A Life Changed

April 15, 2012. That was the day that changed the course of Christopher Wilson’s life forever.

As part of the Army National Guard, Chris, BSN ’17, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. While there, as a member of Missouri Agribusiness Development Team 6, he was the security forces team leader and felt a great deal of responsibility for his soldiers. His responsibilities included the training of security forces and developing missions, organizing teams and detailing routes in order to keep his soldiers safe.

On that fateful day, Chris’ base was attacked by insurgents. Initially, a car bomb went off behind the troops’ sleeping quarters. Insurgents then used the chaos to their advantage and came into the camp. A 30-minute firefight ensued, and while Chris was physically unharmed, in all, 17 purple hearts were awarded from this incident.

After the dust had settled, Chris visited his wounded soldiers at the Army hospital at Jalalabad Airfield. Everywhere he looked, he saw nurses providing the top level of care to his wounded comrades.

“I didn’t see a doctor. It was all nurses,” Chris says. “After I had a chance to process everything that had happened, that was the moment that led me to want to be a nurse. I wanted to be able to provide the care my soldiers received.”

Later that year, Chris returned to the United States and began to think about what his career might hold next. He already held a bachelor’s of science in exercise science/physiology from Truman State University, but wanted to become a nurse.

He needed to take a few prerequisites and then applied to the Sinclair School of Nursing’s accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing. In 2016, Chris was accepted into the highly competitive program. 

Throughout the rigorous, 15-month program, he had to work to both develop the nursing knowledge and skills he would need to practice as a bachelor’s-prepared nurse after graduation and keep up with his military duties.

“I finished that first summer semester of the program, took my ‘Skills’ final and that immediately led to my wedding day,” Chris says. “I got married and then left for a week from some military training and then came back and started the next semester. That’s pretty much how it went throughout the whole program I would finish one thing, and it was on to the next.”

As the program came to a close in July 2017, if Chris thought his life was going to slow down, he was wrong. Just before his last week of finals, Chris and his wife, Nicole, delivered their first child, Hugh Lawrence Wilson.

Chris spent his first few nights as a new father staying up late, studying for his last round of finals. Managing to pass them all, he now has a little bit of time to think about his future. Through a combination of natural skills and those he developed in the military, Chris has always been a leader. He used those skills in his time at the SSON. 

“i’m not the most outspoken person,” Chris says. “I like to lead by example, but I tried to speak out sometimes, I knew I was one of the oldest ones in the class and wanted to be someone my classmates could look up to.”

Now, Chris is going to use his skills as a nurse in the surgical intensive care unit at University Hospital here in Columbia. He hopes that role will help him to continue acquiring skills and experiences that will help him achieve his ultimate goal. Chris is currently in the process of switching from being an engineer in the National Guard to being enlisted in the Medical Services Corps. He wants to be able to be deployed and be one of the frontline nurses that deal with casualties of war.

“That is the fruition of everything that happened in that attack in 2012,” Chris says. “I just want to be someone that soldiers can rely on and feel comfortable that they are in the best care with me.”