Inaugural Honor for TMCC Student

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Justine Nakato Image

Justine Nakato, Phi Theta Kappa 2018 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar, Nevada

Nursing student Justine Nakato is pursuing a career where she can dedicate her life to the well-being of others, and more than that, she says that it’s an honor for her to be able to help people.

“The nursing profession is a rewarding profession—it’s not necessarily about you, but most importantly what the patient gets from your care,” she said.

Nakato has been named by the national honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Nevada’s inaugural 2018 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar. With the award, she is receiving a PTK scholarship to continue her nursing studies at Truckee Meadows Community College. There will be 100 Scholars awarded nationally in Workforce and Transfer pathways.

In addition to her classes, Nakato works part time as a caregiver with Right At Home, Reno. She goes into private homes, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals assisting with daily living activities, companionship, safety assurance tasks, and accompanying patients to doctor appointments. The respect she shows her clients is clear.

“I view going into their home as a privilege and I’m very grateful—they allow me to go into their world and help improve what they are not able to do in their present life, but I am also mindful that they used to be able to do it on their own,” Nakato said. “When I see them happy, it’s very rewarding, I’m grateful to be part of that.”

Nakato began her career path by completing her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training, and was accepted into the Maxine S. Jacobs Nursing Program at TMCC. She also graduated with an Associate of Science at TMCC in December, 2017 and attended 2018 Spring Commencement on May 11.

She will explore career options in nursing, although she is thinking about continuing her work with the two special groups that are close to her heart.

“I currently work with the elderly and also worked with people experiencing mental and behavioral challenges,” she said. “I hope to continue working with them.”

A career as a Registered Nurse offers many other specialties, as well.

“The nursing field is very wide and there are many options for students to consider,” she added.

Nurses Are In High Demand

Registered nurses continue to be in demand throughout the U.S.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent growth within nursing jobs between 2012 and 2022—more than most occupations,” according to

The Nevada Career Information System projects a 10-year employment growth rate of 19.4 percent in the state. A high number of annual openings are expected.

Phi Theta Kappa

Nakato is a member of PTK, the honor society for two-year colleges. TMCC’s chapter is Alpha Pi Gamma. Students who have completed at least 12 credits with a GPA of 3.5 or higher are eligible to join the honor society.

The TMCC chapter, Alpha Pi Gamma’s faculty advisor is Resource Librarian Neil Siegel. He encouraged her to apply for the Workforce Pathway Scholar award, helped her begin the application process, and wrote a letter of recommendation. Two other faculty members; Professors Rebecca Porter and Sharif Rumjahn, PhD also wrote recommendations for her application package.

She is grateful for the support and guidance of both her family, and TMCC faculty and staff members.

“My sister El and my family have been very supportive,” she said. “The instructors are helpful and also the tutors. Tutors like Tami for math, Matt for English, and Sharon for pharmacology have been of tremendous help.”

The financial prize that comes with the award is a $1,250 scholarship for educational expenses, to be disbursed by PTK in September.

Looking Forward to An Established Career

Nakato plans to graduate in Spring Semester 2020.

“I want to get to my goal—to achieve that and work as a registered nurse,” she said.

It’s not always easy, and some days start off very early and finish up very late.

“Sometimes it’s hard,” she said. “My mother said that you should never let anyone discourage you from dreaming about your goals, or let anyone stop you from trying. As long as you give it your best, you should run towards your goal.”

For more information about Phi Theta Kappa, call 775-674-7608.