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Nursing Graduate Meisha Bray is Finlandia University 2010 Valedictorian

Meisha BrayHANCOCK, MI - Finlandia University Class of 2010 valedictorian Meisha Bray knew nursing was the right career choice following her first clinical experience in a hospital emergency room.  "It was exciting and always changing. I didn't want to leave after my clinical day was done," she explains.

She is also following a family tradition. Meisha was encouraged by her grandmother, mother, two maternal aunts, and a sister, all of them nurses.

Meisha graduates this spring with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). She will deliver a speech at Sunday, May 2, Finlandia University Commencement exercises, which are held at the university's Paavo Nurmi Center.

Meisha attributes much of her academic success to the years of practice attending other universities. Meisha also has a bachelor of arts in history from University of Tampa, Florida, and a bachelor of science in anthropology from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich.

"Finlandia's small school feeling makes you feel like your professors and other faculty members know you," Meisha notes. "What I liked best here was that my professors wanted to see me succeed, and that the support was there to help me succeed."

She adds that all of the professors she interacted with at Finlandia were helpful in getting her through the unique challenges that their classes provided. She says she especially appreciated the advice and help she received from her advisor, Johnna Therrian, assistant professor of nursing.

The most challenging nursing classes Meisha completed were those she took as a sophomore. "We had just gotten into the program and had no idea what we were getting into," she explains. "The volume of information and clinical skills you learn in that first year are the building blocks for the rest of the courses you take in the nursing program."

Meisha identifies the biggest strength of Finlandia's Nursing program as the three years of clinical experiences that BSN students complete.  Meisha completed clinical experiences and several Copper Country medical facilities, as well as at Marquette (Mich.) General Hospital.

"Clinical experiences gave us the opportunity to use the skills we learned in the classroom and lab. They helped prepare me the most for the work I will do," she says. "Classes teach, but the hands-on approach that clinicals provide reinforces that and makes you think about the situation as a whole."

As in any professional career, nursing comes with both rewards and challenges. To Meisha, the large number of specialties nurses can pursue is a significant reward.

"Nursing specialties allow you to help people in ways that draw your interest and make it interesting to go to work," she explains. "The challenges are to find the best way to provide care for each client and family, while working within a changing healthcare system."

Her career plans include working in an ER, travel nursing, and attending graduate school. In the next five years, Meisha plans to attend graduate school to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or complete a master's degree in Forensic Nursing. In 10 years, she sees herself in practice using her CRNA or forensic nursing degree and traveling.

Meisha is active in Finlandia's Student Nurses' Organization and, with other upper-level nursing students, has been working to transform the organization into a state- and nationally-recognized member of the Michigan Student Nurses Association and the National Student Nurses Association.

She also tutors high school students in math and science for Finlandia's Upward Bound program, and for two years she has worked part-time at the Omega House hospice in Houghton.

Originally from Haslett, Mich., Meisha now lives in Hancock. She graduated from Haslett High School in 1999. Meisha is the daughter of Meta and Michael Bray. Her mother, Meta, is an assistant professor of nursing at Finlandia. Meisha has two sisters, Mara and Micah. Mara received a BSN from Finlandia in 2008.


Photo cutline: 2010 Finlandia University Valedictorian Meisha Bray