In mid-March 2020, as the health care community and country struggled to come up with ways to control and contain an unprecedented pandemic, Jaymalisa Whatley (BSN ’19) teleconferenced with the LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing’s Senior II class from her post in Washington, the hardest-hit state at the time. Now a medical oncology ICU Nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center, Whatley shared information and insights about COVID-19.
As a teenager, Whatley couldn’t have imagined her current role – as a nurse who regularly helps save and improve patients’ lives and as a valuable health information resource for students at her alma mater.
When she was in eighth grade, she recalls an assignment to go home and talk to her parents about what she wanted to be when she grew up. At the time, “the best we could come up with was something in the hospitality industry,” she says.
Mom Latina Whatley says she always knew her daughter had the potential to do great things, but the family didn’t have the money or resources to pay for the education it would require.
It turned out what Whatley needed most was a little inspiration. An encouraging high school teacher supported her interest in the health care industry, and specifically nursing. She showed Whatley that education was the way forward and that, with enough passion and willingness to put in the hard work, she could reach her potential. Whatley has taken the reins of her own success story ever since.
As a junior, she penned the winning entry in the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) and Nurse.com 17th Annual Essay Contest with a piece about the NSNA’s resolution “In Support of Advocacy for Policies Supporting Affordable Health Coverage and Quality Care.”
Now working full-time in a career she loves, Whatley is helping inspire other Louisianans to realize their own career aspirations through diligence and hard work.
At the Louisiana Association of Student Nurses 2018 Student Nurse Convention, Whatley won the “Louisiana Student Nurse of the Year” award and scholarship and had her resolution passed regarding diversity in nursing. At her May 2019 graduation, she received the Chancellor’s Award.
Now working full-time in a career she loves, Whatley is helping inspire other Louisianans to realize their own career aspirations through diligence and hard work – even though she works three time zones way from her home state. To aggressively move Louisiana forward, the Board of Regents recently unveiled a new attainment goal that calls for 60% of all working-age adults in Louisiana to hold a degree or high-value credential by 2030. They featured Whatley in their campaign video, as an example of the incredible rewards of supporting and developing local talent.
“The state needs you and your talent, and it is our responsibility to develop that talent,” Whatley says.
Learn how Whatley overcame challenges that once seemed insurmountable to follow her passion for patient care: masterplan.regents.la.gov