Darrah Hulva '14 has taken a unique path to becoming a Master's Entry into Nursing Practice (MENP) candidate at Millikin University. A local product from Decatur, Ill., Hulva started her academic career at Millikin in 2010. She started as a nursing major and was very involved in campus activities as a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
"I changed my major to communication with a minor in entrepreneurship and graduated from Millikin in 2014," Hulva said. "I left Decatur for a year and was hired by Pi Beta Phi as a leadership development consultant. I traveled the country and helped develop a new Pi Beta Phi Chapter at the University of Tampa."
After a year away from Decatur, Hulva knew nursing was the route she wanted to take in terms of a career and came back to Millikin in July 2015. Hulva met with Dr. Mary Jane Linton '70, Millikin professor of nursing, who convinced Hulva to enroll in the Master's Entry track.
Millikin's MENP track is designed for students who already hold a non-nursing bachelor's degree and are interested in entering the nursing field. The track consists of a fast-paced curriculum provided in the classroom and clinical and practical settings five days a week for 30 continuous months. Hulva is on course to graduate in December 2017.
"Darrah has taken on the leadership and organizer roles in class," Dr. Linton says. "Everyone looks to her because she's a good leader. She wants to help people, and she wants to help not only in the hospital but she wants to make a difference in the community."
When asked about the moment she wanted to go into nursing, Hulva says she "was a member of the Youth Leadership Institute in Decatur during my junior year of high school. We had an opportunity to visit Decatur Memorial Hospital and I watched a live birth. Since that day I've developed a passion for wanting to care for patients. I know it's a good career choice."
She wants to help people, and she wants to help not only in the hospital but she wants to make a difference in the community.
Hulva had to put extra time in for studying when she began the program. She credits her undergraduate studies at Millikin for preparing her to take on the challenges of the MENP track.
"I had the tools under my belt to be able to go back and do the research," Hulva said. "I know I have the support and resources to always find an answer."
Dr. Linton noted, "Darrah has excelled since she started and she is excellent with patient care. During her second day of clinical care, she recognized that a patient needed to be admitted to the intensive care unit. If she has a patient, she goes above and beyond to know the patient's history and does all the preparation thoroughly."
Along with finding her niche in nursing, Hulva has made an impact in the Decatur community ever since returning to her hometown. When she moved back, Hulva took on the role of alumni club president for Pi Beta Phi of Decatur. She is also a member of the Junior Welfare Association which is a service organization that provides grants to different organizations that can't find funding. Hulva was recently slated for the Junior Welfare Association Executive Board and will serve as vice president of communication in the next year. She is also the youngest member on the Millikin Alumni Association Board.
"It's important to me to find ways to connect the young alumni back to Millikin," Hulva said. "It's been fun working with the other members of the board to mix our ideas."
In terms of the future, Hulva wants to gain experience working as a nurse, but the idea of becoming a nurse practitioner is a possibility.
"If I have the opportunity to do a nurse practitioner program, that would definitely be in the future," Hulva said. "There are a lot of opportunities at the local hospitals to get jobs and thrive."
Hulva noted, "I'm not afraid to try something new. Millikin is a complete learning ground and even if you try something new and fail, people will pick you back up and get you back on the path that you need to be on. I'm not afraid to go outside my comfort zone."