Sara Silika was 9 years old when she decided she wanted to be a nurse.

“After getting really sick and being hospitalized, I just knew that I wanted to help people the way that I was helped,” Silika vividly recalls.

Now a freshman at UNCG, Silika is on her way to doing exactly what she set her heart on so long ago.

While in high school, the Wilmington native achieved high honors both in the classroom and as a student-athlete.

Silika ran cross-country on the varsity team, and she acknowledges that her determination and drive as a person is easily visible when she runs. She also admits that, much like most things in life, her success on the field did not come easily.

“I was not good at all when I started running, but I was determined to push myself to reach the level of excellence that my coach was training us to reach,” she said. “I did not qualify for the state meet that year, but I kept pushing myself. The next year, as a sophomore, I qualified for state. I’ve been a top runner since.”

While she’ll still be running recreationally, Silika’s focus is on her new gig as a Spartan. Not only is she working to earn her spot on UNCG’s nationally-ranked nursing school, but she is also a member of the Lloyd International Honors College.

“I am excited about the classes we get to take through the honors college, and the opportunity to study abroad is awesome,” Silika said.  “I want to use this as an opportunity to learn about other people. Part of learning to help others is learning about and appreciating different people and different cultures.”

Silika hopes to study abroad in Peru. She already knows a little bit of Spanish.

Diversity, a core value of the UNCG culture, is one of the reasons that Silika chose UNCG over other state institutions.

“I want to get to know people and places outside of what I am used to,” Silika said. “I embrace difference and UNCG does too.”

While she knows the next four years will be challenging, Silika is excited and ready for her journey as she takes the next steps toward her childhood goal of becoming a nurse.

When asked how she plans to tackle the next four years, she recalls advice she received when she first visited UNCG.

“Know who you want to be. Know what you want to be. And know where you want to go.”

Lucky for Silika, she has always known what she wanted to be.

 

Story by Nancy Maingi, Contributor
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications