Danielle Young hides it well with her infectious smile, bubbly personality, and her involvement at Lewis-Clark State College, which includes preparing for her second trip overseas in a year.
It’s hard to imagine that she considers herself more of an introvert, as someone who prefers being secluded at times, and who can still be intimidated by the size of LCSC, despite the small and intimate feeling on campus.
Young was born and raised in Oakesdale, Wash., a tiny farm town between Colfax and Spokane, located a little more than an hour northwest of Lewiston.
“There are about 400 people counting cats and dogs,” Young says. “My high school (Oakesdale High) was small too. My graduating class was seven. So even though LCSC is a small college, it is still very big to me. It was definitely an adjustment period for when I first moved down (to Lewiston).”
Young is in her second year at LCSC and is taking pre-nursing classes. She hopes to be accepted into the nursing program this spring. Young says she chose LCSC because it was far enough away from home, but not too far away.
“I wanted to find a sense of independence and get myself out of my comfort zone, but I didn’t want to be so far away that I put my mom into a frenzy because my brother went to college in California straight out of high school and it threw her for a loop,” she says. “And I knew I wanted to go into nursing too. When I took my CNA courses in high school, my CNA instructor told me about LCSC and how the nursing program down there was booming, and they had a lot of grants for new equipment. It was a really good program.”
Young says an LCSC recruiter visited her high school during her senior year, which is what sealed the deal.
“I don’t know, he just said all the right things,” Young says. “LCSC was far enough away from home that I knew I would be on my own for a little bit, but close enough if there was an emergency my parents could get to me in time so it just seemed like a perfect fit.
“I knew coming from a tiny school that a large university would be too much of a transition. I wasn’t really ready for a culture shock so I thought this was the perfect size college as well, especially because in my high school obviously, with seven kids, there is a very small student-to-teacher ratio. We had a lot of attention from our teachers. And so I really wanted to have that same opportunity. I know a lot of people told me down here that the professors are very good at sitting down 1-on-1 with you, getting to know you, and putting a name to your face.”
Young says the social aspect was the more difficult transition to make. She says she really didn’t know anyone and in most of her freshmen classes, several students already knew each other from their high schools.
“So I had a lot of trouble trying to integrate myself and finding new friends,” she says. “I am very introverted. I think a lot of people are surprised by that just because by how much stuff I get involved in, but I definitely get my energy from being by myself at home so I was pretty secluded my first year. I really didn’t start budding until I got into some more nursing specific classes and found a niche. But it’s been good, and good for me.”
Despite saying that she is good at “mimicking social ques,” Young is definitely a people person. She’s made sure to become involved in campus activities, which has helped her circle of friends to continue to grow.
Among her activities is being a peer mentor. LCSC peer mentors help teach a class that aids new freshmen and transfer students build a foundation for personal success at the college. Peer mentors work closely with students enrolled in the new student orientation class and provide academic, social, and emotional support while also introducing these students to campus resources, policies and procedures.
Along with a part-time job at a florist shop in Lewiston, Young serves as an International Studies Abroad global ambassador. She became an ambassador after she spent a month last summer in Barcelona, Spain, as part of the LCSC Study Abroad program. This spring, she’s planning to take part in the three-week Cultural Anthropology Field School trip to Ecuador. The trip includes stops in three geographic regions of Ecuador so students get to experience the biological and cultural diversity of the country. Students also must complete a research project from the trip.
The trip allows her to practice Spanish, which is her minor.
“Just growing up where I did, there were a lot of parts that I just didn’t enjoy,” Young says. “I’m not really a farm girl, but my whole family is. I always kind of felt like the black sheep growing up. And even when I was little, I was just fascinated with New York City and California. I am much more of a city girl. So when I graduated I said I’ve got to go out and see the rest of the world. There is so much far beyond the wheat fields that surround me. And I love learning about new people and new cultures, and just seeing how other people live their lives.
“When I came to LC, I tried to figure out how I could study abroad and still transfer my nursing credits, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy so that’s why I just did a summer month, because I knew it wouldn’t interfere with any of my nursing courses. But honestly, it’s the best thing I have ever done. I don’t think I will ever forget my experiences I had over there. Just meeting all the new people I did and seeing a different part of the world.”
