college instills Laker for a Lifetime values in future nurses

GVL / Sara Carte
Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences on Dec. 2.

GVL / Sara Carte Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences on Dec. 2.

Meghan McBrady

To be a Laker for a Lifetime at Grand Valley State University, students and faculty give back to the campus by contributing their talents and time. Even after graduation, students remain active and fully engaged in the GVSU community and install the ideals of Laker pride outside of the university.

By leading by example and encouraging the ideals of engaging in one’s community, the Kirkhof College of Nursing is learning to apply the values of being a Laker for Lifetime initiative into their field and daily lives.

Joy Washburn, associate professor of nursing, implanted the ideals of the initiative into the nursing program in order to help students realize that they are part of something bigger than themselves and to feel connected to the nursing profession and to GVSU.

“I wanted to make the concept of being a Laker for a Lifetime become real and applicable to their lives now and in the future,” Washburn said. “Belonging to a group or community provides a sense of identity, so this provides an opportunity for students to begin to internalize this identity via the Laker Nurse for a Lifetime activities which are built upon the Laker for a Lifetime initiative at GVSU.”

On the first day of her professional nursing class, Washburn implanted the ideals of a Laker Nurse for a Lifetime into classroom discussions. The class focused on connections between the nursing program and GVSU traditions – in that regard, students begin to understand that because they are Laker nurses, they are linked to the graduates of the Kirkhof College of Nursing who came before them as well as graduates who will come after them.

“This initiative provides a tangible link to the bond and to the spirit that each of us, as students, graduates, faculty and staff, have as members of the Laker community,” she said. “Community is not limited to a geographic boundary or a place. It also exists in our hearts, our minds and our spirits as we are connected simply by being members of the Laker tradition.

“Encouraging this sense of community is purposeful as my thought is that the Laker for a Lifetime/Laker Nurse for a Lifetime idea fosters a spirit of camaraderie that is beneficial as we work together, with other professionals, to provide nursing care to people in many different clinical settings. Camaraderie provides a bond of familiarity and rapport that exists because we have a shared experience as students, as graduates, and as members of GVSU and of KCON.”

Besides integrating the ideals of Laker for a Lifetime into professional nursing and into clinical nursing courses and rotations, students are encouraged to share how they are applying Laker Nurse for a Lifetime values into their behaviors, so they may fully begin to view themselves as Laker nurses.

At the end of it all, Washburn is proud of what her students have accomplished so far and that they are purposefully integrating the GVSU initiative and the notion that they are Laker Nurses for a Lifetime into their lives.

“I applaud (my students) for embracing the Laker for a Lifetime initiative and making it a part of who they are and how they want people to see them,” Washburn said.

In a statement released by University Communications, Ally Erickson, a junior nursing student at GVSU, said Washburn’s class ultimately helps students better understand the Laker for a Lifetime initiative and understand the attributes a nursing student wants to have when they begin to work in their field.

For more information about the Kirkhof College of Nursing, visit