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Kai Younger '17: Nursing Student, Nurturer, Scholarship Recipient

This student from Pawtucket is no longer putting her dreams on hold.

When people adopt a pet they don’t always consider the time, dedication, and expense that goes along with their adorable new friend. That’s when nurturers like nursing student Kai Younger of Pawtucket feel themselves being called.

“I don’t have children but I rescue ferrets, they are the loves of my life. I take them from abusive situations and from people who couldn’t afford to take care of them or . . . just couldn’t. That’s the nurturer in me. I was always meant to be a nurse or a doctor. At the core of my very being is to nurture and take care of the people around me.”

Kai, 41, has dreamed of becoming a nurse or a doctor since she was six. But her dream has been deferred multiple times starting when she was 15 and her mother died of cancer, leaving Kai and her five siblings to struggle to remain together. She attempted college but became a medical assistant, a job she had for 16 years before being diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. She endured more than a dozen surgeries and was out of work during her illness, losing everything.

When asked how she was feeling, she cheerfully said, “Every day I’m alive is a good day. That is why I am such a go-getter. Life is short.”

No longer delaying her dream, Kai is expected to graduate with her nursing degree in the fall of 2017, becoming her family’s first college graduate. Kai said living on her income from a part-time job doing hemodialysis at Miriam Hospital while paying tuition is tremendously hard. She’s grateful to have received the Lynda Sacco Joseph Nursing Scholarship and thankful to the donors who created it.

“Thank you for the opportunity to live out that dream, to allow me to aspire to be what I always felt I could be. Without the help of people like them, it wouldn’t happen or it would be more of a struggle for me, and I am grateful for them easing the burden off me.”

Kai had been working to create an organization supporting minority nursing students at URI that would foster health promotion and education for underrepresented minorities. But her efforts were put on the backburner when her 12-year-old nephew was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer. He is undergoing treatment at Dana Farber and her nurturing instincts will serve her well as she works with URI Nursing to plan a bone marrow drive in the hopes of finding him a matching donor.