Chancellor Medallion Recipient: Meet PNW Graduate Nikoletta Kyriakakis
Nikoletta Kyriakakis, ’22, was filled with emotion when she received word that she was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Medallion. She earned a bachelor’s of science degree in Nursing from Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) College of Nursing with a minor in Psychology.
The Munster native started at PNW certain she wanted to be a nurse, but also a bit intimidated and uncertain as she would be returning to school after ten years. As a single mother with a full-time job, attending college may have been difficult at times, but she was determined to not give up and to set an example for her daughter. The fact she received the Chancellor’s Medallion, which is presented to graduates who receive the highest grade point average in each academic college, was not lost on her. Kyriakakis was a member of the Nursing Club during her time at PNW.
After graduation, Kyriakakis will be starting her career as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She eventually hopes to become involved in policy-making to ensure the accessibility of quality health care for all communities.
Why did you choose to attend PNW?
“PNW has a really wonderful reputation. I wanted to go somewhere that was going to provide me with a solid educational foundation for going into the health care field. Also, when I researched the nursing program, I found it had a really high pass rate in board certification.”
What did you like most about PNW?
“The professors! They were so supportive, approachable and very passionate about teaching. They set a great example for those of us going into the health care field.
Getting practical, hands-on experience through clinicals and actually working with patients was the best part. The very first day of clinicals, I left feeling excited and good about the decision I made to go into nursing.”
How did you come to choose nursing with a minor in psychology?
“I wanted to do something meaningful and the morals, philosophies and the job of nursing aligned with my personal values. Being a nurse and helping people in their most vulnerable time is a great way to do something meaningful.
An important part of working with people is understanding them, especially in the health care field. I thought psychology would be a great supplement to nursing and give me insight into people so I can offer the best care and compassion to patients and their families.”
Did you have a pivotal experience while attending PNW?
“During clinicals, I was in the intensive care unit as a patient was being tested for brain death. As a nursing student, you sometimes feel a little useless or in the way and you look for ways to help. The patient’s mother was in the room and I put my hand on her shoulder and offered her a box of tissues. I didn’t do anything technically as a nurse. At the end of the day, the mother thanked me for just being there and told me it meant a lot to her.
It was a pivotal moment as it made me realize that while I might feel like I’m not doing anything to help, I’m still making an impact. Offering comfort and support during a difficult time was important and something I always want to remember in my career.”
What words of advice would you share with prospective students looking to attend PNW?
“Ask questions if you’re unsure. Use the resources available — there are many. Just keep pushing through because you’re going to be so proud of yourself once you’re done.”
Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?
Hassan Naji, Ph.D., Lecturer, Biology and Health Studies
“One professor that stands out is Hassan Naji. His classes are some of the more difficult foundation classes for nursing. The way he taught and explained everything so thoroughly, along with the light-heartedness he brought to class made his courses fun and interesting. It gave me the boost of confidence I needed to know I could make it through the nursing program.”