2021 Award Winner Shelah Roanhorse from Pensacola, FL
Shelah Roanhorse, RN
Shelah is currently in her final year of service in the Navy where she serves as a Commissioned Officer, Perioperative Nurse. She also conducts education classes for her unit while stationed in Pensacola, FL. During her service in the Navy, she was deployed to Iraq on a team that conducted trauma surgery and medical aid. She said, “we saved people who had battle injuries, treated medical conditions, and helped some locals too – they all were so thankful”. Another privilege is working with many Corpsman (being mostly young adults). She has enthusiastically served as their mentor and expressed that she enjoys the challenge of teaching and the satisfaction of watching those under her leadership learn and grow in to their new roles.
She grew up in a family of 8 children on a reservation in Northern AZ near the border of NM. Her mother was a farm girl from MN and a Nurse. Her father was a Navajo and trained as a Minister and teacher. Their home was constantly abuzz with activity, animals and children from all over the neighborhood.
Shelah attended the University of New Mexico where she received an undergraduate degree in Biology because Initially her plan was to be a doctor. However just a year before starting medical school, her brother Nate, who was in high school, became sick with cancer. At that time, he was living with her and she took care of him when he wasn’t in the hospital. Nate fought cancer for 8 months but eventually passed. As she went through this journey with her brother, Shelah witnessed the dedication and care the Nurses gave him. She admired their knowledge, professionalism, and incredible compassion. She saw how involved his Nurses were with his day-to-day care. They greatly influenced her decision to become a Nurse. Shelah refocused her professional goals and went back to UNM for her Nursing degree. While in school, she worked as a caregiver. Her first jobs as a nurse were at a nursing home and then a Telemetry unit.
She is starting a Family NP program at Northern Arizona University part-time at the end of this month. When her military service is completed, she will be in school full-time. She plans to work on the reservations and underserved communities where she grew up. Her parents are there and “it will be nice to be near them again. I miss them and the desert.” Shelah will use her $5,000 Education Award toward her tuition. Her goal is to be a FNP with a focus on Family Practice and wishes to also conduct acupuncture as well.
Shelah, we wish you all the best in your endeavors. Congratulations!