Shaina Hansen has taken an education journey that’s included the University of Idaho, Boise State University, the College of Western Idaho and Idaho State University. 

“My husband and I joke that I’ve been to every college in Idaho,” she said. 

There was a California detour for she and her husband, James. She spent three years working as an Emergency Medical Technician and 9-1-1 responder in Los Angeles. 

It was during the outbreak of COVID-19 that the couple decided to move back to their native state, and Shaina decided to enroll in an accelerated nursing program at Idaho State. She received a scholarship from the Northwest Health Science Scholarship Initiative, which awarded $2,000 scholarships to 100 students from 12 universities across the Pacific Northwest and Utah.

The Northwest Health and Science Scholarship Initiative is funded through the John William Jackson Fund, which was established by friends and family of the former Meridian man who died in a climbing accident in Central Asia. The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health contributed to the fund to support nursing and health science scholarships at Idaho universities. The fund also raises money through recycling efforts to support scholarships, performing arts, music instrument purchases, and youth outdoor sports.

Hansen is a first-generation college student from Meridian whose scholarship was funded by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health via the John William Jackson Fund. She graduated from Mountain View High School, then attended the U of I before transferring to Boise State. She earned her degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Human Biology and a minor in Chemistry in 2018 before heading to California, and three years later, back to Idaho. 

“I decided it was now my journey to go to nursing school,” she said. 

First, she needed to take classes at ISU and the College of Western Idaho for 18 months to meet the prerequisites required for enrolling in the demanding nursing program. There are no regrets and Hansen is happy with school. 

“It’s been great,” she said. “It’s very intimidating going to hospitals as a new nurse and student, but our hospital systems are so set up for education. The minute they find out we’re ISU students they are so welcoming because they know that we know what we’re talking about. Our professors are great.” 

Hansen, 29, also has work experience at Saint Alphonsus as a certified nursing assistant and at different outpatient clinics in Meridian. While in Los Angeles, she also worked as a patient representative at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center’s Samuel Oschin Cancer Center. Nothing beats the experience of working in the field, she said. 

“Now that COVID is ‘over’ we get hands-on clinical experience instead of the virtual clinical experience, and that’s been a really nice adjustment for everybody,” she said. 

It was what she saw during the pandemic that helped determine the type of nurse she hopes to become after graduation. 

“I want to be an emergency medicine nurse or a trauma ICU nurse,” she said. “I saw that a lot with COVID and what the ER nurses go through. They just do incredible work. They are the ones who pushed me to go back to school, and I think it’s a really good way to give back.”