Heidi Borum’s epiphany came when she lost her son who was stillborn at 39 weeks.
“It was the most horrible, painful situation, the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life,” Borum said. “But the nurse was absolutely amazing. She helped guide me through the ordeal, and even though our son was dead, she helped make him a part of our family by making his footprints and handprints in clay, taking pictures of him, swaddling him, and just comforting us. The care she showed our family inspired me to look into nursing as a career.”
Just a few years later, Borum, 43, enrolled in the Grossmont College Nursing Program, where she is inspiring her fellow students while drawing inspiration from them. Her journey led to being granted a Christy Seiler Davis Memorial Scholarship during a recent awards celebration sponsored by the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.
Grossmont College faculty members are among her biggest fans.
“Heidi is an exceptional student and person, whom I was grateful to have in class,” said nursing instructor and registered nurse Michi Sekol. “She is kind, caring and compassionate with her patients and their families, as well as with her peers. She is consistently prepared, active and engaged in class and dedicated to becoming a great nurse one day. Heidi will be a wonderful addition to the nursing profession one day, and we are lucky to have her.”
A native of La Mesa who grew up in Jamul, Borum built a successful career in the insurance industry after earning both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English. Then she had her stillborn son. The births of two healthy girls followed, and the care she received solidified her decision to make her foray into a new profession.
“It was a wakeup call," Borum said. "I had received so much help and so much care, I wanted to pay it forward.”
After taking a series of prerequisites at several colleges, she enrolled in the Grossmont College Nursing Program in fall 2015. With her first year still to be completed, Borum has already been placed in clinical work at Rady Children’s Hospital, the Women’s Health Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Scripps Mercy Hospital, and Kaiser Hospital in San Diego.
Borum said she quickly overcame any anxiety caused by being the oldest student in her cohort.
“It has been enlightening and energizing to learn about my peers’ diverse cultures and generational differences along the way,” Borum said. “When I hear people my age disparage millennials, I tell them that the millennials in Grossmont’s Nursing Program are bright, focused, and engaged, and that I would be honored to have them care for me if I were in the hospital. Even though I am two decades older than some of my classmates, we have a vast amount of common ground, rooted in the desire to help our fellow human beings.”
Borum’s plans call for her to earn her bachelor of science degree in nursing from San Diego State University once she completes the Grossmont College program. Then she hopes to become an OB or pediatric nurse.
She should have plenty of opportunity. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10-year period ending in 2024 will see the hiring of nearly 434,000 nurses nationwide. Shortages for nurses and nurse practitioners are expected for the next 10 years in California, where the median wage for registered nurses was nearly $98,000 in 2015, according to the state Employment Development Department.
Borum has become among Grossmont College’s biggest advocates.
“The Nursing Program is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The professors are vested in your success, the students are all supporting each other, and there is ample opportunity for clinical experience.”