Taylor BarberAs a member of the Navajo Tribe, Taylor Barber ’22 was raised to take care of people, to take care of her family and to ensure that everyone in her community was taken care of and looked after before taking care of herself. It was that upbringing that planted a seed of caring and nurturing inside of her.

But it wasn’t until Barber was an undergraduate at the University of Arizona when she realized her true calling. While studying astrophysics and aeronautics at the University of Arizona, with plans of working for NASA, Barber took an anatomy and physiology course which changed the trajectory of her career.

During her clinical experience for the course, Barber went to the university medical center, where she got the opportunity to look at ultrasounds, x-rays and MRIs, while getting a feel for anatomy. It was there, where her affinity for nursing was born and she wanted to grow that seed that was planted so long ago.

“Going through clinicals, seeing the nurses in action and understanding what they do daily, I felt like being a nurse was adhering to my calling, my upbringing and what my grandfather always instilled in me. That’s when I knew this is where I need to be,” Barber said.

Six years ago, Barber moved with her family to Concord, North Carolina, from Phoenix, Arizona. Taking on a new adventure, she decided this was the perfect time to pursue her new passion. Barber accepted a position as a nurse’s aide on the observation unit at Atrium Health Cabarrus with plans of eventually enrolling in a nursing program. Being a nurse’s aide gives her an inside look at nursing in a hospital environment.

“I knew I always wanted to work in a hospital, so this position gives me an insider perspective. Getting to work alongside all the nurses, helps me see exactly how nursing works in the hospital setting versus an in-home or nursing home setting,” she said. “I took the job because I wanted to see what it’s like in a hospital scenario and within the hospital system. It’s a great steppingstone into the nursing field.”

Barber learned about Cabarrus College of Health Sciences through her position with Atrium Health Cabarrus and was attracted to the small class sizes, the individualized attention and the student to teacher ratio. So, she enrolled in the Associate of Science in Nursing program.Taylor Barber

“Working for Atrium Health, knowing the system and it’s values, Cabarrus College is an easier transition than going from here to UNC Charlotte. I really loved the smaller class sizes, the in-person curriculum and the fact that it is affiliated with Atrium Health,” Barber said. “It was a no-brainer.”

Barber was also attracted to Cabarrus College because of the amount of scholarship support and financial aid she was offered. She is the recipient of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship and the North Carolina State Need-based Scholarship. As an Atrium Health teammate, she is also part of the Atrium Health Loan Forgiveness program, where you pay back your loan with service to Atrium Health.

“Although Cabarrus College is a private school and more expensive than some colleges, given the scholarship support and the loan forgiveness option, they’ve really made my goal of becoming a registered nurse and getting that degree attainable for me,” Barber said. “It’s incredible.”

Once Barber earns her degree and gains experience as a registered nurse, she would like to move into the intensive care unit to better prepare for her goal of becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) or a flight nurse. Ever since she went through the operating room as part of her clinical experience with the college, she has been intrigued with working in the operating room because she enjoys the adrenaline.

“What I enjoy most about the college is the instructors. At universities, they have 350 students or more in a lecture and could care less if you pass. Whereas these instructors, I feel like they get to know you,” Barber said. “Most of them have worked in the field or are working in the field, so they know what it’s like. They know what you’re going through and they know what you must do to be successful That’s one of the things that has really helped my learning is how personable these instructors are and how supportive they are.

“I haven’t met all the professors, but all the ones I’ve met, they’re wonderful. They are all like a wonderful bag of gems that are just scattered about the college.”

When Barber isn’t studying, she enjoys gardening. She takes care of exotic plants and is jokingly known around the hospital as the clinical herbologist. And when she’s not taking care of exotic plants, Barber enjoys spending time with her husband and 3-year-old son.