June 14, 2023

Jae’Wuan Horton had mixed feelings about going back to school. He had just graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and was working in his field with a staffing firm. “I had a great time working there and had the opportunity to work with a lot of friends from college,” he said.

But he wanted more.

In fall 2020, he switched gears entirely, moving from the field of finance to health care. He enrolled in the nursing program at Great Bay Community College after watching his girlfriend go through the program and begin her career as a registered nurse.

“Being able to see my girlfriend’s journey in nursing school to working as a RN inspired me to enroll and begin the journey myself,” he said. “I chose Great Bay because my girlfriend only had good things to say. I had zero healthcare experience, so I wanted to make sure I chose a program that had a smaller teacher-to-student ratio. This way I would have the best opportunity to learn.”

It was a bold decision, and Horton thought long and hard before deciding to enroll.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to go back to school. The thought of signing back up to be a student and starting a career in a field I knew almost nothing about was very daunting. But I also knew I wanted a change from my current field and be able to make more of a positive impact in others’ lives, so I applied,” he said.

“I was motivated to enroll because of my goals and what I wanted for my future. I have always enjoyed helping others,” said Horton, who played defensive end on the UNH football team and served as a captain his senior year.

Horton, 27, graduated from the nursing program at Great Bay in the spring, and he soon will begin working as a dialysis nurse at an outpatient dialysis clinic. At commencement, he received the Nightingale Award for Exemplary Clinical Practice, presented annually to a senior who displays exceptional professionalism, confidence, and critical-thinking ability in each of the clinical areas, demonstrating compassion, inquisitiveness, and self-motivation.

“Either during or after every clinical rotation, I would hear from faculty about Jae and the special connections he made with his patients,” Dulcinea Kaufman, director of nursing at Great Bay, said during commencement.

“I felt very proud to win the award,” Horton said. “The award represents going above and beyond to deliver quality nursing care. My big takeaway from winning the award is that sometimes the little things we do to help others can have meaningful impacts on them without us even knowing.”