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First black male to graduate from IU Bloomington School of Nursing this May


Senior Larry Wilson will graduate in May, making him the first black male to graduate from IU-Bloomington’s School of Nursing which began conferring degrees in 2005. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Davisha Fredericks said when her son was 5, he told her he was going to college.

“He said he wanted to be something that was needed in the world,” Fredericks said.

This May, senior Larry Wilson will be the first black male to graduate from IU Bloomington’s School of Nursing since the school began conferring degrees in 2005.

Fredericks said she knew when her son told her he was going to be a nurse, he was going to do it.

Her son was always an inquisitive child and his curiosity was one of his best qualities, along with his big heart, she said.

“I believe Larry became a nurse because he wants to save lives," Fredericks said. "He wants to help people.”

Wilson decided to go into nursing because he said he feels people have a responsibility to make the world better. Being a nurse means being a safeguard and being the first person a patient sees, Wilson said.

Early on in nursing school, he said he struggled with putting in an IV. Wilson said he felt like a failure.

He ended up creating a rap about inserting IVs and after practicing Wilson learned how to insert one.

“It reaffirmed my ability to always keep going, and if you don’t know something, to close that gap,” Wilson said.

Being the first black male to graduate from IU Bloomington School of Nursing is an accomplishment, but him being the first is sad, Wilson said. He said he thinks IU-Bloomington needs to be more diverse.

“If you don’t have people around you who looks like you, you don’t feel 100% comfortable,” he said.

When he graduates, Wilson said he wants to move to Chicago to work in an emergency room and eventually return to school to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

Nichelle Whitney, former staff member in the School of Nursing who now works in admissions, said she helped him with résumés and cover letters. She said they were a bit disappointed to learn he would be the first black male from IU Bloomington’s School of Nursing after all this time but still celebrated a step in the right direction.

“As we prepare practitioners, we need to have a diverse workforce,” she said.

She said recruitment needs to be more focused on diversity, and Wilson graduating will help other men feel more comfortable in the field. There needs to be more focus on pre-college programs and pushing back against stereotypes.

“We have to destigmatize this idea that men don’t go into nursing,” Whitney said. “There’s a space for them in this career.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Nichelle Whitney was a faculty member at the School of Nursing. Whitney was a member of staff. This article was edited for clarity on May 7, 2019. The IDS regrets this error.

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