Growing up in rural Colorado, junior Gavin Arneson knew he wanted something completely different for his college experience. “I grew up in a small mining town. My family used to chop firewood to heat our house. Our water pipes would freeze all winter long. And my closest neighbor lived miles away,” he says. “I wanted to attend a university that would challenge my conception of the world I lived in and broaden my perspective. And I wanted to be somewhere that is on the cutting edge of research, art, and culture.” At the Rory Meyers College of Nursing, he found exactly that. He also found an unforgettable community of professors and peers.
A Curriculum That Creates Connections
“Coming from a high school of 200 students, I thought I would lose a sense of community at a school of 50,000,” says Gavin. “Instead, I found a new community of professors, peers, and mentors. They are excited about us and our development as both people and students. They take time to invest in you, check on you, and connect you with opportunities you wouldn’t even know existed.”
At Meyers the program’s unique curriculum deepens this sense of connection to the wider NYU community. Designed to give nursing students a liberal arts background, it helps them build vital, lifelong critical thinking and communication skills. “We spend our first two years rubbing elbows with students in different majors and disciplines. This encourages us to engage with ideas beyond the nursing curriculum,” says Gavin. “I grew tremendously as a person and thinker during those two years. I also became aware of the powerful role nurses can play in all different lines of professional work.”
Research with a Political Impact
Though his hometown in Colorado is a very different community than the one he found in New York City, Gavin discovered a way to connect the two in his work. “I was the first Nursing major at NYU to receive the Brademas fellowship. It’s a program that combines an internship in Washington, DC, with a research project,” he says. “I interned in Congress for my hometown congresswoman, Diana DeGette. While there, I asked DeGette’s health policy director if she needed someone to conduct research that would benefit the team.”
His bold willingness to pitch in paid off. The health policy director was working on a bill for drug pricing and needed more information on how exactly prices are set. “Relying on a combination of background research and congressional testimony, I was able to carry out the project. Ultimately, I submitted a report that helped lead to the introduction of a bill that will reduce the costs of insulin.”
By helping DeGette’s team introduce this bill, Gavin not only brought his two communities together but also became an example of the many ways health care can be applied beyond the walls of a hospital—to fields and industries across the globe.