Stories & Commentaries

A 2021 Southwestern Adventist University Nursing Graduate Shares How the University Helped Shape Her Values

Heather Chirinos

Heather Chirinos

For Heather Chirinos, a recent nursing graduate and former student nurse association president, her involvement in campus life helped shaped her values. Learn more in the following interview.
What led you to choose to attend Southwestern Adventist University?

When I came to SWAU to visit, doors began to open. My questions were each answered with a “yes.” It was such a fast process, and before I knew it, I was enrolled and fell in love with this school.

What have you learned at SWAU that has impacted your Christian walk?”

I have learned through Pastor [Michael] Gibson’s sermons that our individual walks may look different, but we are all trying to get to the same destination. Not everything has to be done my way, as we are all drawn to God in different ways. In working with others, I have learned to talk less and listen more. I have learned that God is merciful.

Can you share an experience during your time at SWAU that you will remember forever?

One time, during Friday evening vespers, I was on stage singing with a group of others, and I looked down to see everyone was on their feet with their hands lifted in total and complete worship. It was so beautiful to see, and I may not ever get to see that again. That moment will forever be imprinted on my mind. It gave me a glimpse of what it will be like when we get to heaven.

What led you to pursue a degree in nursing here at SWAU?

Nursing encompasses what I want to do for the rest of my life, which is to help other people. I want to show them Christ through my actions.  Through nursing you meet people when they are the most vulnerable. How you treat people in the midst of their vulnerability  can have an eternal impact. 

How has nursing school changed your perspective on life?

It has shown me that you should treat others the way you would want to be treated. I’ve learned to think before I act and speak, and that I need to slow down and listen to best serve my patients.

What are your goals for the future, and how has SWAU prepared you to pursue them?

SWAU has allowed me to fall in love with service. Following graduation, I’ll be focusing my time and energy in helping children in Honduras, which is where I am from. Assuming God opens the doors, I would like to open up a Seventh-day Adventist school and begin helping others. When I come back, I plan on working and possibly going back to school to pursue my master’s degree.

What is your message to someone considering entering the nursing program?

My biggest advice would be to involve yourself in activities and groups outside of nursing that will allow you an escape for when things get tough. Having friends that continue to motivate and support you, rather than just sticking your nose in a book 24/7, will help open your eyes and keep you refreshed.

Heather Chirinos is just one member of the Class of 2021 who has felt SWAU has positively impacted her life. Being a Knight enables her to grow in knowledge, faith and service as she prepares for her future. Learn more about SWAU’s nursing programs at