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CU Nursing student Shashalee Sangster

Finding Inspiration to Attend CU Nursing

Nursing Student Learns About Trailblazing Alum While Applying

Written by Molly Smerika on May 13, 2024

A trailblazing University of Colorado College of Nursing alumna inspired Shashalee Sangster to earn her degree from the University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus.

Sangster was researching CU Nursing and discovered a petition by Future Voices to induct Zipporah Parks Hammond into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Parks Hammond was CU Nursing’s first Black nursing student and the only Black student in her cohort.

“Her story immediately resonated with me because I’m from a different country (Jamaica), and looking at the demographics of our cohort, I could easily relate to her,” she says. “I really wanted to be in an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion were not just token words, but where those things were actually being achieved to create a quality atmosphere.”

She applied to CU Nursing and was accepted into the college’s BS in Nursing Traditional (TRAD) program.

“I wasn’t interested in just surviving nursing school, I wanted to be in an environment where I could thrive,” she adds.  And thrived she has, graduating among the top students in her cohort.

Sangster’s hometown is Kingston, Jamaica, and she came to Colorado nine years ago. She earned an associate degree in human resources management, but always had a passion for healthcare. Her previous jobs include working at a blood bank and a pharmacy. In fact, Sangster considered going to pharmacy school until she took a job as a patient care technician.

“I really loved the one-on-one with patients, working with them, and being with them at a very vulnerable time in their life,” she says. “I enjoyed building those relationships and having an impact on someone else’s life. Nursing is definitely the profession for me because it aligns with who I am at the core.”

Embracing Diversity at CU Nursing

Future Voices



The organization accomplishes its mission by supporting DEI events, training, and initiatives across campus, creating open forums for students to discuss ideas and concerns surrounding our campus culture and curriculum.

It became a full-circle moment for Sangster when she served as the director of Future Voices – the same group that helped inspire her to come to CU Nursing.

She says DEI is an important aspect of nursing and praises the college for supporting it.

“It’s great to see the work CU Nursing is doing to support people of color and making sure those nurses are successful,” she says. “It will be so beneficial because having a more diverse workforce not only improves access to care, but it also improves a patient’s perception of the healthcare they’re receiving. CU Nursing is helping to make a better healthcare system in the future.”

Sangster holds her position with Future Voices close to her heart. She enjoys being someone other students can relate to and see what it takes to succeed in nursing school.

“For me, it’s so important to be a part of Future Voices because representation matters in the community,” she says. “It matters to students of different backgrounds to be represented and they should feel supported.”

Building Relationships

Sangster plans to stay in Colorado after graduation, saying the mountains have won her over. Her family has since moved to Colorado from Jamaica, so Colorado is now home.

Sangster wants to start her nursing career in the ICU, and she credits that to attending a networking event through Future Voices.

She met a manager at a local ICU and was able to secure a tech job there. She fell in love with the complexities of diseases and working with different medical equipment in the ICU. Critical care also affords greater autonomy and scope of practice, so she looks forward to developing her critical thinking skills to help patients. She also appreciates the team-based approach in this environment and will enjoy collaborating with other healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes.

“Most importantly, in the ICU I feel like you have so much time with a patient,” she says. “Because you have one or two patients, you have more time to spend with them, getting to know their cases, and building relationships. Having the opportunity to see the whole picture of a patient situation puts you in a unique position to support them and their families.”

Topics: Students, Graduation