The University of Colorado College of Nursing Alumni Association Board of Directors is excited to announce three new members: Etzany (Etzy) Diaz Ocampo, Kelsey McDonald Gibson, and Sarah Daley.
As the governing body of the CU College of Nursing alumni population, the Board of Direct ors honors outstanding alumni with the Annual Alumni Association Awards and the DAISY Awards, provides Nursing Continuing Professional Development opportunities, creates mentorship programs, and hosts events like the Aug. 27 Brunch at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.Please join us in welcoming these distinguished alumnae to the Board!
Spotlight on Etzany (Etzy) Diaz Ocampo
Etzany (Etzy) Diaz Ocampo
Etzany (Etzy) Diaz Ocampo’s journey to nursing began 15 years ago when her younger sister was diagnosed with cancer. Intimately involved in her sister’s care, Diaz Ocampo, RN, BSN ‘18, would interpret health care instructions for the family. At the time, her sister recognized Diaz Ocampo’s skills and said, “One day, you’ll be an amazing oncology nurse!”
Born in Mexico, Diaz Ocampo received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) relief in the United States. She graduated from the CU College of Nursing in 2018 in the undergraduate Integrated Nursing Pathway program.
Throughout her education, her parents pushed her to do well in classes and attend college – even if that meant they had to work extra hours to afford it. Diaz Ocampo was the first in her family to graduate from high school, go to college, and ultimately graduate from both.
Today, Diaz Ocampo is married with two wonderful children. She works as an RN in the Cancer Infusion Center and the Care Clinic on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and is interested in becoming an Oncology Certified Nurse.
Her time as a nurse is served in honor of her beloved sister, who Diaz Ocampo describes as the “rock and foundation” of her nursing career.
To current CU College of Nursing students, Diaz Ocampo urges them to realize nothing is impossible. “There will be days that you’ll want to quit, but remember why you started this career,” she says. “Find your roots in nursing. Find your inspiration.”
Spotlight on Kelsey McDonald Gibson
Kelsey McDonald Gibson
Kelsey McDonald Gibson, RN, BSN ‘21, pirouetted from ballet dancing to a nursing career.
While traveling with a professional ballet company during college, Gibson connected with the nurses who helped treat her dance-related injuries. As someone who had always been intrigued by the medical field, she realized that nursing was an ideal fit as she transitioned from the physically demanding world of ballet.
Gibson’s experience while attending the CU College of Nursing was split between online and in-person classes, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once students and faculty adapted to the new mode of learning, she says she noticed a special bond among her peers. They were each other’s support systems and they adapted to new ways of learning together.
During the “virtual year” of her studies, Gibson kept busy with the University of Colorado Student Nurses Association (CUSNA), an honors research program, and on-campus clinical training. Combining her love of cardiology and her past career as a “professional exerciser” (aka, ballerina), her research investigated heart rates and exercise with cancer patients.
Today, Gibson is an RN on the cardiac floor at Children’s Hospital Colorado, while working on a certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Her goal is to join the sexual assault team at Children’s Hospital part-time while continuing her regular work on the cardiac floor.
She encourages current nursing students to keep an open mind about exploring various professional specialties.
“I never thought I would end up in pediatrics – I had pictured myself in ICU and ED for so long,” she says. “Once I tried pediatrics, it clicked.”
Spotlight on Sarah Daley
As a child, Sarah Daley, RN, BSN Class of 2021 wanted to be a veterinarian because caring for animals was an early passion.
While animals have stayed an important part of Daley’s life, her path shifted to other pursuits. She enlisted in the United States Coast Guard where she served as a first responder for five years.
“It’s really where I discovered that I thrive on helping others in emergencies,” Daley says.
The travel and variety the Coast Guard offered granted Daley wonderful life experiences.
After Daley’s enlistment ended, she switched gears to academia and used part of her Veteran’s G.I. Bill to explore different career paths. Partially fulfilling her childhood dream, she worked as a veterinary technician. In 2016, she graduated from the University of California-Davis with a BS in cognitive psychology. The following year, Daley and her husband moved to Colorado after his military enlistment ended, and she decided to commit to a career in nursing.
The medical knowledge Daley acquired in the Coast Guard – and as a vet tech – especially gave her something of a head start in CU Nursing’s undergraduate baccalaureate program. She used her psychology expertise as a children's mentor at an outpatient community mental health center. Daley found her young clients inspiring, and they taught her how to process and communicate difficult subjects in new ways.
At her current position at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center, Daley uses these acquired skills on the Inpatient Medical-Surgical-Telemetry-Rehab floor.
“On this floor, there are a variety of patients, and sometimes – especially within the veteran populations – the patients are simply looking to be heard and seeking someone to listen to them.”
“Working in that environment as a veteran has been a blessing,” Daley says. “It is fulfilling to serve veterans and to relate to them on a personal level.”
Daley says she’d like to return to school to become a nurse practitioner in the future. The rural area where she lives lacks healthcare, and she would like to help expand medical service to a community that needs it.
She advises nursing students to try everything while in school.
“While on a clinical, always volunteer for the procedure, the IV, everything – even if it seems scary,” she says. “The only way to learn is by physically doing it yourself. Your confidence in your skills will grow exponentially.”