Message from Assistant Director of Sports Information Trevor Wenners: Many of our former student-athletes have taken advantage of LaGrange College's outstanding nursing program. As a result, they are making an immense difference in the health-care profession. We will be recognizing these remarkable individuals on our Panthers' athletic website and social-media channels.
Liz Minick '20 knew her calling in life from a young age.
She always put the well-being of others before her own and was willing to offer a helping hand to anyone. Those selfless qualities made her career aspirations a no-brainer. She was cut out to be a health-care worker.
Minick, who suited up for the LaGrange College women's tennis team from 2015-18 and the cross-country squad during the 2019 season, earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing in May.
"I have always been a caretaker and helper," said Minick. "It is a natural thing for me. When you think of yourself being in the patients' shoes, it is much easier to have the will to step up and do what you have to do for them."
Minick is the ideal LaGrange graduate. The college strives to prepare its students to become successful and responsible citizens, who aspire to lives of integrity and moral courage. Minick is embodying those qualities and representing her alma mater in outstanding ways during every shift at Piedmont Newnan Hospital. She started working at the hospital on July 13 as a registered nurse.
She is stationed on the hospital's designated non-ICU, COVID-19 floor, so she has been working directly with the infectious disease. The challenge was fear-provoking, but Minick reminded herself that this was her destiny.
"As a normal human being, I was not very excited to go into working with COVID-19 patients right off the bat," said Minick. "At the same time, I also knew that this is what I was called by God to do with my life. If not me, then who else? People need us to put ourselves aside and care for them. It has been challenging because of the constant gowning up and gowning down of all the personal protective equipment and feeling like I cannot be quite as personal with my patients because they cannot see any of my body, except for my eyes."
The situation has been a nontraditional experience for a recent college graduate, but Minick believes that these intense moments will aid in her professional development. Jumping right into the middle of a pandemic is difficult but rewarding.
"I think it will make me a better nurse in the long run," said Minick. "They cut our orientation training time in half, so we were thrown into the thick of things. I had to learn quickly and adapt or else I would sink. That is what I signed up for as a health-care worker. We are trained to expect the unexpected and adjust as needed. We are constantly learning and growing."
A year ago, Minick could have never imagined that she would be starting her nursing career amidst a public-health crisis of this magnitude. The Carrollton, Georgia, native thinks that the rigorous LaGrange nursing program prepared her to meet this challenge head on.
"The professors always pushed us to the limit but in the best way," said Minick. "As students, we either rose to the occasion or not. They knew that we would see hard times as a nurse and they taught us that we must step up, think quickly on our feet and know our role. I am forever thankful for all the staff in the LC nursing department. They all impacted my life so much."
Athletics also played a large role in preparing Minick for her post-graduation life. NCAA Division III student-athletes are some of the most hardworking individuals because they must balance a demanding academic and athletic schedule. They are playing the sport they love at a competitive level but are also tasked with preparing themselves for their professional careers.
There were many early mornings and late nights during Minick's time at LaGrange. She could be seen putting in long hours on the practice court or studying in small windows between classes, taking advantage of every moment. LaGrange student-athletes learn how to bounce back quickly from setbacks and work toward solutions. That mindset sets the foundation for success beyond graduation.
"The most important lesson that I learned as a student-athlete at LaGrange is to always keep pushing and striving for our dreams and goals," said Minick. "My dream has always been to become a nurse and in that journey, I saw many failures and setbacks. I had many moments of wanting to quit or doubting my ability to make it there. It took me giving up time with family and friends, having no free time on weekends and sacrificing so much to achieve what I needed to achieve."
Minick compiled a superb three-year tennis career at LaGrange, finishing with a 28-26 singles' record and a 30-24 mark in doubles' competition. During her rookie campaign in 2015-16, she went 9-7 in singles' action and 9-6 on the doubles' side.
The Panthers posted an overall record of 28-27 and went 13-13 in the USA South during Minick's tenure. The 2016-17 team reached the USA South Tournament, as Minick finished in a tie for first on the squad with 11 doubles' victories.
She was a great addition to the LaGrange women's cross-country team in 2019, placing in the Panthers' top-three a trio of times. Minick recorded a personal record of 30:20.74 in the 6 kilometer at the USA South Championship. The young woman was the unit's second-place performer at the Middle Georgia Invitational, and then posted a career-best time of 26:16.10 during the 5 kilometer at the Foothills Invitational.
"Sports have always been such a love of mine and they always taught me the best and toughest of lessons," said Minick. "I played just about every sport imaginable growing up, so playing tennis and running cross country for LC was a blessing. The things I will remember most are the fun memories, like all the bus rides full of laughs and goofy games to pass the time and all the encouragement and cheering on each other."
The LaGrange community is proud to see one of its own showing great leadership and courage on the front lines. Minick will continue to give her patients the best care possible and the sky is the limit for her moving forward.
"LaGrange prepared me in many ways," said Minick. "Now, I am living out my calling as a nurse. I cannot wait to see what God has planned for me in this career."
Trevor Wenners can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.