USF student to walk across stage with father’s memory

Vanessa Rushing, 22, is going to add letters to her name when she graduates from USF’s nursing program this spring.

Ever since she was a little girl, Rushing knew that she was going to become a nurse. Growing up with two older sisters who were also nurses, she never envisioned herself as anything else.

When Rushing was 8-years-old, doctors diagnosed her with familial hypophosphatemic rickets.. Her health caused her to be in and out of Shriners Hospital until she was 18-years-old. Being surrounded by nurses made Rushing’s career path even clearer.

Photo by Kiersten Smay.

Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, she didn’t want to stray too far from home when choosing which college to attend. She put USF high on her list since it is home to one of the best nursing programs in the state.

Rushing joined a sorority on campus during her second semester at USF. Being a member of Gamma Phi Beta helped to create her best memories of college.

“My favorite part about coming to college and coming to USF was definitely joining my sorority, Gamma Phi,” Rushing said. “I met so many amazing women through it. I live with two of my sisters now and great memories are made every day.”

Rushing’s best advice for new students is to get involved as soon as possible.

“You meet a ton of people through getting involved, whether it be from a sorority, a fraternity or any other organization,” Rushing said. “You make connections and form really awesome bonds that way. Your whole college experience from that point on is just 10 times better.”

The friends she had made in her sorority and classes helped Rushing through the hardest time of her life.

“My worst experience at USF was my sophomore year, after my dad passed away,” Rushing said. “It was a really tough semester. I was just applying to the nursing program, so I had all that stress on me at that end. Losing a parent is really hard and really difficult to go through, especially when you’re at such a young age.”

A college student’s nightmare became a reality for Rushing.

“It became harder to keep up my grades,” Rushing said. “He was my biggest support system.”

She didn’t let her dark days keep her from reaching her goals. She became more motivated to make her dad proud of her.

“I feel like I would subconsciously make myself work harder,” Rushing said. “Just to make sure I was doing him justice and make him feel proud.”

Rushing is going to make her dad proud as she walks across the stage in May. She will be taking her exam to become an official registered nurse soon after. Her goal is to work on either the pediatric floor, the emergency room or the pediatric ER.

Her friends who have known her all throughout college are cheering her on. They know Rushing is following the correct career path. Nicole Keesee has been friends with Rushing since their freshman year at USF.

“Vanessa will make an absolutely amazing nurse because of how much she truly cares for other people and how selfless she is,” Keesee said. “She is always putting others before herself and I think that is such an important quality to have when entering the medical field.”