Taylor O'Daye Recognized as Sam Lieberman Regents' Award Recipient

Mar 10, 2023

Western Nevada College nursing student Taylor O’Daye envisions making a difference in the health and safety for her people on the Walker River Indian Reservation.

As a member of the Walker River Paiute Tribe, O’Daye aspires to improve health care on the reservation and serve as a role model for Native American children.

“We have great health disparities on the reservation and I want to lead the charge in resolving those,” O’Daye said. “I hope to inspire other young Native kids to pursue careers in health care because we need more representation in this industry. Most importantly, I want to make a positive difference in people's lives and set the example that you can be more, no matter where you come from!”

O’Daye’s ambition, academic success, dedication and perseverance have all contributed to her being selected as the 2023 Sam Lieberman Regents’ Scholarship Award recipient for WNC.

“Taylor’s path has not been easy, with losses and challenges, she excels in all she does,” said Debi Ingraffia-Strong, WNC Interim Director of Nursing & Allied Health and Professor of Nursing. “From her Tribal Council responsibilities in Schurz, to her position as a nurse apprentice at Banner Churchill Community Hospital, to giving nursing education it all, Taylor does so with 100 percent dedication. Taylor is what the Regents’ Scholar Award is all about.”

The devastation and vulnerability of the COVID-19 health pandemic have influenced and impacted O’Daye’s educational and professional goals.

“When the pandemic hit my family, I felt helpless. I felt anxious. I felt afraid. I wanted to do more,” she said. “My family and I were so proud when I was accepted into WNC's nursing program.”

Her perseverance and dedication to the nursing program has been tested by the passing of her beloved grandfather, uncle and best horse since she enrolled in the program in fall 2021.

“I was at a point where coping with so much loss was halting my desire to continue school,” O’Daye said. “I am not sure how I can thank my classmates and dedicated instructor, Chassity Mills, for the endless support and encouragement to stick with the program.”

Mills enjoys the positivity, pleasantness, perseverance and dedication of O’Daye.  

“Taylor is one of the sweetest people I have met. She always has a smile on her face no matter what she is going through,” Mills said. “She works hard and puts forth 100 percent at all times. She has gone through a lot in a short amount of time but never lets that bring her down. She pushes forward and continues to excel in her academics. To say that she perseveres would be an understatement!”

O’Daye, like other registered nursing students in WNC’s program, is already working in the health care field. She is an extern at Banner Churchill Community Hospital, providing her with the opportunity to receive in-patient nursing experience.

“I plan on continuing my education and will strive to be the best nurse I can be,” she said.

Ingraffia-Strong doesn’t doubt that O’Daye will reach her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner: “As Taylor moves onward into nursing practice, I believe she will be highly successful with furthering her nursing education and has excellent promise of achievement within the nursing profession!” Ingraffia-Strong said.

As the Sam Lieberman Regents’ Scholarship Award recipient, O’Daye will receive $5,000 in funding from Nevada System of Higher Education.