Hayley Bennett Interested in science, as well as naturally empathetic and effective in relating to those in need, Hayley Bennett seemed destined for a career in health care.

At first, she thought she’d major in neuroscience, and one day help create new treatments for neurological disorders. But once on that path, she discovered she was missing the interpersonal connections. Scientific research alone wasn’t going to be enough.

So, Hayley transferred to Sage, to study nursing, because in the nurse’s role she’d be close to patients, getting to know them, and helping to brighten their days whenever she could. Her ultimate goal, then and now, was to become a registered nurse, and eventually a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Hayley sees a real need for more mental health professionals who are fighting for their patients, to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and to educate leaders about the important mental health issues that need their support and attention.

It was her interest in making a difference that made Hayley such a good fit with Russell Sage College’s approach to general education, which emphasizes community-engaged learning. For one of her assignments, Hayley helped to provide refugee support services at a local health clinic, which included tutoring refugees on the English language.

She says that experience made a solid connection with the nursing skills she’s learning. It provided her with an in-depth understanding of the support services and medical care necessary when caring for refugee and immigrant communities. She applies these insights when providing care to patients during her Sage nursing clinicals.

The experience with the refugee community also made an impact on how Hayley sees her own life.

“It was eye-opening for me,” she says. “I walked away some days thinking that even on the hardest days of my life, it’s not even close to the challenges some people face. It made me appreciate what I have, and made me want to give a full 100 percent effort to what I’m doing, to take advantage of the possibilities I have in life.”

Through her clinical experiences, Hayley has been developing an increasing admiration for nurses. The pace they keep up, the way they juggle so many different tasks and responsibilities, leaves her in awe. She’s also been impressed by her professors. “They’re so genuine. It’s not so much about, ‘You need to pass your boards,’ as it is, ‘You need to learn what a nurse truly is.’”

Hayley’s mother is a nurse, and Haley has come to appreciate her in new ways. “I said to her once, I didn’t know you did all this!”

Imagine the pleasure her mother felt hearing that.