magazine-category: Students

Student First

Khailiah Conway

Nursing Major Khalilah Conway, ’22, Finds Success in Classroom and on the Track

Gardner-Webb University student-athlete Khalilah Conway, ’22, of Raleigh, N.C., has two demanding interests.

A sprinter and multi-event competitor on the track and field team, she’s also a student in the Hunt School of Nursing. Her hard work and dedication was recognized in 2021 when she was named to the Big South Track & Field All-Academic Team.

While earning a high GPA in the nursing program, Conway’s season was highlighted by personal records on the track and two first place finishes from the Winthrop Spring Invitational, first place in the women’s 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:05.29, and first place in the women’s high jump by hitting a mark of 1.57 meters.

Khalilah Conway“I’m a student-athlete and student comes first,” Conway asserted. “This past year was my junior year and that’s the hardest year in the nursing program. When we started, my coach was like, ‘This is your junior year, so you have to tell me when sometimes things are too much and you need a break.’”

After practice and weight training, she would study for several hours. “It takes so much time to know the information that you can’t just do it the night before,” she advised. “There’s so much on the line when learning in this career field. You can’t just mess up, because that’s someone’s life.”

Like her approach to studying, Conway was methodical when deciding on a career. She knew she wanted to help people by going into health care and contemplated becoming a pediatrician. However, as she thought about the responsibilities of doctors and nurses, she felt nursing suited her best.

“I care about helping people,” she explained. “Nurses have a much more personable dedication to the patient. You see them so much more often. You are their backbone while they are there (under your care). I knew that I would probably make a bigger impact if I was a nurse.”

Her high school track coach found Gardner-Webb because she told him she wanted to run track at a college with a top-notch nursing program, and decided GWU met all of her expectations. “It had Christian values; I can run and I can still build my career,” she stated. “It really was the perfect place.”

When COVID-19 forced a switch to online learning, students couldn’t train in the physical hospital setting. “I was doing my skill check offs on Minnie Mouses and wash cloths and anything that I could find,” she recalled. Eventually, the nursing students returned to the hospital setting with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and new protocols. “It’s like COVID opened your eyes,” she commented. “Almost like (PPE) was a safe haven, because as long as you were keeping yourself protected, you were keeping other people protected.”

She feels prepared and confident to begin her career. “My teachers care about us,” she commended. “There are those who will put a smile on our faces, pray for us and encourage us to keep on going. I feel like that has also been a big part of me making it.”

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