My 2020 Grad Story: Evolution

Student Sarah Goodman.
Rebecca A. Eckland

This semester, TMCC is celebrating our graduating class of 2020 in a big way. Even though we have postponed our commencement ceremony until the Fall, we are so proud of our graduates who will still earn their degrees when the spring semester ends on May 16.  

This is the first in a series of news stories that demonstrate how our graduates have faced challenges and persevered to complete their degree program. Each student was asked to provide one word for their journey. We are thrilled to begin this series with this year’s Board of Regents’ Scholar, Sarah Goodman, who calls her journey “Evolution.” 

Deciding to Become a Nurse

Nurse volunteers smiling with several young children.

Sarah Goodman completed a medical missionary in South America that reminded her why she wanted to become a nurse.

TMCC Nursing student Sarah Goodman has witnessed a lot of changes during her time at TMCC—changes in the world, but also changes in herself.  What hasn’t changed, though, is her caring and compassionate nature that inspired her to become a nurse. “Growing up, I always loved anything in the medical field. When my mom would go to the doctor to get her blood drawn—I just thought that was so cool,” she said. 

Goodman’s fascination with the medical field settled on nursing when her brother, at the age of 9, was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. “By the time he was diagnosed, his symptoms were pretty severe. The doctors were only with him a half-hour each day.  It was really the nurses who were there for him and administered treatment and care. I realized that my goals aligned with nursing more than going to medical school to become a doctor.” 

As many nursing students will say, the program is as rewarding as it is challenging. Goodman faced her most serious challenges during her second semester in the program when she decided to narrow her focus to only her nursing classes. And while her decision to do so was fueled by good intentions, she remembers the specific challenges she faced as a result: “That semester, I struggled with depression. I was so overwhelmed with all the material we were learning and I lost a lot of balance in my life. I spent so much time studying... I was constantly staying up late studying and reading. I lost sight of doing fun stuff and taking care of the relationships in my life. It got to be a crisis point—it was everything I could do to just get through a class or even a day,” she said. 

Changing Perspectives

Boat traveling down the Amazon at sunset.

Goodman, along with 43 other volunteers, traveled down the Amazon River delivering much-needed medical supplies to villagers.

When summer break arrived, Goodman realized that for her own health and wellbeing that she needed to step back and re-evaluate her approach to her education. “I decided I didn’t want to feel so isolated again,” she said. Luckily, this would be the summer that Goodman participated in a medical missionary program through Baptist International Missions. She was one of 43 volunteers who would treat 865 patients in small fishing villages in an area known as the Amazon’s “Vale do Javari” that rests on the national borders of Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.  

“[This missionary work] reminded me why I went into nursing in the first place,” she said. “I want to help others. The experience was a huge reset button that enabled me to see the bigger purpose in what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it.”  

She also felt connected with her fellow missionaries, who helped her to see the importance of the work they were doing, together. “After only a few days, [the other volunteers] started to feel like family. I’m very introverted, so for me to walk into a group of people and feel so connected... well, that had never happened before. It reminded me that this is the purpose I want to live toward.”

Positive Changes

Building next to jungle trees.

"It was a big perspective-change for me," said Goodman, who remembers visiting several small villages along the Amazon River.

When she returned from South America, Goodman made several changes in her approach to education and to life. “That next semester, I allowed myself to get back into art and writing, I took a kickboxing class and got involved in the ministry again,” she said. Making these changes helped Goodman to achieve a sense of both balance and purpose. “I felt so much happier and more fulfilled with my life,” she said.  

She also reconnected more fully with her spirituality. “My relationship with God really helped me,” she said, citing her life-verse, Jeremiah 29:11, as providing her with the inspiration she needed to continue her journey. 

Since making these changes, she’s also continued to excel academically, but also personally and professionally while remaining true to her quiet, kind nature. When she received news that she was named this year’s Board of Regents’ Scholar, she didn’t tell anyone but her family. But the news got out quickly. 

“I didn’t think anyone knew at school, but when I came to the library on Monday [to work at the circulation desk] my coworkers were holding a cake and cards... and it was special to share that moment with them. It reminded me how much support I truly have, not only from my family at home but also from my work-family.” 

Goodman had planned on taking her state board examinations and getting a new graduate residency right after graduation. However, she has learned her lesson about pushing herself too hard and ignoring what is important in her life. 

Moving forward, Goodman plans to study and take the State Board examination, called the NCLEX.  She is also planning on another medical missionary trip. “I will do another medical missionary—either in the Amazon like before or a longer term position with a small hospital in the Republic of Congo. I am waiting to see how the travel restrictions play out. The goal is to be working by Fall if nothing opens up sooner. I will also be pursuing my bachelor’s by then.” Goodman’s long term goals include obtaining a master’s degree and to become a Nurse Practitioner.


Goodman holds up her stethoscope in the shape of a heart.

“What matters is that you do your best. It’s OK to struggle... it’s just not OK to give up,” she said.

Goodman calls her graduate story “Evolution,” because, she says: “so much change has happened since I started at TMCC. I still remember the first day of class and taking the prerequisites for the nursing program. And the first day of nursing school. It really wasn’t that long ago, but I feel like a different person now.” At the time, Goodman describes herself as a quiet student who felt more comfortable isolating herself and avoiding problems.  “For a long time, I didn’t really address a lot of mental health issues, but nursing school brought them all to a head and made me see the importance of getting help and not isolating myself,” she said. 

Her evolution came from her experiences during that difficult semester and rediscovering her love of helping others in small fishing villages along the Amazon. “Sometimes, it’s easy to think that if you admit you have a problem that you’ve failed. But, you don’t have to be perfect to succeed. What matters is that you do your best. It’s OK to struggle... it’s just not OK to give up.”

Join us in celebrating TMCC’s Class of 2020! Visit TMCC’s Facebook page for live interviews with our graduates, and updates about their incredible journeys.