In Barcelona, Young lived with a host family. She said a typical weekday was studying her Spanish courses from around 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. She would then meet up with other travel abroad students and tour the city, which was followed by a late-night dinner with the host family. She spent weekends sightseeing, which included a trip to Paris.
“That was a breaking moment for me, just realizing that I was capable of a lot more than I thought I was,” she says. “I was capable of flying to a country by myself, planning a trip, being independent and not needing other people as a crutch so much. So I think that broke me out of my introverted habits a little bit.”
The summer also helped her gain a new appreciation for people in her life. She says she has changed her routine to where she is very attentive to dinner conversations and engages with others, rather than being on her cell phone for example.
“You see in other countries how people really care about each other and their day,” she says.
Young has always been a caring person, which is part of what attracted her to nursing. She also saw nursing in a different view when she was on the other side, being a patient in a hospital and seeing the kind of care some nurses provided.
Young was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a hormonal disorder common among younger women. While it’s treatable, and Young says she’s doing better, it can lead to problems such as infertility, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Young says she was about 14 when she was first diagnosed. She was in a hospital and had just completed tests when her parents left to go home and get clothes and other items to bring back. She said a nurse had finished her shift when she checked in on Young.
“She came in and sat down with me,” Young says. “She said ‘I’ve noticed you throughout the day and you look scared’, so she sat and talked with me about what she knew about what I had been diagnosed with, and what it meant for me. She was extremely helpful and compassionate. And I just admired her for that. She didn’t have to come in. She’s off her shift and she’s not being paid for it. But she took time out of her day because she cared. I just remember thinking ‘wow, what an amazing job. It’s an opportunity to meet people, help people in one of the scariest times of their lives.’
“I know as a nurse at times it won’t be so scary, it might just be something minor, but even once in my life if I have the opportunity to do what that nurse did for me that would be amazing. But yeah, I’ve also had some terrible nurses, ones that were not so compassionate, not so thankful for their job. So having that experience as a patient makes me believe that I’ll be able to empathize a little more with patients when I’m a nurse myself. And since I’ve spent so much time in there as a patient, I’ll be very comfortable in that setting.”
Young says her goal is to become a traveling operating room nurse before she eventually settles down, probably somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. She says she had the opportunity to job shadow an OR nurse in high school as she scrubbed in on a total knee replacement surgery.
“I just thought it was one of the most incredible things that I had ever seen with bone dust flying everywhere and the surgeons were playing classical music,” she says. “It was a really fun atmosphere and just watching how they ease patients into surgery and to make them feel calm about what they are going through. I remember thinking I can’t believe they do this every day because this is the most incredible thing. Medicine is very fascinating to me and I think the OR is the most hands-on place possible.”
Being a travel nurse could also help her explore more countries. She says Africa and Greece are two places she wants to see, and adds, laughing, Costa Rica as well because she “absolutely adores sloths” and there is a sloth sanctuary located there.
Although most disagree, Young says she has her sloth days.
“So many people say that I’m high energy,” she says. “I feel I’m high energy when I need to be, but in my lazy days, I’m lazy. I have an app on my phone that tracks my steps and I do have days where I literally take 20 steps total. My parents would tell you on the weekend in high school if I didn’t have any homework or a game or anything, I was in bed the entire day watching Netflix. Sloths sleep 20 hours a day, very much like me when I need that time.”
Young says LC is a great fit for her and she’s thankful she chose to come here.
“I like the sense of community even though it’s a small college,” she says. “And they really tout the sense of community when they are advertising it. I was just worried that I would get lost in the flow of freshmen, that I wouldn’t find my group of friends, and my professors would probably just meet me and then forget about me, but that’s so not true. I’m still kind of friends with my professors that I had from the first semester. They still see me on campus and remember me, and know things about me. I was able to use them as references for when I was going to study abroad. It’s incredible how many people they remember and how they can develop relationships with you. And there is just so many resources here to assure that you don’t slip through the cracks. I think LCSC is built for success.
“I honestly can’t find anything wrong with it. I love it here.”