May was a good month for Cheryl Youker.
Cheryl earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Upstate (graduating summa cum laude) and was one of five recipients of an “Outstanding Student Award” from the Central Counties Professional Nurses Association.
She was nominated for the CCPNA award by Upstate’s College of Nursing faculty for her academic achievement and community service, a passion that translates to action at the state level.
Cheryl has lobbied in Albany to continue funding for school-based health centers, and is advocating for passage of a bill to protect child trafficking victims and prosecute traffickers.
“People think it only happens in third-world countries, but it happens here, too,” Cheryl said. “It’s a very complex issue. It’s always been on my radar.”
With her BSN in hand, Cheryl is continuing her studies in Upstate’s Nurse Practitioner master’s program. “I just love to learn,” she said. “I like new challenges.”
Cheryl isn’t certain where the Nurse Practitioner master’s track will lead, but she wants to be where the action is. One of her goals is to join the Air National Guard and help at disasters like the recent tornado in Moore, Okla.
“I always think, ‘How can I help?’ I don’t just want to send $10, I want to go in, pull people out and stabilize them,” said Cheryl, adding that she doesn’t like to sit still. “I try to make the most of every minute.”
A year ago, Cheryl did exactly that — and saved a life. It was a muggy Friday afternoon, and she had just ended her shift at Crouse Hospital. Cheryl was walking to her car and noticed a group of people gathered around a woman who had fallen on the sidewalk.
The woman had a nasty bump on her head, but it wasn’t until Cheryl went over and moved the hair off the woman’s face that it became clear she was in cardiac arrest.
Cheryl began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and continued it until more help arrived. The woman pulled through. “It’s just something you do as a nurse,” Cheryl said, although that was the first time she had to intervene outside of a clinical environment.
Because she is pursuing her master’s degree part-time while working and raising a family, it likely will be 2016 before Cheryl adds NP after her name.
“As a nurse practitioner, I think I’ll focus on missionary care,” she said, “but there’s so much needed in the U.S., I’ll probably stay stateside.”