NDSU celebrates Student Nurses of the Year in Fargo and Bismarck

During National Nurses Week, NDSU is celebrating Katie Unbehaun and Tyra Karel, NDSU School of Nursing’s Student Nurses of the Year.

Karel, a native of Eagan, Minnesota, was named Student Nurse of the Year at NDSU photo of Tyra KarelSchool of Nursing in Fargo. She has served as NDSU Student Nurses Association Breakthrough to Nursing Director and a member of the NDSU School of Nursing Curriculum Committee.

In addition, Karel has volunteered at a local hospital, and had varied nursing experiences in long-term care, palliative care, cardiac catheterization lab and medical surgical rotation.

“I chose a career in nursing because I want to make a difference for myself, others, the community,” said Karel. “When I was nine years old, ‘I said I want to be like my mother when I grow up.’ For me, that is actually turning into reality. My mother has been a critical care nurse for 30 years, a volunteer firefighter and an Emergency Medical Service Coordinator.”

After experiencing bullying as a child, Karel said she eventually became the person who stood up for others that were being teased.

“Being the target of such negative comments made me have zero tolerance for bullying and propelled me to be a positive leader,” said Karel.

“The best things about my nursing education so far have been meeting amazing, lifelong friends in class, developing relationships with my instructors and getting to apply what I am learning in the classroom out in the clinical setting,” according to Karel.

When she graduates in 2021, Karel hopes to work as a pediatric nurse.

For Katie Unbehaun, Student Nurse of the Year at NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck, family also played a role in her career choice.

photo of Katie Unbehaun “Medicine has always been part of my life. Both   my parents work in healthcare and I grew up listening to stories about their experiences and observing their dedication to medicine,” said Unbehaun, who grew up in California and Washington. Her husband took a job in Bismarck in 2015 which led her to North Dakota.

“In healthcare, nurses have the most interactions with patients and their families,” said Unbehaun. “It is our responsibility to treat everyone with the same love and kindness regardless of their skin color, gender, age, cultural background, sexuality, or financial status,” she said.

“As a nurse, I want my patients to have the best experience they possibly can by providing the best medical care, as well as showing them they matter and aren’t just another patient,” said Unbehaun.

An early experience as a lifeguard in high school set Unbehaun on the path toward emergency medicine when she graduates in 2021. A child in a pool was struggling and slipped under.  “We pulled him out, started CPR, and we were able to revive him. This was my first experience dealing with an emergency and set the foundation for my desire to become an ER nurse,” she said.

“During my career as a nurse, my goal is to have a direct impact in implementing best practices to improve patient care,” said Unbehaun. “My goal is to ensure that throughout my career, I am practicing at the top of my abilities and helping others to do the same, which results in the best patient care.”

The NDSU School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions provides bachelor’s and graduate nursing education. Programs are available for part- and full-time students, working professionals and those seeking online educational opportunities. 

As a student-focused, land grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

Top of page