In her 23 years, Sajna has seen more suffering than most of us could imagine.
As a young girl living in war-torn Bosnia Herzegovina in 1995, Sajna was thrown into the world of makeshift war-time healthcare. Her own mother was tasked with being a nurse with minimal experience. As a soldier in the Bosnian Army, her father had been shot four times.
"My mom had to make do with the resources we had to help others. She wasn't a registered nurse. I remember interacting with amputees, seeing wounds treated,” Sajna said.
But instead of being scared or repulsed by what she saw, Sajna was fascinated.
“I'm weird. I know,” she said.
The Journey to the Center of America
After seeing the war firsthand, Sajna’s parents knew that Bosnia was not the place where they could give their daughter a brighter future. So, they immigrated to the United States, where they encouraged their daughter in her education.
"My parents can come off as strict, but it’s because they moved here to give me an opportunity to be successful. They weren't able to go to college like I am now, so they take school very seriously."
Five months into their new life, Sajna’s appendix burst.
"My parents were horrified. I remember them not knowing what to do. This is when the nurses were a huge help,” she said. “I saw how they eased my parents’ worries and they were with us the whole time. I still have the pictures of the nurses putting on my socks."
And, like in Bosnia, Sajna was fascinated. She began playing nurse at home, caring for her stuffed animals.
The Final Push
Then, her little brother was born prematurely and placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Sajna was involved from the beginning, talking with the nutritionist, the surgeons, the doctors. But it was the nurses attending him who knew the most.
"The nurses were always there. They were the ones who actually stayed around and helped us. My family was really stressed, and the nurses just being there was a huge help,” Sajna said.
Seeing her little brother requiring round-the-clock care was the last push Sajna needed. She knew she wanted to care for everyone’s loved ones. She was going to be a nurse!
"With all the crap going in the world, we need more love. We need nurses like me who look at patients as people. We need to step outside of looking at them as their race, gender, whatever and help them," Sajna said.
The Place to Make a Difference
Sajna began the search for a great nursing program that had opportunities for scholarships. She picked NMC because there were numerous ways to get involved.
Once she started at NMC, if there was a way to help others, Sajna found it. In her first year, she joined Student Government, the Methodist Student Nurses' Association (MSNA) and tutored.
Student Government is a group passionate students who advocate for students and look for ways to improve the community. This was perfect for Sajna's uncanny ability to talk to strangers. In Student Government, she got to meet a variety of people durring their journeys at NMC.
Sajna and her nursing student peers were also able to organize a health fair at Minne Lusa Elementary school. The health fair was a hit, drawing attention from local news station WOWT, and Sajna, with her team of peers, got to help a whole community.
Her pristine grades, intense involvement and passion earned her three Nebraska Methodist College scholarships. Sajna had found her niche through her opportunities at NMC.
At one point during her studies, she met a remarkable patient who was receiving end-of-life care. Caring for this patient changed her. Most people might feel overwhelmed with the task of caring for someone at the end of their life, but Sajna was in her zone.
She advocated for this particular patient by ensuring they were comfortable and pain-free with everything they needed. Sajna’s care for this patient even brought compliments on her advocacy.
"I get into this zone where I just want to do stuff,” she said.
Sajna has seen things most of us haven’t, but her time spent with this patient still holds a place in her heart.
"It's difficult at times to go home and decompress when that was your day, but I know this is where I'm meant to be – at NMC,” she said.