Kaelan Woodall (R) with her mother. (WRDW-TV)
News 12 at 11 / Thursday, October 25, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As a senior nursing student at GHSU, Kaelan Woodall is well on her way to becoming an RN, but she had to become a nurse long before school because her first patient was her own mother.
"At the time there were no other family members that could help take care of her, so I would be the one to drive her to doctors' appointments and bring her home from surgeries, and she also had the regular surgical dressings that had to be changed and I kinda had to get over my squeamishness," Woodall said.
The love of a daughter and the need of a nurse, combined to spark a passion in then-15-year-old Woodall, never realizing that her mother's journey with breast cancer would change her journey, too.
"Before that, my biggest goal was what am I gonna do Friday night after the football game and cheering? And then, when all that happened, I realized soon that this was my calling, and there was a higher power that was pushing me towards this," Woodall said.
So at 16 years old, Woodall dropped out of high school, got a GED and started college.
And that was just the beginning of her success.
This past June, the 21-year-old was chosen as one of only 111 students nationwide -- and the only person from Georgia -- to do an externship at the highly respected Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
"She was the first Augusta student to participate, so she was more than deserving, and we're very proud of how she represented us this summer," said BSN Program Director and Assistant Professor Rebecca Rule.
"Here I am, five years later, pursuing my dream, going to one of the best hospitals in the country, when not too long ago some would have considered me a high school drop out," Woodall said.
But Woodall says she's always had the support of her first patient.
"She's told me before that all the bad things that happened to her, if it can just help me save one person, then it will be worth it. At the end of the day, you want to feel like you've made a difference in somebody's life," Woodall said.
"She is touching faculties' lives, she is touching her classmates' lives, she is touching her patients and her family's lives, and I think this is not going to be the last that we've heard of her," Rule said.
Woodall has already gotten a job offer from the Mayo Clinic after she graduates.
While she's still figuring out what she wants to do, she's happy to report that her mother is doing very well. She has been in remission for almost four years now.
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