Isabella Taft graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Western Carolina University in May 2021. She graduated with honors and accepted a position as an Intensive Care Nurse starting in July. She shared that completing nursing school during COVID was not easy, but in the same vein of resilience as so many No Greater Sacrifice scholars, Isabella thrived. Due to being in a rural area, most hospitals were not accepting students, so she had to drive further to complete her clinical hours. With the transition to online classes, she had to take her hotspot to a parkway and complete her classes outside.
While in college she was able to work six shifts at Wake Baptist/Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While there she worked in the neurology ICU, interventional cardiology, burn ICU, general pediatrics, general adolescents, and pediatric hematology/oncology. She says, “Even though COVID19 changed a lot, I am very grateful that I was able to put my scrubs back on and get back to doing what I love!” She has been assisting in COVID-19 vaccinations and has administered about 250 since January 2021. While in college Isabella also had the opportunity to participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band.
Isabella became inspired to work as a nurse after attending events for pediatric hospice where her mother worked. She was no stranger to children without hair, with tubes going in and out of their bodies, and wheelchairs were just another extension of play. During this time she met a special friend who, due to her illness, could not talk or walk. The child would use her mouth to blow bubbles when she was excited, and through those bubbles and Isabella’s young mind, she learned that the children in pediatric hospice care were just that - children.
She developed the ability to look past the tubes, wires and blue skin, and began to see playmates and create wild adventures. They dressed up for Halloween and skated in wheelchairs, and it is these memories that created a desire for Isabella to become a pediatric care nurse and work with critically ill children.
Her dream is to work at a hospital like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where she can bring these memories to the families in her care and allow them to see past the illness and remember that they are children. Isabella says, “My hope is that one day a family will be able to have happy memories throughout a dark time because their nurse never lost sight of the purpose of being a child and a family.
During her dad’s multiple deployments, Isabella watched her mom work hard to finish a graduate degree and maintain a house, all while working full time. She noticed how her mom never waivered or complained, but simply kept moving forward. Isabella says she learned from her mother that hard work will get her anywhere she desires.
Her dad’s deployment cycles taught her the value of doing something you are passionate about. While her dad was deployed her mom always found a way for them to give back to her community, and both parents always made sure that they were firmly planted in the community. Whether it was volunteering at church or taking time to sit with a neighbor, community service has always been a way for her family to be a part of where they live.
Isabella says that the final impact on her decision to pursue the medical field was her father. Navy Hospital Corpsman Ward Taft, received multiple blast injuries during his six combat tours. The final injury was when his vehicle was hit by another vehicle during an IED blast and he was thrown through the windshield. He loved medicine and as Isabella got older the two would have in-depth conversations about how the body worked. They would stay up late debating new medical findings and he would share some of what he saw while deployed. When he was injured, he lost the ability to practice medicine as he was no longer able to quickly make life and death decisions. He had to give up on his dream of becoming a trauma Physician’s Assistant. Despite various changes in her father because of his injuries, his ability to talk medicine is still a large connecting force.
Isabella feels that by following her dreams she is able to also keep her father engaged in the world he was once a part of and loved. She is excited to continue sharing with him through the world of medicine and says, “While we have not shared the combat boots he once wore, I feel as if I am able to pick up his pack and now wear the boots that he once stood in and carry on his legacy of outstanding care.”
To No Greater Sacrifice donors, Isabella says, “Thank you does not even begin to cover my appreciation! Without the No Greater Sacrifice scholarship, I would not have been able to experience things such as attending the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or making lifelong friends, as a Sigma Alpha Omega sister. It is because of the No Greater Sacrifice Scholarship, that I have been able to focus on my education and being successful in the nursing program, without the worry of how I was going to pay for everything that comes with nursing school. Thank you for helping make this possible and thank you to the entire No Greater Sacrifice family for supporting me through my journey!”
NGS would also like to thank the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund in supporting Isabella and helping her reach her dreams.