WCU Brother-Sister Duo Inspire Each Other to Aim High

Growing up, Tammy S. was always the big sister WCU Alumni Shawn P. could look up to.

“She graduated with honors from high school, I’m the one that barely graduated high school,” Shawn said. “I’ve always admired her. She never took the easy route”

The siblings admit they haven’t always been close. Shawn said he faced many hardships that lead him down the wrong path.

“When I came out as being gay, it was just so much different coming out in the 90s,” he said. “I struggled, moved away, made poor choices overnight. It happened overnight.”

Shawn said he became addicted to drugs and lived on the streets for 10 years. But one day, a nurse changed his life.

“It was a nurse in the ER that talked to me for over three hours that just really inspired me to give back to something and I felt like I had a second shot at life,” Shawn said. “Giving back to patients is a form of me being able to give something back to the community.”

Shawn started at WCU-Los Angeles in 2014. He was able to play a big role in CNSA (California Nursing Students’ Association) and became the first WCU student to have an active role on the state board for CNSA, later serving as president for the state of California. Years later, he continued his education, earning his MSN-FNP from WCU-Online in 2022.

“My experience overall was perfection. I had no complaints. I did very well through the program and had such a huge sense of admiration for the program,” Shawn said.

While Shawn was earning his degrees, Tammy was already in the healthcare field. She went through a medical sonography program and earned a degree in radiology. For the past 23 years, she’s specialized in pediatric and fetal cardiology. Tammy said she and Shawn have gotten closer over the past two years.

“He was able to come and do some of his clinical hours for the NP program, through me, through the cardiology clinics that I work with, so he was able to see me at work,” Tammy said. “He never gave up. He kept going, and he finished. We were all really proud of him, and I watch him with his patients now, and he’s great. He’s a great nurse. I think that was really his calling.”

Recently, Tammy said she felt like radiology ran its course, and she needed a change. At first, she was considering PA school, but Shawn helped steer her towards the nursing route. Once she finishes her BSN, she also plans to complete the NP program.

“I chose West Coast University because of the high regard, Shawn holds it too; he had such a good experience, talks very highly of West Coast,” Tammy said. “The goal down the road is for him and I to be able to work together and have a family-owned practice together at some point.”

As a mom of five, Tammy said she’s thankful for any financial help she could get in her journey back to school. The WCU Alumni Association Legacy Scholarship was created to support a family tradition of WCU Alumni and provide financial assistance to current WCU undergraduate and graduate students who have a relative that is a WCU Alumni. Tammy was a Spring 2022 recipient.

“I am thankful for these scholarships that are able to help so many people,” Shawn said.

For additional information and eligibility requirements on alumni scholarships, please visit: https://westcoastuniversity.edu/about/alumni/scholarships

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.