Carol Harvey, MS Class of 1983, has spent her life surrounded by “superwomen”. Her mother was a clinical nurse specialist who didn’t particularly want to see any of her four daughters go into nursing. Harvey watched her older sisters become an attorney, a civil engineer, and a chemical engineer.
Harvey’s decision to pursue nursing was, at first, more pragmatic than passionate. In the late 70s, there was civil unrest around desegregation and a meltdown of infrastructure. At 16, Harvey found herself pursuing an undergraduate degree without a clear life path – studying engineering for a time, but hating the experience. Seeking stability, Harvey transferred her credits to a nursing school in Tennessee. “Nursing was familiar. I chose it to have time to figure out my life. I never expected to love it – and I fully loved it,” said Harvey.
Once Harvey declared she was going to be a nurse, her mother “was all in. We were close because we shared the same highs and lows. We understood each other.” Nursing brought mother and daughter close enough to call each other best friends. “She was so supportive of her children. She was our coach and fan club,” she said. After gaining a few years of staff nursing experience in Tennessee, graduate school was a must for Harvey as her mother pushed her to further her education.
Studying for her Master’s at CU Nursing was “life-changing” for Harvey. The program honored her life experiences. “The faculty respected where I came from and helped me make sense of my nursing life,” she recalled. Harvey attests that the master’s program helped her realize her career options and find her fit. Faculty helped her narrow her education to maternal child care as a clinical nurse specialist. “CU changed the way I thought about practicing nursing. They trained me to think like a creative investigator and took away self-imposed boundaries,” mused Harvey. Harvey appreciated the program in that faculty showed her the influence and opportunities from being an expert nurse, and also taught students to think and achieve goals based on the location of evidence.
Speaking to the character of the CU Nursing family, Harvey said, “We are powerful. Friends from CU find strength in each other and science. We are well-grounded in any role and given tools to succeed in any path we choose. CU graduates are doing it all. There are no boundaries – no limits on where they want to go or who they think they should be.”
Harvey’s advice to students is to always be open “or you may miss chances.” She is also passionate about teaching young nurses financial intelligence and responsibility. “I want to see nurses gain internal confidence to have financial freedom. I want every nurse who is entering the profession to learn career planning, financial proficiency, and personal integrity, which all work collectively to build a foundation for personal exploration.” Harvey also reminds new nurses that the greatest achievement they can make in their first nursing job is to take the time to become a clinical leader. That attribute is not replaceable and can be priceless when negotiating their next role.
Today, Harvey is a clinical nurse specialist focusing on critical care obstetrics at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. She also serves as Co-Chair of the Ethics Consultation Service for the multi-hospital organization. In the future, Harvey says that she and her husband may return to Colorado. “My husband is dying to go back. I want to continue working in healthcare. I’m open to new experiences and I’m looking for the next chapter and opportunity.”