Three awarded in SDSU’s ‘Why I Want to be a Nurse’ contest

Hermosa fifth-grader Emma Smith knows she wants to become a nurse and her essay explaining that won her the “Why I Want to be a Nurse” contest sponsored by South Dakota State University.

She wrote, in part, “I am really confident in myself and I’m going to try to never give up because this is what I have wanted to be ever since I knew what a nurse was.”

The contest, open to any South Dakota fifth-grader, has been conducted annually since 2002. Smith set herself apart from the other 22 entries because “She had an understanding of the nurse’s role and expressed great enthusiasm and excitement to learn how to become an SDSU nurse,” according to Cassy Hultman, an SDSU College of Nursing clinical site manager in Brookings and one of contest judges.

Smith, the daughter of Wendy and Chet Smith, of Hermosa, wrote, “My understanding of a nurse’s role is to make the patient calm down and just understand that we aren’t going to hurt them. It’s helping that counts. I don’t really know how a nurse would handle some situations, but I’m pretty sure you guys will teach me when I go to SDSU.”

“When she started talking about being a nurse, we talked about different schools with good nursing programs and (SDSU) was at the top of the list,” Wendy Smith said.

When her daughter was younger, she said Emma “She was always asking me for Ace bandages and ice packs. I would check on her and she would have an examination room set up for patients—dolls and stuffed animals.”

In her essay, Smith wrote, “I would play with one of my friends in the basement. She would be a ballerina or something. She would ‘hurt’ herself and I would cure it with a little Ace bandage.”

Wendy Smith’s medical experience is limited to icing ankles for student-athletes in Custer School District, where she is a teacher’s aide. Her dad is full time with the Wyoming Air National Guard. However, Emma does have an aunt and three cousins who are or have been nurses in Rapid City.

The essay included an image of Jack the Jackrabbit with the line “Can’t wait to be there myself.”

Smith received her award, which includes a $100 savings bond, May 17 from LeAnn Lamb, an instructor with the West River Nursing Department.

Second place went to Darrier Martin, who attends Washington Elementary in Huron. Martin, the daughter of Lisa Wallenstein and Roger Martin, wrote, “Nursing is important because people need nurses to help them live a healthy and safe life.” Her prizes included a $50 savings bond.

Third place went to Ellie Cruz, of Castlewood. She is a fifth-grader at Estelline and the daughter of Ron and Lisa Cruz. She would like to be a military nurse because “I’m calm, I can work quickly and I’m also good at putting people at ease. That is why I would be a great nurse.” Her prizes included a $25 savings bond.

The contest is a rebirth of a 1951 contest sponsored by Curity. The winner was Kay Hobbie, who would go on to be the nursing lab coordinator at SDSU.


About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from six different colleges representing nearly 200 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 35 master’s degree programs, 15 Ph.D. and two professional programs.

The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.